From Sun Rai
Sun Rai is the new solo project from Australian-born, LA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, jazz, rock, and pop musician Rai Thistlethwayte. His ease with songwriting and virtuosic piano skills come as no surprise, as both his parents are musicians. His mother, a classical pianist, taught him piano from age 4, and his father was a bass player. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music recognized his natural gifts at a young age, and awarded him a scholarship to study Jazz Piano. Rai has spent the last 8 years as the front man and songwriter of the ARIA nominated, multi-platinum Australian pop-rock band Thirsty Merc. His songs have received numerous accolades, including multiple nominations for Song Of The Year at the prestigious APRA awards. Sun Rai is a new chapter for Rai. He’s branched out, writing and performing fresh pop-soul-jazz inspired tunes on his first loves – piano and keyboards. Fresh off the plane in 2012, Sun Rai picked up a residency at the aptly named Piano Bar in Hollywood, where he plays regularly to a packed house. Soon after, the influential music tastemaker and DJ Chris Douridas fell in love with his early online releases. Rai’s ‘San Francisco Street’ has received extensive airplay on KCRW by both Douridas and renowned DJ Jason Bentley. In early 2013, three Sun Rai songs were placed in episodes of Showtime’s acclaimed ‘House Of Lies,’ one of them accompanying a prominent scene starring Matt Damon and Don Cheadle. He also wrote a song for a film series by Roman Coppola. His music has been remixed by the LA-based DJ duo, The Classixx (forthcoming release). He’s been writing with accomplished musicians, including Rashawn Ross from the Dave Matthews Band. K.D. Lang, Gotye, Mayer Hawthorne, and Daniel Merriweather, are just a few artists that have been praising Sun Rai’s music and videos on social media. Rai’s musical journey began before he was born - his mom used to practice piano everyday while he was in the womb. He learned classical piano with her formally for seven years, until his parents divorced in 1992. His dad introduced him to the groundbreaking records “The Very Best of Cream” and “Machine Head” by Deep Purple. And when Rai discovered Oscar Peterson, he realized that he could play the blues on the piano. For him, improvising was an early way of breaking the rules. He started writing songs at the age of 15. Over the next few years, he devoured the music of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Prince. After one year at the Sydney Conservatorium, he was approached by Columbia Records in the US. They had heard a demo tape that his former schoolteacher had been passing around. That record deal didn’t work out, but it was a great crash course in the business of music for Rai. When the dust settled, he started a band with one of his best friends, Phil. He soon assumed the roles as primary songwriter, lead vocalist, and guitarist. That band is ‘Thirsty Merc’, named after an old Benz he was driving around. He was 22 when the band signed to Warner Music in Australia. For a number of years, Rai had been writing music that seemed to have an inherent soulful quality. He’d also been enjoying a renaissance with his first instrument, the piano. He was reading books about 70’s west coast musicians, including Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, and Gene Clark. He was also listening to a lot of vinyl, namely Elton John, Steely Dan, Alan Parsons Project, and jazz artists like Clifford Brown, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett. He was intrigued by Los Angeles and its rich musical history. He had a sense of nostalgia – almost a deja vu – about the sprawled, sun-drenched city. In 2012, He moved to LA. He is now working on his debut release as Sun Rai.