As somebody that was born and bred on New Wave music, I'm all about this resurgence of synthpop in the contemporary music scene. Chvrches and Passion Pit and others are changing what pop can sound like. But we're also reaching the peak of bands trying to cash in on that sound, and it's all starting to sound a little too polished and a little too mechanical. There aren't enough emerging artists in the field who know the craft and necessity of actual songwriting. But Washington songwriter/synthpop upcoming star Susy Sun
doesn't have that problem.
A classically trained musician, Susy Sun knows how to write a song and she knows the value of a tune that still holds up when you strip away all of the electronic bells & whistles. We have the premiere of Sun's gorgeous new track, "Any Other Way," and we also had the chance to chat with Susy about this resurgence of female vocalists in synth pop, her Washington roots, and what makes great music work.
One of the most visible trends in music right now is pairing electronic music with big pop numbers -- particularly electro-pop numbers sung by female vocalists with stunning voices: Chvrches, Lorde, etc. As someone who certainly seems to fit into that category, what do you think is causing this surge in appeal for this type of music.
Susy Sun: I think it's a combination of several things including the ease and access to technology to produce this style of music, mixed with a culture that wants instant gratification. This new sound of pop/electronica is catchy and makes you feel good. It's easy to digest.
The music that I enjoy is generally a cross between electronic and authentic instrumentation. The lyrics need to be meaningful too -- I like a good song at its core. When the production, or ear candy, is stripped away, is it still beautiful?
As far as the ladies being in the spotlight, it's a great thing. Music needs more female empowerment. Girl power all the way. Also, a lot of these ladies started as singer/songwriters and then partnered with producers. It's sort of a blend of folk/pop with electronica.
Were there any particular pop artists or electronic artists that influenced your direction as an artist?
Christine and the Queens, Ellie Goulding, Lorde. When I was younger, I was always a sucker for a good pop song, Donna Lewis, "I love you always forever," The Cardigans "Love Fool," and anything from the Spice Girls. Those songs were always running through my head, along with any pop song by The Beatles.
You're from Washington and when I think of artists from the Pacific Northwest, I primarily think of folk/singer-songwriter acts and alt-rock. Is there a booming electronic scene in Washington at the moment?
Seattle is super eclectic and there is a booming electronic/chill wave vibe, along with a million other genres. I recently collaborated with Manatee Commune and Go Periscope you can hear it all on my Soundcloud. A lot of these artists who work from their laptop are super interested in incorporating real instruments into their sound.
With my music, I wouldn't define it as solely electronic. I have a classical piano background and write all of my material at the piano. I also use piano in my live shows; I am evolving and expanding with my production, but will always use real instruments in my live show. My first album, Wanderlust
, was actually very folk/singer-songwriter/chamber pop-esque genres are merging these days, and I love it. I loved the organic sound with big strings and raw instruments, but moving forward, I wanted to capture my music in a different way. As I'm growing as a person, I want my music to evolve too. For me, this means working with producers, beats and pop music. It's also about capturing a feeling. I can always write folk/pop music at my piano and perform solo, but to take it to this new level and really tackle a new genre is VERY exciting for me! I hope to always evolve and make different music as the years pass.
Your next record will be coming out in 2016. What can folks who enjoy "Any Other Way" expect from the forthcoming release?
I have another single coming out after "Any Other Way," which is a much darker sound and quite emotive. It was produced by the same team down in LA, Jon Redwine and 52nd street productions. I'll have music videos too. I'm extremely involved in the process of creating visuals to go along with my music. I also have some stripped down/acoustic versions of the songs that will be released, which feature Andrew Joslyn on strings back to my roots.
I'm almost finished with my full album, which I've been recording in LA. Most of the songs I write sitting at the piano and bring to my producer and we add in the instrumentation together. We wrote a couple songs together, without me sitting at the piano, which is a first for me. He laid down a beat and bass line, and we went from there. It's cool to be challenged in the studio this way and I really like it. You can expect lots of layering of vocal harmonies, which is my favorite part of recording. The new songs are very open and honest, the sound is dreamy, but the melodies are catchy. There are a few songs that feel very dark and artistic, and others that are a bit more lighthearted and will get stuck in your head. It's an eclectic assortment of songs. Of course, you will just have to hear it to really see what I mean.