All Access Music Interviews SUZY
An Interview With The Inspiring and Talented Musician SUZY!
After being told for most of her life by everyone from her family in a small Mississippi town to shady “music professionals” that she shouldn’t pursue music because it’s not a viable career, Suzy attended Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp where she shared the stage with Paul Stanley (KISS), Nancy Wilson (Heart) and Rob Halford (Judas Priest).
For the first time, someone told her that she should pursue music after he listened to her original songs. It was Fantasy Camp counselor Joe Vitale (Joe Walsh, The Eagles). Now, Joe and Ace Frehley drummer Matt Star are playing on Suzy’s new self-titled EP.
Happy New Year! When it comes to your music, what are you most excited about for 2020?
I’m excited about a lot of things. We will be releasing the music videos for the remainder of the songs from the “Suzy” EP. We are working on doing more live performances this year and we are starting to work on new music.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
Not really, it was something that I wanted to do from an early age. At the time, I probably didn’t even know what it meant to be a musician. I just knew that I loved singing and that music made me very happy.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that? What about your current home in Houston?
I don’t know that my hometown really influenced the kind of music that I make. There wasn’t any music there other than church. It is a very small town and so the schools didn’t have any sort of music programs. The one thing during that time that influenced the kind of music that I like and that I tend to write was from the older brother of one of my friends. We were little kids playing with our dolls in her room while her much older brother was in the next room playing a lot of heavy, dark rock music from the 60s. It was my first exposure to that genre of music.
As for Houston, if you asked a lot of people they would tell you that there isn’t much of a music scene here either. What I would tell you is that there is a great music scene, but it is so far underground that if you don’t know someone who is in the scene you won’t find it. I have friends’ bands that come here and play at clubs that have been around forever and I have never even heard of them. Even though I lived here in the early 80s and then again since the early 90s, I’m still trying to get into the music scene here. So other than providing some of the life experiences that I write about, I can’t say that it is a huge influence either.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Was your family and friends supportive of this career choice? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
Growing up, music was as an important part of my life as was breathing air. Even when I was a little kid, I listened to a lot of my parents’ albums to the point that, around age five or so, they bought records for me and a turntable to play them so I would leave theirs alone. I still listened to theirs as well as the ones they bought for me. As I got older, I started buying my own albums. When the first hard rock radio station went on the air, I had my parents buy me an FM radio so I could listen. It woke me up in the morning and was the last thing I heard every night and as much as possible in between.
When I was growing up, my friends were not at all supportive of my interest in music. My parents were not unsupportive of me pursuing music, they just weren’t supportive. And at the point when I was in a place that I could pursue music, I wasn’t thinking of it as a full-time career. Even at that, they weren’t supportive when I would bring up the idea of auditioning for bands and that sort of thing. So I took it as they were trying to tell me something and that something was that I wasn’t a good singer. Now I think they were afraid that I would get hurt and that it was a tough business, especially for women. But that isn’t how I took it at the time.
Back in the late 70s/early 80s, I did give up pursuing music and had a long, fairly successful career in public relations and advertising. During that time I did some graphic design but I was primarily a writer. I also did a lot of event planning and even managed a musical theatre company for a number of years. So I would do something in the creative and entertainment industry that utilized my skills sets.
What was it like leaving behind your career in PR/advertising and becoming a full-time musician? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it? What has been the best part about it all?
I didn’t exactly “leave” my PR and advertising career behind. I had most recently been managing a musical theatre company prior to getting into music. I had finished that position and was at a point where I was taking some time off to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to or have to do a job that I don’t enjoy. And was trying to figure out what that was when the opportunity to get back into music came.
Why do you think it ultimately took you until you were in your 50s to start this music career?
I’m not sure. Maybe because I wasn’t ready for it. Being older, I’ve had more life experiences to draw on both for writing and for dealing with all that comes with being a woman in the music business. And I am better equipped to deal with the realities of the music industry like sexism and dealing with things like rejection. The 25-year-old me wouldn’t have been as well equipped to deal with all of it. Also, as you get older, you learn to care less about what other people think and that also helped a lot.
I would love to know more about your experience attending Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp and sharing the stage with Paul Stanley, Nancy Wilson and Rob Halford? What was that all like for you?
Oh and don’t forget Robin Zander among others! It was literally the most wonderful experience ever. How many people get to have a discussion about his song, what it meant and why he wrote it? The particular song our group picked to do at that Camp with Cheap Trick was a song they had never performed live and I don’t think that they have done it since then either.
