If you ask Suns of July vocalist, Kosta Dimos, he will tell you the band’s anti-bullying anthem, ‘Beautiful You Are’ has been over three decades in the making. The soaring and poignant track is one of ten painstakingly crafted offerings slated for release with the band’s inaugural album, ‘Hello People’, in the spring of 2020. While Kosta is a fully grown man juggling a demanding career as a lawyer with his passion for writing and recording music, the scars he endured at the hands of his elementary school bullies cut deep.
“It’s harmful to the development of a child to live in fear of physical abuse in the school setting. While I’m sure most bullied kids go on to lead normal lives, the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt and even self-loathing triggered by bullying during those formative years live on; they don’t just vanish when you grow up,” Kosta remarks.
It was early on in the writing process for ‘Hello People” that the band decided to breathe life into an old guitar riff created by Suns of July guitarist, Colonel, in 2010. “This song resonates because it’s real”, Kosta continues. “The lyrics during the bridge “Alright, alright, you can cry on my shoulder and I’ll promise you, when you get older … You’ll see how beautiful, beautiful you are” come right from my dearly departed mother who would sit at the foot of my bed in the evenings consoling me and offering strength to face the next day.”
The honest approach of this song also resonated with television producer, Kali Kyriazis, whom the band’s drummer, Anastazio Dimos, randomly met after a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game in the early spring of 2019. The two kept in touch and the band forwarded various rough mixes of the album’s songs to Kali, who became particularly enamoured with the anti-bullying track. During a conference call one evening in late summer of 2019, Kali suggested producing a video in support of the song as she felt it could have a positive social impact. Kali marshalled her resources and enlisted the services of director, Victoria Long, along with a professional film crew to capture the footage.
The video was shot at the Metamorphosis Greek Orthodox School on November 30, 2019, and the band was blessed to have over eighty children participate in the filming. “It was a whirlwind day”, recalled Anastazio, “aside from providing the song we [the band] were limited in terms of any additional value we could add to the shoot. We spent the day making sure that all the children and their parents were well fed. It was a 10-hour filming day.”
The end product is a moving sonic and visual portrayal of children and young teens finding the strength within themselves to cast aside feelings of fear, insecurity and self-doubt in favour of a renewed, positive sense of self. The band’s intent is for the video to strike a chord with both children and educators which will, hopefully, contribute towards fostering school environments which are positive, inclusive and free of physical and emotional abuse.
Suns of July gave ‘Beautiful You Are’ a test-run in the school context with an acoustic performance at Toronto’s Yorkview Public School during its annual anti-bullying rally in late November, 2019. The school’s music teacher, Hayley Ruskin, was provided with a mix of the track along with the sheet music in advance and the result was a moving performance of the song with the school’s choir standing on risers behind the Kosta, Anastazio and Colonel and energetically singing the choruses. “It was touching and the kids did great! Hayley did an excellent job preparing them. I had some nice conversations with a few of the children afterwards. I think the message resonated”, remarked Kosta,
Suns of July are currently scheduling more acoustic performances at various Toronto and Greater Toronto Area schools during February of 2020; which is ‘International Anti-Bullying Month’. The band has already ordered scores of pink “Suns of July” t-shirts which it will provide to the children attending the performances. Once the album drops, the band will make an instrumental version of ‘Beautiful You Are’ freely available to all school boards along with the sheet music.