Suzi Analogue is a storyteller in every sense of the word. Her multimedia performances create narratives through juxtaposition, her label Never Normal Records is a platform to collect and present the stories of other artists and communities, and her approach to electronic music is to use these tools empower everyone to tell their own story. We chatted with Suzi about her gear, her record label, and her artistic philosophies.
The HUB: Talk about your label, Never Normal Records.
Suzi Analogue: I started Never Normal Records when I was living in the Bronx, New York, and it is a collection of audiovisual recordings and archives from composers of color— electronic-based music from communities all around the world. Innovators, pioneers, the sounds of places, the sounds of cities, the sounds of corners, you know? That's really what Never Normal is— bringing more attention and light to the innovators of our surroundings. Some of the artists we have in our Never Normal Soundsystem Collective are NO EYES, DJ Earl, RaFia, Ziggee Gold, J Words, myself, Heavee, Amani Fela, Ted Kamal, Queens D.Light in Oakland, and Nappy Nappa, from DC, I mean, people are from every city.
The HUB: Tell us about your music.
SA: My music is electronic-based music. I grew up listening to electronic music, whether it was techno, hip-hop, or house. That feeling that I got from listening to The Perculator for the first time, I try to recreate that on every track, just the feeling itself. I just dropped ZONEZ Volume 4, and that's my audio-visual mood board. There's music and visuals paired together, guerilla filmmaking style, and just bringing the sounds to life, there's a lot of messages, a lot of mantras on ZONEZ and in my music that I try to share with people and give some motivation.
The HUB: What is your live performance rig like?
SA: Right now, I have a MIDI controller launching clips from Ableton. And then I have an Organelle by CRITTER & GUITARI. I love that thing because it's so multi-dimensional— I also use it for my vocals. I might have the Teenage Engineering OP-1 up there sometimes. And I'm always bringing new pieces into my life. But I keep my live show rig compact since I travel a lot, and I travel alone. My favorite pieces of music equipment are things that I could just put in a tote bag and have a powerful sound. I love the portable products, and so that's my focus, finding the portable products with the punch when I'm looking for things to perform with.
Suzi Analog performing live, photo by Marlene Sanchez
The HUB: How did you get so deep into creating music the way you do?
SA: I have always just been obsessed with making, and I'm realizing that more and more each day as I go through my artistry. I thought, you know, you just grow up being, like, oh, I'm creative. No, I was obsessed with making, specifically. So even when I was listening to music as a kid, I was thinking, who made this song? And I was trying to find out who it was, and what they were about. My mom played a lot of great records. I was always trying to find out who the artists were, who the producers were, and the writers. As soon as I got my hands on any technological equipment, my karaoke machine, my little Casio keyboard, I just started writing and recording my own songs at age 9, and that's basically what I still do, I just am kind of an adult now. You focus on using electronic music to empower people from different perspectives to have a voice.
The HUB: Why is electronic music well-suited for this?
SA: Electronic synthesis is based on voice shapes and you can add power to change it and shift it. We know what our voices do, but we just naturally use our voices. With keys and knobs and parameters and visualizers, it's a whole different way to approach something that we know is within us. So, from a human perspective, I see a lot of human connections to electronic sound. But it's also otherworldly. It doesn't sound like piano, it doesn't sound like guitar, it doesn't sound like anything. It sounds like something that came from another planet. It’s amazing. There are pioneers who have made people stop and say, wow, you can do this?
The HUB: Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share with the Musician's Friend audience?
SA: I would just like to say for people who are creating, find ways to enjoy your process. Find the things that work for you. You don't always have to get every single piece of gear in the world. It's not about having what everybody else has. It's about having what you know how to work, and you know how to make special. It’s really endless the ways that you can interact and share with people and it’s really important for whatever cultural aspect you come from, no matter what, that you are telling your story.
Keep up with Suzi Analogue at SuziAnalogue.com.