Profile: Suzi Analogue
Nia Hampton | Monday November 13th 2017
Suzi Analogue is having one hell of a year. The producer, songwriter and creator of Never Normal Records has taught and performed all over the US, as well as internationally – most notably in Tokyo and Uganda. This year, she’s scoring feminist horror films, runway shows and preparing to launch an international music collective, and to top it off, her song “NRG NRG” will be featured in an episode Comedy Central’s Broad City.
The Baltimore native took a break from her world tour with Princess Nokia to talk about scoring her first New York Fashion Week runway show for CHROMAT (a 2017 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund winner), and how her score spoke to the strength it takes to achieve serenity.
ATPB: Let’s get into how you scored the Chromat Show. How did you come across the brand?
SA: With being a part of the East Coast Underground community, particularly Philly up to New York I became aware of Chromat from other DJs who are femme and female-identifying artists, and I just stayed connected to what they were doing. When it came time for me to shoot some new visuals for my ZONEZ project, I was going up to work in New York, and I figured I would reach out and wear some Chromat pieces. I love the #ChromatBabe identity and what Chromat stands for as far as being a woman. I identify as a womanist and just like their pieces, I’m interested in pushing that dynamic stylistically through what I wear. So that’s how we started our relationship but also last year I had already worked and performed with Discwoman. Which is a producer and DJ collective that is primarily on the East Coast. But it is a worldwide collective of women and nonbinary-identified producers, and from that performance, that’s where Becca the designer of Chromat saw me perform at MOMA PS1. That’s where she got the idea to be a part of the runway show – and not even the season she saw my show, the season after that. So she really had it in her mind for a while to ask me. That’s kind of the beginning, it was very organic.
ATPB: Wow. That’s dope. So was this your first fashion week?
SA: Yes! Well no. I’ve participated/attended fashion week shows before. But this was my first fashion week where I produced any music, or performed any music. Um, so yeah, it was my first time being a part of the fashion week craziness.
ATPB: So how was it?
SA: Um, it was crazy, fast-paced – but, it made me realize, many steps I’ve taken in my career geared me for that moment. And doing special projects is actually what I love best. That’s actually the basis of the Never Normal Soundsystem. It’s not that we just release projects, it’s that we do special projects that can be live and enviromental, so I was really excited, just off the bat, to see, if my process, would be good. And the process itself, it was fast paced in a way but also, I had to tune in so much. It was so many stages of it, each stage felt different. I had a month to complete it. Like under a month, literally. Yeah. So, the first week or so, was just playlisting and coming up with textures, sonic textures that conveyed what she wanted to present. It went from that to a few conversations to making a demo and for most of it, it was a mix of reaching out to friends and really just being very insular and going to my studio, zoning out and playing music for hours. Literally, I was playing every record so I could get the references I wanted to. I really wanted to convey, a strong message. I think that’s what Chromat is about.
ATPB: For those of us who haven’t seen the show, what was the message about?
SA: The message was about the empowerment that could come from self discovery. It had different motifs. The collection was called “Serenity” so it’s about, finding the piece that comes within your self discovery journey. It’s a process to it. The show and the sounds, and the visuals and everything that comes with it – the steps toward self discovery. Opening yourself to connect to the world in a real way and become your own new form after all the self discovery. It was juxtaposed with the process of a volcanic eruption. So, it’s like taking the information that naturally occurs, the pressure that you feel – the self discovery, opening up, figuring out the landscape and feeling lava. I use the concept of lava as confidence, bubbling up inside of you and erupting into this flowing lava and it’s hot and it’s just a lot of activity, and how that relates to the people around you. And so, I was able to convey this through song, which was really amazing.
ATPB: Was the show always going to be about that process or did you bring that to Chromat?
SA: The show was “Serenity” originally. Becca went to the Natural History Museum in New York, she researches all her inspirations and she gets into it. I know she’s done collections in the past about light and art exhibits. This one was about formations and how new things, rocks and metals and things like that. So for whatever reason, that’s what she pulled out of the process, “Serenity”. This is a serene process. This is her second [or third] show since she’s gotten married as well. She’s a newlywed and now she’s getting into the process of partnership. And I think there’s something serene in that process that she’s connected to and found some kind of solidarity with the rocks.
