Suzi Analogue is not your average producer, nor is she one to play by the rules. Living up to her moniker, Suzi began honing her craft with cassette recordings and learning to produce her own beats at a young age. And her hands-on approached didn’t stop there even in this digital era or music. Suzi founded her own record label, Never Normal Records, which champions a host of diverse artists who, like her, refuse to conform to industry norms.
Suzi is already on BandLab, embracing the power to create music anywhere and collaborating virtually. She has also collaborated with BandLab to drop a bonus contest round this month. Find out how you can enter the contest.
We talk to the talented producer about her use of music technology and sampling, her women inspirations, collaborating on BandLab and more.
Do you remember the very moment you decided that you were set on pursuing your passion for music? Can you tell us about it?
My experience in listening and hearing sound has always been intrinsically linked to how I relate to music. I have experienced synaesthesia and from a small age, hearing sounds has been a motivating force with how I connect with my environment.
So with that being my reality, it was really cool as a kid learning that I actually had musical ability to participate in playing music. I became classically trained vocally and took part in many different community performances when I was young. From my mother playing records all the time in my home, to performing in statewide choir performances and theater, I was always very active listening to music and productions.
At nine years old I started recording my own cassette tapes and writing songs that I recorded through a microphone. Over my whole life, I’ve shared my recordings with people through different stages of my life, and it all added up to me being able to pursue music as a way to provide for myself and make some dreams come true through the support of my community who believe in me.
Your work is so much more than just music. You’ve taken inspiration from visual arts and many other sources. What is the story you hope to tell from your art?
I have many, many inspirations. As a kid, I drew comics a lot on top of recording music. I always had a love for comics and visual art that I would see in magazines and newspapers my mom read. That led me to become inspired by photography and because I was also doing theater growing up, it all just went together.
It is especially important to me to use my visuals are a way for people to understand the perspective of the world from a black artist’s eyes, especially from a black woman’s eyes. Art is a way we can communicate beyond words, just like music.
Through my time of traveling and touring, I’ve visited many museums and exhibitions worldwide. I believe art is for everyone, and that even with making music I can use my music as a way for people to experience art. It doesn’t have to be locked up in a museum or any place – I can just be inspired by the music. It is especially important to me to use my visuals are a way for people to understand the perspective of the world from a black artist’s eyes, especially from a black woman’s eyes. Art is a way we can communicate beyond words, just like music.
As a woman of color, you’re a massive inspiration to many like-minded artists in the industry. Music has definitely played a role in empowering women of color everywhere and but how do you see this being taken to the next level?
Music is a creative speciality and a medium but music goes with everything in life. There are not many moments in life that feel complete without music being played.
If you can find a way as a creator to take your music and create different avenues for yourself to be creative across different fields, that is the ultimate next level.
Because of music, I’ve been able to take what I compose and produce and use them for TV shows, commercials and many places I never thought I could go. That has been an empowering experience to witness. I have many more creative ideas and concepts to bring to the world aside from music. Having my music be a part of films TV and beyond is an opportunity for me as an entrepreneur to connect with different industries.
To me, that is what taking music to the next level is all about. If you can find a way as a creator to take your music and create different avenues for yourself to be creative across different fields, that is the ultimate next level. Music is like a seed that can grow this humongous tree that we can all have fruit from. It’s powerful.
Who are some women who have inspired you as an artist and as a person?
I’ve learned something positive from every woman that I’ve ever met in my life. Knowing that as femme-identifying people we live under systems where we are expected to beat the odds just to reach success, and that we are all in that struggle together – that is a sacred experience in my eyes.
My mother was always my first most influential person in my life and she sparked my creativity and curiosity and my grit to stick it out when things get hard. My grandmother, my sisters, my teachers who were women, they all inspire me. In music culture, I’m always fascinated by the women who tell the world that they are going to do things their own way, not the way that’s expected of them. People like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, Betty Davis Chaka Khan, Missy Elliot and now so many peers that I respect are leading the way for a future of girls and women to be who they want to be.
Knowing that as femme-identifying people we live under systems where we are expected to beat the odds just to reach success, and that we are all in that struggle together – that is a sacred experience in my eyes.
Music technology plays a big part in your creative process. What are some of the tools that you simply cannot do without?
Musical synthesis is something that is key to most of my recordings and most of my listeners know that well. To me, synthesizing by using sampling music technology is something that has been a part of my process inspired by hip hop.
