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Beats, bars, brotherhood

How YT Suns climbed the musical ladder, where they’re headed next

Reef Hill and Jack Thorsland performing on stage at the Central Saloon in Seattle, Wash. in February. YT Suns emerged as a music duo when Hill and Thorsland were in high school. // Photo courtesy of Oliver Stamatatos

Employing a heavy blend of pop and trap, YT Suns emerged as a music duo beginning in early high school. Western Washington University fourth-year, Reef Hill, and Gonzaga fourth-year, Jack Thorsland were raised in Renton and each held the title of lead drummer at opposing middle schools. 

When they joined in high school band class, they initially were a bit wary of each other.

“I would think, ‘Hmm. Who’s this guy that is filthy at the drums?’” Thorsland said.

The two ended up having an almost identical class schedule and bonded in their language arts class after Hill showed Thorsland a Lil Yachty song. Shortly after, Thorsland returned with a beat he made of his own, and from that moment on they have been creating music together. 

Thorsland grew up attending his aunt’s cover-band shows and said he credits Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd as bands he looks up to. Hill pays tribute to Rock Band for sparking his interest in musical endeavors and said he has been inspired by Paramore and My Chemical Romance. 

Their emo-leaning lyrics layered over melodic beats that they produce is inspired by Juice WRLD they said. 

YT Suns gained more attention with their second album “What If,” which was released in 2019. However, like many other musicians have battled, COVID-19 impeded their ability to perform and grow their audience. 

They had a turning point during the summer of 2021 when they began increasing gig bookings, social media presence and improving branding consistency. 

Hill, as a Marketing Major, said his area of study has helped to execute the basics of proper promotion, branding and building an image.

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Hill kneels to engage with the crowd at the Central Saloon in February. The audience requested two encores after their hour-long set at this show. // Photo courtesy of Oliver Stamatato

Their latest single “No Fakin” has received substantially more streams on Spotify than their previous music and averaged over 250 listens per day. As of April 2022, YT Suns’ songs have been added to over 200 Spotify playlists. 

The duo has performed at numerous venues including Seattle’s Central Saloon and Nectar Lounge where artists like Alice in Chains, Nirvana and Sir Mix-A-Lot have performed. 

“We grew our relationship with the booking manager at The Central Saloon and with that we got our poster hung up amongst the other musicians,” Hill said.

In February, they headlined a show where the crowd requested two encores after they had already performed over an hour-long set. 

Concert attendee and long-time fan, Bennie Barnett, has been a listener since the earliest days of YT Suns.  

“On stage, they’re in tune with each other, in touch with the crowd and just really uplift everybody in the room,” said Barnett.

Barnett also emphasized the impressive vocal range YT Suns carries. He said the duo reminds him of Rae Sremmurd with a dash of Panic! At The Disco.

“I’ve heard a lot of upcoming artists in the area and their music isn’t on this level,” Barnett said.  “Their production value is unmatched, they rarely sample and everything is from scratch. It’s a unique sound that other artists can’t replicate.”

Hill and Thorsland are quick to note that unification is one of their strongest suits. They each bring different qualities to the studio that help support each other's limitations. While Hill is honed in on his vocal editing skills, Thorsland’s expertise resides in finalizing the album so all songs have the same sound quality. 

Their ability to be transparent paired with the trust they have in one another allows them to be both mentors and hype men for each other. A number of songs have come to fruition after Hill had a vision for Thorsland’s work that Thorsland didn’t see initially and vice versa. 

Hill said one night after recording, he was messing around with a melody on the synth before they left and the following day Thorsland added percussion to the melody and ran with his creative idea for the piece. 

“When Jack played it back for me, it sounded so much better,” Hill said. “I didn’t even recognize it was what I had even played.”

 

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Thorsland holds one hand on the microphone and one hand in the air under stage lights at the Nectar Lounge in Seattle, Wash. in March. // Photo courtesy of Oliver Stamatatos

Since they are most proud of the work they’ve done together, it makes reuniting an anticipation game for them both. Thorsland said it is a challenge being a student while pursuing music, especially while being located five hours away from his partner in crime.

“Not a sliver of me wants to do anything but work on YT Suns,” Thorsland said. “Honestly, that’s one of my biggest inner conflicts.”

The two have a new album in the making titled “Moods & Interferencethat will be released in July 2022. Each song in the album is intended to convey a different emotion, ranging from the thrill of partying to agonizing breakups.

“We’ve taken our time on this album because we know this is our best work and we hope it helps us reach milestones we haven’t reached yet,” Thorsland said.

YT Sun’s previous social media manager, Jacky Niemeyer, said he is thrilled for the album’s release.

“I cannot even tell you how phenomenal the songs on the album are,” Niemeyer said. “Their previous work was already so good, this album is going to blow people’s minds.”

He said watching them record a song from start to finish is an eye-opening experience because of how effortlessly talented they are in the studio. Watching them know their way around the systems is tangible evidence of their dedication to music. 

“They had maybe a couple dozen followers on Instagram before I took over, and once we increased followings and got a good baseline, it became about promoting shows and other projects,” Niemeyer said. 

YT Suns is beginning music video production in May for an unreleased song titled “Just So You Know” in hopes to drop in tandem with the album. They’re planning on increasing music videos for their other songs further down the road. 

They have also been in contact with new music venues to secure gigs from now until the end of the summer. YT Suns will be celebrating the end of the quarter with an all-ages performance in Bellingham at The Blue Room on June 10. Tickets will be on sale closer to the date on The Blue Room’s website.


Mia Tocas

Mia Tocas (She/Her) is a reporter for the campus life beat at The Front this quarter. She is a second-year majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Creative Writing. Outside of work and school, she enjoys playing music, spending time with friends, and watching murder documentaries on Netflix. 

Her instagram is @milagro.jt


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