Suzi Analogue Talks Inspiration and Collaboration
DAMANI MCNEIL // NOVEMBER 6, 2019
Interview By: Damani McNeil and Amari Newman
In October, Amari Newman of Sleepwalker Entertainment, Oberlin DJ Honey Brown, and myself were fortunate enough to ask ex-diplomat and multidisciplinary artist Suzi Analogue a few questions about her origins and artistic process before her set at the Sco.
Sitting smack dab in the middle of her international tour promoting the fourth installation in her series of ZONEZ projects, Suzi’s Oberlin stop was a blast to experience. The energy in the Sco was electric as she sang, constructed and looped synths and drums in live time, and danced across the stage. Ultimately, the dynamic performer could not be confined to the stage; as she reached the climax of her final song, Suzi ran around the venue hugging or high fiving each concertgoer before returning to the stage to finish her set.
During the interview, she spoke about the role her travels play in inspiring her music, describing each ZONEZ record as a snapshot of the time she spent in particular places she’s visited around the globe. Playing shows in places like Beijing, Seoul, and Kampala give her music an international perspective, and provide the artist herself with a unique perspective on the transmission and exchange of culture.
The DJ also spoke to the importance of fostering bonds between diasporic creators on the continent of Africa and those spread around the world, noting the disconnect many Black Americans feel between contemporary art made in Africa. She founded her record label Never Normal Records, a group of musicians and visual artists who share this goal, along with a commitment to using technology to push the boundaries of musical creation and performance.
Check out more on Suzi’s musical influences and record label in the interview below, and listen to her latest record ZONEZ V.4: Love Me Louder on all streaming platforms.
Amari: Suzi is performing at the Sco, later tonight, and we figured while she’s here we’d ask a few questions! I know that you’ve lived all over, you’ve been around, but do you have a specific place that you identify with musically, or personally?
Suzi: In general, I always describe myself as very East Coast. So the whole sound of the Eastern Seaboard on the Black hand side, that’s where I got my first education. Growing up in church, everything from gospel music, to club music on the radio, BMore club, Go Go, Hip Hop, and then something about the East Coast… people always move there from all different places, so you get this influx of music like hip hop from Detroit and Chicago. That’s how I categorize, that’s what I feel close to sound wise that experience of so many different sounds as you travel up and down the highway.
Amari: You grew up in Baltimore, right?
Suzi: I actually grew up in Virginia! My fam is in NC but I grew up in the 804 actually , in the Richmond area. I grew up in Central and Southeast Virginia, and the musical vibe growing up was definitely bass out the trunk, and stuff like No Limit! Adding subs to my car was my dream, I loved to ride with anyone who had them. I would say even though I herd club music or gogo on the weekends, that was ONLY on the weekends, and throughout the week it was very southern, bass oriented rap music growing up. And RnB!
Damani: Broadly, who are some of your favorite folks to collaborate with, and who are you looking forward to collaborating with? And also specifically with Nappy Nappa, how did yall end up collaborating? What’s the story there?
Suzi: Collaboration wise, I’m actually always down to collaborate with anyone. Early on when I lived in Philly we had Klipmode, which was me, Knwlxdge, Mndsgn, Devin Who. We collaborated a lot and I liked that, but that was a specific phase of my life where I was in Philly. After that I didn’t really tend to collaborate with any one person, it’s just kinda who’s around and who’s inspired! Nappy Nappa is coming out of Southeast DC, and he’s a part of my Never Normal Sound System!
Damani: Tell us more about Never Normal!
Suzi: Because I realized I love collaborating with so many people, I decided to form a collective called Never Normal Sound System. It’s a group of people making diasporic, modern music. It’s a group of people who embrace the concept of using technology in the creation process and performance of new work! I’m very multidisciplinary, so I really love to collaborate with the people in the Sound System on other stuff than music. I’ll do a shoot, I’ll style someone, I’ll do someone’s graphics, I’ll do whatever! I started my label Never Normal Records because I love the entire process of creating records. Generally I’m actually a big collaborator, and recently I’ve been collaborating with people from all over the world, and I wanna keep that going!