605 had the chance to chat with 605 Summer Classic headliners Caroline Smith (Friday, June 23) and Mod Sun (Saturday, June 24) about their careers, their latest albums, and what to expect at this year’s festival.
“It’s getting a little more poppy, but it’s still got soul influence and ’70s songwriter influences that I keep with me.”
– Caroline Smith on her sound
FRIDAY, JUNE 23 HEADLINER
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During Mod Sun’s recent 25-city “Drive In Movie Tour,” he experimented with video to document his fans at each stop. Sending out someone from his team with a camera, they captured lines of young fans exclaiming heartfelt sentiments like, “You’ve changed my life for the last four years, thank you,” and, “You helped me get through a really rough time when my friend committed suicide; I love you so much.”
After touring for almost 15 years, Minnesota-native Mod Sun says he hasn’t ever experienced his fans this way, and is grateful he decided to remove himself from the filming equation for the results.
“It was so special to me. I never really looked at the support that I have and as thoroughly as I did on this tour,” he said. “It’s one thing for fans to walk up to me and say I’ve really helped them out and it’s great to meet me, all in 60 seconds. With this, leaving a message for me was a way I could take it better, because getting compliments to your face is really difficult for me. Seeing it from the outside in, I could really take away from that.”
“I’ve never really been in a real relationship until the one I was just in, so that’s why I hadn’t touched on that before. I fell in love with the girl of my dreams, and I wanted to express that in the album.”
– Mod Sun
SATURDAY, JUNE 24 HEADLINER
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Mod Sun’s positive energy seemed to transport through the phone when 605 chatted with the hip hop artist and writer (and painter, and poet … we’ll get to that) on a Friday evening. Rather than “fans,” he referred to them as “friends,” and genuinely spoke with affection when referencing them.
“I’m really invested in these people that are supporting me. I love them,” he said. “That’s why I call all these people my friends instead of fans, because the people that listen to me I really connect with and would want to hang out with, and those are the people I’m searching for.”
The idea for the videos came about to coincide with Mod Sun’s newest 11-track album, Movie, which also has a short film previewing songs that can be found on YouTube or his website, modsunmusic.com.
“The whole idea of Movie and everything like that is I personally look at my life in a way that I want to make it interesting all of the time; I want to feel as if I’m being witnessed,” he said. “I never really know where to put that topic as far as that’s faith, religion, or if it’s a fact that we’re entertainment for whatever is going on above us. Even if I’m alone, I’m dancing, I’m singing, I’m on my typewriter. That’s the point of this album, is that everyone is being witnessed.”
Mod Sun mentioned really following the law of attraction, which is the philosophy that focusing on positive or negative thoughts will bring positive or negative experiences into someone’s life.
BAD BAD HATS
FRIDAY, JUNE 23
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“I’m in the mantra that whatever you’re thinking, you’re asking for it,” he said. “If you get a parking ticket, for example, and you say, ‘I never want another parking ticket again,’ unfortunately you just asked to get another one, because the universe is unbiased, and it doesn’t care what you want or don’t want; it’s paying attention to what you’re thinking.”
With this mantra, he has written several books under his independent publishing company, Youniverse Pub. Did I Ever Wake Up is a step-by-step guide on “how to make life a dream,” and Happy to be Here Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are journals half-written by Mod Sun, and are open the last half for the reader to become the author.
“What’s the point of sitting down and feeling bad for yourself?” he asked. “We’re getting fed that negative energy all the time. It’s always been that way. Like, turn on the news … there’s never any good news. The world we live in wants to feed you bad news and set in fear. That does nothing for you. Every day you wake up should be amazing and be a blessing.”
SATURDAY, JUNE 24
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Living life to the fullest, Mod Sun mentioned he has already completed two full bucket lists, including making a song with musician Travis Barker (check) and buying a car from Travis Barker (check – a Cadillac). Meet Bob Dylan? Check. One of the latest bucket list items to check off was to bring vulnerability into his next album. For the first time, he had a serious girlfriend when the process of Movie began.
“With [this album] I’m touching grounds that I’ve never touched before, which is talking about relationships and love,” he said. “Most of my songs up to this point are loving life songs, not love songs. During this process, I was going through a two-year-long relationship.”
The passionate pair went from living together to separating to trying to make it work living apart. By the album’s end, they had also come to the conclusion to part ways.
FRIDAY, JUNE 23
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“I kept it honest, so if something happened, I put it down for a song that night,” he said. “It definitely laid out the story that happened.”
Beautiful Problem is Mod Sun’s latest video, which is heavily influenced by his ex-girlfriend. The last track, The End or Start Again?, is the mental battle of the break up.