In reality, I could never live without a tape machine because that was the first medium I recorded on. To this day I still continue to use tape recordings in my music. I’ve always truly connected with small personal gadgets since I was young, and today I really do live for portable synthesizers. I love the concept of being able to take my music process from place to place and not necessarily be locked into a studio. That’s actually one reason I really enjoyed BandLab because you can do so much just with your phone.
Technology has also played a big part in connecting musicians during periods of lockdown. Do you see virtual collaboration becoming something that’s expected and normal moving forward?
From the very beginning, I’ve always shared my music to a global audience. Because of that, I was always reached out to farm producers and songwriters all over the world. For me, virtual collaboration has always been a part of how I share music as Suzie Analogue. I am actually happy, even under the tough circumstances of the pandemic, that people are challenging themselves now to collaborate virtually with creators all over the world – because we should never limit ourselves as creatives.
There is an amazing exchange of culture and customs and traditions that can be shared when we connect virtually. Sometimes you can just talk to someone in a different city and learn about their day and what it’s like where they live and that is really exciting when you collaborate virtually. Especially now that we cannot truly fly from city to city just to record music or make new art, the times are showing us that virtual collaboration is here to stay.
You’re big on sampling. Do you have any processes that you fall back on all the time, or do you toss out the rulebook?
To me, the art of sampling is that there almost are no rules. Some of my favorite producers have me tracks that sample the weirdest things – like we all know how Timberland sampled the baby crying in Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” and made a whole heck out of it. That’s what it’s all about to me – taking sounds that make you go “what?!” and connecting the samples to the music based on what people’s ears are truly curious to hear. My friends know that I’m definitely that person at the party saying “I bet they don’t know this is a sample and that song…” haha.
Read more: BandLab Sounds: Introducing Sample Editor
We’re so glad to have you on BandLab! Could you tell us what drew you to use the platform and what features have you found useful so far?
Recently I was looking for iPhone app to use for a virtual workshop where I make beats with youth, but also we make visuals that go along with the beats that they made. I was looking for a Beatmaking app that did a lot of different things and had many different ways of experiencing composition.
Someone coming on a platform like BandLab might meet someone that just truly understands how you make music, and that could even encourage and empower you to take more chances with how you create.
Once I signed up, a couple friends that had been using BandLab invited me to collaborate. To me, that was amazing because one of the biggest issues when collaborating on music is having to send so many files and stems in the process, and that takes a really long time. Not only does BandLab have many different methods of making a beat, but the fact that you can record whole songs and share them with people in your own networking community really is exciting to see. It’s really nice seeing a phone app that’s able to have vocal presets on in addition to looping and all types of kits and sounds.
How do you think BandLab can play a part in helping and supporting creators and artists globally?
Honestly, I think that BandLab can really encourage a more swift way for creators to not only get their ideas out, but connect and collaborate with their friends in faster way. It’s easy to put tracks together collaboratively, especially since it’s kinda hard to meet up to jam in a pandemic.
Not only does BandLab have many different methods of making a beat, but the fact that you can record whole songs and share them with people in your own networking community really is exciting to see.
I think it’s also kind of cool that you don’t have to quite stare in front of a computer to get music done with BandLab. Maybe you can sit in a park or a different type of place that can inspire your sound when you share it with people worldwide. These days we have to keep our minds open and allow for creative freedom to truly take its course.
There are thousands of aspiring creators on BandLab. Many of them are here to find connections, promote their music – they’re hoping to make it big. What’s a valuable piece of advice you’d give to these artists?
One thing that I always say is it’s not necessary to always look for the next big thing in music. It’s more valuable to create your own energy with creators that share your level of passion and creativity.
Someone coming on a platform like BandLab might meet someone that just truly understands how you make music and that could even encourage and empower you to take more chances with how you create. This will strengthen your sound to reach your goals. The key thing is to be consistent with your music process and use your connections responsibly to inspire each other and create success in creative communities.
What’s next for Suzi Analogue?
I am always working on many amazing projects at once. Right now I am working with our Never Normal Soundsystem Collective on a collaboration with producers in East Africa. My label Never Normal Records is also launching many dope new tracks and artists.
For myself as Suzi Analogue, I will always have new music to share, and from the music will come new introductions to creative concepts that I hope to share throughout my life. I really can’t wait for people to hear all of the new music, it’s next level. I just want to keep inspiring and being inspired by people unafraid to create.