After the year we all just had, it’s completely understandable if you feel like giving up. But with “Don’t Give Up,” Seattle’s Sundae Crush have arrived to offer you another option: How about a therapeutic float through a neon floral wonderland?
In the psychedelic, prairie-inspired video, designed by visual duo The Valdez, band founder Jena Pyle and bassist/vocalist Izaac Mellow are dressed in twee floral and ruffled outfits from a clothing line fittingly titled “Ugly House on the Prairie,” by Seattle-based no-waste clothing designer Janelle Rabbott, (a.k.a. JRAT). Lyrically, Pyle and Mellow offer strength, support and solidarity as they sing, “Don’t give up so soon/You know that I’ve been there.”
“Don’t Give Up” was first penned in 2018 as part of Sundae Crush’s live scoring of Sailor Moon R at Northwest Film Forum’s Puget Soundtrack series. Originally called “Don’t Give Up, Sailor Moon,” this song was written for a scene where the manga princess is feeling extra discouraged. With an effect similar to that of a flick of that legendary moon-shaped wand, the song lends the listener a little self-empowerment magic for the hard times—and that’s exactly what Sundae Crush intended.
“‘Don’t Give Up’ feels like the healing process – the acknowledgment,” says Mellow. “I think about how excited I was when I recorded the bell kit part on that song. I could just feel it in my head; this is going to sound so good and positive and poppy.”
But Sundae Crush’s effusive joy didn’t exactly come naturally. The song—in fact, the whole record—is dedicated to Pyle’s therapist, who has helped her get through difficult times. Released in November 2020 by fresh Seattle label Donut Sounds Record Co., A Real Sensation centers the importance of caring for your mental health, so much so that the band is donating 50% of the sales from first 100 vinyl copies of the LP, as well as 25% of merch sales, to the WA Therapy Fund to support Black healing.
“A lot of the time I was writing songs, it was usually after some sort of conversation that I had with my therapist, so that was a lot of my process for the record, for sure,” says Pyle. “I really wanted to give back in some way [with this album]… so I took the opportunity to donate part of the record to something that would be really helpful. I would really love for therapy to be free in the future, hopefully.”
In 2015, Pyle moved to Seattle from her college town of Denton, Texas, with the dream of Sundae Crush already in her heart. At the time, she had a project called Layer Cake, which nodded to her love of food and the “aesthetics of cute,” two themes she continues to riff on in Sundae Crush.
After a few temporary lineups in 2017-2019, Sundae Crush’s current iteration was born a few years after Pyle’s start in Seattle when she crossed paths with bassist/vocalist Izaac Mellow, guitarist/vocalist Emily Harris, and drummer Dan Shapiro, while out and about at shows in Seattle. Notably, Shapiro got involved with the band shortly after hearing the group perform at a gritty house show, where he endured an awkward Tinder date.
“The Tinder date was not good. I think they left and I was watching the show. They were like, ‘peace,'” remembers Shapiro. “But I saw them for the first time and I had a similar reaction that Izaac had, like this is the best band ever.”
A Real Sensation represents what makes Sundae Crush so sweet, mixing the shimmering sounds of throwback psychedelia and the country authenticity of Pyle’s Texas upbringing for a fresh take on Seattle’s low-maintenance, D.I.Y. rock aesthetic. The video for “Don’t Give Up” dials that aesthetic all the way up – while reminding us all to keep going.