“Every end is the new beginning. The love that we had may not have ended, it may have just continued. You can look at it from many different angles, like having memories you wouldn’t trade for the world and how it’s worth going through those things,” he said. “It’s a giant teaching tool, and those endings may have made you better than you were before. Now going into a new relationship, instead of trying to find someone that completes me, how about two wholes making one? That’s what I’ve learned, and I wanted to let people into that.”
Saturday, June 24
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Minneapolis R&B/soul/pop musician Caroline Smith is at a different stage of her album, which (fingers crossed) will be complete soon. Since Smith was direct support at the 605 Summer Classic in 2015, she moved with her band to Los Angeles to record.
“We still consider Minneapolis our home base,” she said. “The band and I ventured out to Los Angeles to switch it up creatively while we were working on the new album and experience somewhere new.”
FRIDAY, JUNE 23
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It’s been four years since the release of Half About Being a Woman, and Smith says this is the closet it’s felt to being complete.
“I don’t want to jinx it, because you never know if you’ll have setbacks or have an epiphany,” she said. “I’m in love with all of the songs, and I’m really, really glad I waited as long as I did and was as selective as I was, because what I have now is a collection of songs that I’m really proud of. They’re really honest and personal to me.”
The album, which has not yet been titled, reflects Smith’s life throughout the writing process.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24
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“It took a lot of time, because I didn’t want a record that had one vein and one vibe,” she said. “I wrote and evolved in my everyday life … like I had one year where I was feeling down, and one year I was feeling poppy. What I think I have now is a very balanced, cross-section of the past four years that it’s been since I’ve released something.”
Smith is excited to return to the 605 Summer Classic as Friday’s headliner, and is looking forward to playing new tunes.
“We’re going to be playing a lot of new songs,” she said. “This is us wrapping up an album, so we’re excited to show those off.”
FRIDAY, JUNE 23
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Mod Sun, who hasn’t been to Sioux Falls since he played hockey as a teenager (“I’m not even [explicit] kidding you”), is looking forward to headlining Saturday for the music and South Dakota beer festival weekend.
As our phone call came to an end, he vented about school sports and how he hates that you “have to choose one,” which angers him about feeling like people have to choose what they want to be remembered by or known as. He referenced Jim Morrison’s title as “American Poet” on the cover of Rolling Stone following his passing.
“On my tombstone, I want it to say, ‘Artist. Writer. Poet. Musician. Painter.’ I want it to say all these things,” he said.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24
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He went on to say Paris is one of this favorite places in the world, and visits there often. He can be found frequently getting kicked out of Jim Morrison’s gravesite at the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery.
“I totally want to be buried there one day,” he said.
Maybe a final bucket list item?
He laughed, “That’s what I’m sayin’!”
Purchase tickets in person or online at 605summerclassic.com.
ALL-SD BEER TASTING
Don’t miss the all-South Dakota beer tasting 3-6 p.m. Saturday, June 24. This is included with Saturday’s ticket, but an unlimited tasting band can be purchased for an additional $20.
- Fernson Brewing Co.
- Firehouse Brewing Co.
- Dempsey’s Brewery Restaurant & Pub
- Miner Brewing Co.
- The Knuckle Brewing Company
- Crow Peak Brewing Co.
- Watertown Brewing Co.
- Woodgrain Brewing Co.
- Hydra Beer Company
- Lost Cabin Beer Company
- Gandy Dancer Brew Works
Thank you to our presenting sponsors South Dakota Lottery and University Center. Thank you to our other sponsors, South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB), Sanford Health Plan, Lloyd Companies, Voyage Federal Credit Union, Fernson Brewing Co., Howalt-McDowell: A Marsh & McLennan Agency, and Vern Eide Honda.
The 605 Summer Classic (presented by South Dakota Lottery and University Center) Friday lineup also features Minneapolis artists Bad Bad Hats and Zuluzuluu, along with South Dakota natives N.W. Engbers and Chris Bedford. Saturday’s performances include Minneapolis’ DJ Abilities, along with local talents Philly Fate, Dylan West, and Arlinda Peacock.
Tickets are $10 per day, or $15 for a weekend pass (available online or at the door). Saturday’s ticket includes an all-South Dakota beer tasting from 3-6 p.m. An unlimited tasting band can be purchased for an additional $20. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit 605summerclassic.com. •
605 Summer Classic
(3-6 p.m. SD Beer Tasting June 24)
Cherapa Place Parking Lot (enter through 6th Street)
300 North Cherapa Place
$10 per day
$15 weekend pass
$20 UNLIMTED BEER TASTING