Excitement builds following the success of their anti-bullying song ‘Beautiful You Are’.
By Ayah Victoria McKhail
On May 19, 2021, Suns of July will release their 10-song debut LP aptly titled Hello People. The rock and roll tune captures the essence of the album perfectly, both as an introduction to the band’s music and great expectation, since it was five years in the making.
The three main members of the band consist of two brothers: Kosta Dimos, lead singer and rhythm guitarist; Anastazio Dimos, drummer; and Nick David (a.k.a. The Colonel), lead guitarist. The trio has been writing and performing music together since high school. Adding to their lineup, pivotal roles are also played by Cary Corvair on bass guitar and Mark Burnes on piano and synthesizer. The album’s eclectic musical landscape is enhanced by guest vocalist, Effie Star, who duets with Kosta on the melodic hip hop ballad, Forever. A Toronto rap artist and friend of the band, Feature, also adds hip hop flair to it and to the mental health awareness track, Misunderstood.
A key album highlight is the anti-bullying song, Beautiful You Are. Professionally filmed at Metamorphosis Greek Orthodox School, the touching video for this track features a diverse group of students who exemplify the importance of acceptance and inclusion. As Kosta indicates, “The intent of the video is 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.” The song holds great significance to him, as he was also bullied as an elementary school student. Beautiful You Are has become an artistic endeavour to turn his traumatic experience into an inspirational message of strength and resilience for a new generation of students, who are often encountering bullying through a variety of means.
The band generated considerable buzz with this heartfelt song and its acoustic performance of the track at Yorkview Public School with the school’s choir supporting them and enchanting the audience with a moving rendition. Suns of July were slated to perform Beautiful You Are at a host of other elementary schools throughout Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area at anti-bullying assemblies during the spring of 2020 before the bookings were kiboshed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The band has, however, made an instrumental version of this song available for use at all school boards along with the sheet music. The music video and single for Beautiful You Are were made available for viewing, streaming and downloading on February 4, 2020.
With all the growing anticipation, as Colonel attests, “Writing and recording this album has been an emotionally intense process and we’re excited to share this new music with the universe.” Distinct in nature, the songs also explore other themes such as lust; love; loss; and mental illness, striking the right tone every time, whether upbeat and hopeful, or painful and sombre. Produced by Nicolas Londoño (a.k.a. Nick Name), the album’s been a work in progress for a lengthy amount of time due to a series of life circumstances, which served as the catalyst for meaningful introspection.
Two other very poignant songs on the album, Mother and Wishing on a Star, were inspired by the untimely passing of the brothers’ mother, Lolita, exemplifying how sorrow ushered in a period of creativity to cherish her memory. For Anastazio, not only did the tragedy present him with a great challenge, but it also marked his growth as a musician. “The process of writing Mother before recording resulted in the most difficult band rehearsals I’ve had to endure. After our mother’s passing I stopped playing drums for half the year; I then reconvened with the band to a song Colonel and my brother had written on their acoustic guitars about her. I originally hated listening to the lyrics as I tried to come up with a beat and mood that would complement what was already there.”
The process was onerous, but over time, it coalesced. As Anastazio admits, “Although it was tough, I knew that this song was going to be special. At the start of Mother you can hear a very light and organic timbre on the hi-hat during the first verse which eventually explodes into thundering toms expressing sorrow and anger with the sudden loss of our mom. The percussion then bleeds into brightness on the ride cymbal during the chorus to convey our love and hope that we will honour her memory.”
An eclectic blend of musical genres ranging from classic to modern rock, alternative and grunge influence the band’s unique sound, which combines melodic guitar riffs with synth-laden and infectious drum and bass grooves. Acts such as Bruce Springsteen, U2, REM, Oasis, Nirvana, Killers and many more all serve as sources of inspiration. Yet beyond the influential role such musical sensations play in their lives, the Dimos brothers derive their greatest sense of inspiration from their late father, George. Fondly remembered as a musical prodigy who captivated people with his beautiful singing voice and masterful accordion playing; throughout the brothers’ childhood and into their late teens, George fronted a Greek wedding band, so there was always live music in the house.
“We were always in awe of his talent and wanted to create our own little bit of musical magic and make people sing and dance just the way he did,” Kosta reminisces.
And they sure know how to rouse a crowd. On March 8, 2019, they were one of the acts featured at The Bout Music Festival and Competition, which was held annually at one of Toronto’s foremost venues for live music, The Hideout. Suns of July was also one of six bands (out of 120) to make it to the finals for a riveting show on May 3, 2019.
In addition to playing at popular Toronto venues, the band’s keen on making a difference in the lives of people undergoing challenges, so they’ve embarked on fundraising efforts for a variety of causes, such as The Hospital for Sick Children and the Elpida Autism Foundation. A noteworthy initiative took place on April 24, 2019 when they and several other musicians played at Revival, successfully raising over $5,000 for the Elpida Autism Foundation. As Kosta states, “It’s a blessing to be able to jam out and raise money to help people in need. We feel an obligation to give back whenever one can.”
And if you’re curious about the band’s name, it’s evocative of the three main members’ penchant for basking in the glow of the sun, which they attribute to their Greek ethnicity. As Anastazio explains, “Our DNA prefers warmer temperatures, so we’re big fans of the summertime; particularly the month of July. We wanted a name with a warm and positive energy. We think we nailed it with this one by including both the warmest month and the source.”
As Hello People nears release – it’ll be available on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Amazon – a sense of excitement characterizes the mood. As Colonel shares, “We’re very proud of our new album; we hope people find something in this record they can emotionally connect to and they come out to future gigs and enjoy the music with us.”
Ayah Victoria McKhail is a Toronto-based writer with a post-graduate degree in journalism from Ryerson University. She loves music and her writing has appeared in numerous publications such as The Globe and Mail, the Literary Review of Canada and NOW.