When Edinburgh-based Susy K unleashed her soulful single ‘Heal’, we at Indie Top 39 knew that we had discovered a truly special and gifted artist. We couldn’t wait to hear Susy’s follow-up, and our prayers were swiftly answered in the form of ‘Hear It From Her’, an intimate and profound tune that is just incredible! Talking with us about each of these songs, her electronic soul duo Velas7, and who she would love to collaborate with, please welcome…Susy K.
Hello Susy K! We’re honoured to re-introduce you to our audience today. Now, I read that you were brought up by opera-singing parents. Do you ever remember a time when music wasn’t “there” so to speak? Or has it always been a part of your life?
Hi! Thanks for having me, I really appreciate it. Yes, my parents were both singing opera long before I was even born, and always encouraged any musical and creative inclinations me and my siblings had growing up, so music has always had a strong presence in my life. My mum actually said I sang before I spoke – so cheesy sounding I know, but my mum wasn’t overly sentimental at all, so she definitely wouldn’t have said that unless it was true. Ironically, it is the one melody/song in the world I can never remember – the theme tune to the 80s cartoon SuperTed haha!
You’re now a professional vocalist, songwriter, session musician, and vocal coach. Oh, and you do a little producing too! Are you one of those people who has to keep busy in order to keep the creative juices flowing?
I think it’s more that I get bored doing only one thing – variety is the spice of life!susy k
Over the years I’ve also realised how influential each element can be to each other in making you a more rounded and skilful creative. For instance, my singing and songwriting abilities improved noticeably when I started teaching and coaching others; developing my songwriting skills gave me more confidence and creative input as a session musician; working on my production skills has helped me be more creative with my song ideas…the list goes on!
‘Heal’ was my introduction to your music, and the rich, soulful, grooviness of the track just completely took me away! What made you choose ‘Heal’ to be the first single you released from your upcoming EP?
Thank you so much! I chose ‘Heal’ as the first release for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s probably the catchiest song off the EP (especially the chorus), and I love the groove and feel of it. Dave Browning (producer and multi-instrumentalist) did an amazing job of bringing that to life with the instrumentation! It also encapsulates the most prominent theme throughout my upcoming EP – healing. This song focuses mainly on healing from a lack of self-care and respect – trying to find it in anyone else but yourself, until you realise you need that self-acceptance and love from yourself first and how empowering that is.
Last month, you released the title track of your upcoming EP, ‘Hear It From Her’. It’s another silky smooth and powerful tune that I instantly resonated with! What do you want the world to know about ‘Hear It From Her’?
I’m so glad to hear you resonated with ‘Hear It From Her’ – it is one of my more intimate, heartfelt songs. It focuses on healing from being betrayed by someone you love and care for but finding it out through their oblivious new lover. The most interesting thing about this song is that although I sing it with such emotive connection and empathy, it’s one of only a couple of songs I’ve ever written that doesn’t stem from a personal experience I’ve had – I actually took inspiration from the storyline of the opera, Madame Butterfly!
Please tell us more about Velas7!
Velas7 is my electronic soul duo with my friend McIntyre. We met years ago through a mutual friend, and kept saying we needed to create music together – we have very similar musical tastes despite our diverse experiences in music. Then, 2020 happened…and if there is any silver lining that occurred that year, it was us finally getting things going musically! We produced everything virtually thanks to the restrictions, and so far we’ve self-released two songs – ‘Reunite’ (a song about reuniting on the dancefloor after the pandemic) and ‘Skin’ (a song about learning to love the skin you’re in and be your authentic self). Now, we are working on our follow-up releases, and we’re finally doing that in person.
Who would you put down as some of your biggest musical influences? And who would you ultimately credit for helping shape your overall musical soundscape?