I had a similar experience with the guys in Judas Priest. This time the song was on “the list”, but for some reason we never rehearsed it with them. So when it was announced on stage at the Whisky A Go Go that we were doing “Running Wild” it was a surprise to them. It had been years since they had performed it and Richie had never played it. But they had so much fun doing it that they added it to their set list for their next tour.
How many people can say that they have sung Judas Priest songs with the guys in Judas Priest and with Rob Halford standing there with his arm around your shoulders singing those songs? It was so much fun. It was so great and surreal to look over and see Nancy Wilson as our guitar player or to be doing a song with Paul Stanley. And I have to say that all of the stars we performed with were some of the nicest, most down-to-earth, genuine people that you would ever want to meet and especially to perform with as well.
Let’s talk about your first single, ”Tomorrow”! What was the inspiration for this track? How creatively involved with the making of the music video for it were you? How does this song compare to the rest of your EP? What other songs are you excited to share with listeners?
The inspiration was literally a lot of sleepless nights and then having to deal with aftereffects the next day. The only thing that gets you through that next day was the hope that things would be better tomorrow. This was actually the third music video that we shot. We aren’t releasing necessarily in the order they were shot. So I had been working with Paul Gervasi on the previous ones as well as I had known him for several years before we started working together. Since we have a history, I trust him so I pretty much leave the concept for the videos up to him. That being said, if it was something I wasn’t comfortable with, then we wouldn’t do it.
The one for “Tomorrow” was probably the only one that I really was very involved in the concept. We wanted to do something totally different than the previous videos and really something we hadn’t seen in other music videos. We had talked about doing something with animals, but decided that was too complicated. So we went with people in dog and bunny heads instead.
I think that all of the songs in the EP fit well together. Like I think most musicians are, I don’t listen to my own songs very often. So after a while of not hearing them, when I do, I’m like DAMN that was good. LOL
All of the songs on this EP are out, but I am excited about sharing the remaining music videos with everyone. We are releasing the one for “Time To Go” on Valentine’s Day. Then we will follow after that at some point with the one for “Road to Nowhere” and then the one for “Life Is A Song”. They are all different and I’m excited for people to see them and to enjoy the music in a different way. And hopefully the videos will expose the songs to people who haven’t heard the songs before. And we are working on some new songs. I can’t wait for everyone to hear those as well.
Do you have any tour dates scheduled for this year yet?
We are in the planning stages of doing more live performances this year, but none that we can release at this point. But we are hoping to be out and see the fans more this year.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music? What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
Definitely, I have. If you aren’t growing as things go along then you aren’t doing it right. Norman Matthew (As Strange As Angels, Murder FM) is my producer and we are continuing to get more on the same wavelength. We knew each other before working together, but I think that we are learning more about each other as musicians and songwriters and that makes a big difference. The thing that has stayed the same is that mainly I bring the lyrics and an idea about what the music should sound like to the table. But we do still sometimes turn things around and we will start with a riff or a few bars that Norman brought in. For the new stuff we are working on now, there was a riff he was playing around with for one song but then I brought in another set of lyrics and we both thought THAT is what we want for this newer song. I’m excited about the new music and hope to get it out there soon.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far?
What do I think about social media? That it’s a LOT of work but it is very necessary for indie artists. It is the only way for us to get our music out to the masses. We aren’t going to get signed to a record deal in today’s music industry, so we aren’t going to be played on the radio. So while it is very time-consuming, it is a necessary part of an indie artist’s career. I have fans on my social media that are from around the world and who are people I’ve never met. If there wasn’t social media then my friends and the few people who might stumble across a live performance would be the only people who ever heard of me or my music.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
So many. Would love to work with Robin Zander/Cheap Trick and Rob Halford/Judas Priest again for sure. Nancy Wilson would be fun. Steven Adler is another I’d like to work with again. Would love to work with some of the musicians I’ve met through Fantasy Camp. Joe Vitale (Joe Walsh and others) who is a friend and musical mentor, played all the music with the exception of guitars in the song “Road to Nowhere”. We wrote some songs together in conjunction with Camp and I would love to work with him again. And a whole host of others, but I know I’ll forget to mention someone important so I won’t give a list.
If you could design your dream music video right now, what would it look like?
I’m not sure since that is really more Paul Gervasi’s thing than mine. Also, I don’t have a finished song that I would be doing a video for. The song is a big part of the idea for a music video. Would love just once to have a big budget to do something super crazy and amazing.
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
Oh that is a really good question. So good that I don’t have a specific answer. It would be cool to have it played were there are thousands of people, like a big sporting event or a huge music festival.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
Hope. That Tomorrow will be better. That even if it feels like you are going nowhere, that can be ok. That’s Time for the toxic people To Go. That Lying is never a good idea. And Life is a Song, so SING IT!
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