I will try to keep this as short as I can haha! As I said before, variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to my influences that is definitely true. They all stem from soul music in some way…from classic soul like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Chaka Khan, to neo-soul like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott, to jazz with Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Robert Glasper to even hip hop and the likes of Missy Elliott, Eminem, and Outkast. Big shout out to some of the UK soul and jazz-based artists too like Lianne La Havas, Mica Paris, Blue Lab Beats and Jamiroquai.
Honestly, all of these artists and so many more shaped my musical soundscape – I can’t credit just one.susy k
What song do you love that you wish you’d written?
Oh wow, what a question! There are so many songs I could choose, but if I can only pick one it would have to be ‘I Can’t Help It’ by Michael Jackson. It was written by Stevie Wonder and Susaye Greene, and produced by Quincy Jones – talk about a dream team! Not only are the lyrics beautiful, but the mix of jazz, soul and disco is just perfection to me.
What are your thoughts regarding the music industry of today? And, if you were able to, what changes would you make to it?
On one hand, being an independent artist has never been more accessible – you can literally do everything yourself without the need for labels, publishers etc. to share your music – this simply wasn’t an option when I was growing up, so I love it. I’ve learned so much from going through the process of self-releasing music with Velas7 and with my own work, and although it can be tough at times, I really feel it’s a process that every artist should go through to understand the business side of the industry more. On the other hand, the industry still seems to be mainly concerned with how much money it can make, and often it’s at the expense of the artists/songwriters/producers. There is also still a real lack of diversity, especially in the higher positions of influence, so I would love to see more minorities taking up more space – we need to see more of ourselves in the industry as a whole.
What would you put down as your biggest musical achievement to date?
Oh, another good question! There are a few I have in mind, but the one that resonates most right now is my EP! I’ve spent the last 2 years working on it, including all the promo, branding and marketing surrounding it (I’m a DIY girl!), and I’ve had some wonderful friends and colleagues help me bring it all to life. Some of these songs I wrote years ago, and it’s taken until now to get them to sound the way I always wanted them to – I certainly have my talented friends Dave Browning and Nik Kovacevic (engineer and producer @ Brother Sun Sister Moon Productions) to thank for helping me throughout the process. The artwork for the whole project was also a new experience for me, and my skilful friend Anna Carlyle was brilliant to work with on it. I’m so proud of what we have achieved with my project and I’m so happy to finally be sharing it!
What do you love most about being a musician? And on the flip side, what are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced so far?
I have always loved the element of self-expression that comes with being a musician, and also the connection it brings – whether it’s with other musicians or with audiences, it’s truly a beautiful thing to be involved in. It took me a long time to get comfortable with things like jam sessions and improvisation as well as sharing my songwriting and creative ideas freely, but now it feels more natural; to me, it’s truly just like learning a language. Some of the challenges I’ve faced? One is being a woman – when I was in my teens/early 20s, there was a lot of prejudice and stereotypes that I and many others had to fight against, and being that young I didn’t have the confidence I have now to stand up for myself. Things are getting better, but there’s still a way to go. Alongside that, getting out of my own way and freely expressing myself has been a mission.
People have been asking me for years to release my own music, and I was always too scared to share myself and my music so publicly. Well, not anymore!susy k
You’ve been given the chance to collaborate with any musician or band. Who do you choose?
A very hard question! I’m going to focus on artists who are alive to try and narrow it down a bit haha. In which case, I think working with D’Angelo would be phenomenal – he’s such a creative powerhouse and talented multi-instrumentalist and I really respect his approach to music and creativity.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today Susy! I know that you’re working on your upcoming EP – do you have a release date in mind? And, I guess in a broader sense, what do you hope for in your musical future?
I’ve got a couple more singles coming out going into the new year, so I’ll be looking at the EP being released around February. I’m so excited to share it with everyone! My hope for my musical future generally is that I continue to grow as an artist, including keeping on collaborating with other talented people, and that my songs keep resonating with folks. I also want to keep learning and sharing my talents and abilities with others to learn from too. Thanks a lot – I’ve really enjoyed our chat!
We added Susy K’s single ‘Hear It From Her’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!