She came up with that idea, she showed me a mood board, the idea of the volcano thing. And I really took to that and ran with that! I connect to that on an astrology level. I liken myself to a volcano. Just because of how my elements are set up on my chart. That’s my energetic sync. So I understood the process of a volcanic eruption. Cause I feel close and connected to that process.
ATPB: This is all so interesting conceptually. When I think of Chromat,I think of hard lines and angles, but the idea of “Serenity” is about grace and these words that people kind of generally assume are soft, but it takes a lot of work to be “Serene” or “Graceful” or even “Soft”. For example, a ballerina? That takes years of muscle memory to hold certain movements. And a lot of people don’t get that. I personally get anxious around the concept of being “free spirited”. I know what it means, but when certain people use it, I feel like they’re implying there is an an ease, that actually doesn’t really exist. Freedom isn’t free. None of this is easy. It looks easy, but that’s because I’m pulling it off.
SA: EXACTLY! And then the other thing is that, we had four trans models walk in the show. And the one who closed the show, just got a new surgery to complete her feminization and I just think that process of becoming who you want to be, to be in that serene peace of mind headspace, is something that Becca understood and wanted to speak to in the collection. My whole life has been a process, and I guess that she knew that I could convey that. I love how organically that came together. And you’re right. I don’t think enough attention is given to the process of becoming serene. It takes self control and self support and gracefulness is something that you learn. And it’s not fake, it’s completely authentic. Because it’s how you walk and handle situations. The women in my life, my personal life were very graceful women and they showed me a lot. I didn’t know until now how much there lessons would effect me in a positive way but, they showed me what grace really was. They found their own kind of serenity, although that process was painful. So I just think it’s something to consider. We’re marginalized, women of color we’re disenfranchised in so many ways, from resources that we need. The whole thing is about our Serenity and continuing on. And not like “strong black woman” dynamic – like that’s there, that’s a part of finding your serenity, cause you have to be strong to command all of that peace of mind when everything surrounds you is crazy and you’re like wait a minute – I’m gonna find the calm in this storm. I really feel like that’s what Becca wanted to touch on with the collection. It had a juxtaposition to it, it wasn’t just “serene” like beautiful and flowing. It was her kind of serene and that’s another thing that we have to be able to be identify, as women of the now and the future. We have to be able to say, “is this your kind of serene?” or “is this my kind of serene?” And her kind of serene still had a strength to it. It’s all dope at the end of the day.
ATPB: This makes so much sense in just knowing your story. You’re an artist who has stuck through and it’s really great to see you get these opportunities to keep going forward. Especially because- from what I know- you’re doing something that’s never necessarily been done. There’s no real blueprint, from what I know.
SA: I say that all the time, Nia! Like, “Yo there’s literally no blueprint for what I’m doing”. I have no boss. I have no instructions.
ATPB: You really outchea [laughs]
SA: Yeah! Idealistically, it’s interesting. I like what Becca is doing as well because she didn’t study fashion design, she studied architecture.
ATPB: I can see that!
SA: You see! She really understands building something. And for me, someone who is actually creating a blueprint, it’s like, thank you for being a creative that can understand that level of commitment to the process of building something. We didn’t look at other runway shows, we didn’t say, “oh, what did Balenciaga do?” We didn’t ever talk about any other designer ever. And it wasn’t even an ego thing. It was moreso, we’re building our own thing, let’s give it a shot. And that was the process the whole time. It was really cool to have a creative come from a different background then what they’re specialized in now. And approaching this as a building foundation experience. It was all so gratifying and encouraging.
ATPB: You’re really out here killing it. Ever since I met you, you’ve been out here hustling.
SA: When you met me I was doing nail art. It was at a time where I was learning to create something that wasn’t there. And that taught me a lot. And now it’s helped me to create things in our music community that isn’t there. More young artists of color- no, not even young- artists of all ages need to be encouraged. We’re multi-generational. Never Normal Records even released something from Count Bass D, who is my elder. So we’re breaking down whatever gaps we can to just bring people together. But starting Nail Tite actually helped me get my bearings. I learned how to interact with people, how to make it organic, how to make it healing. That really taught me a lot. And it was just a passion project, something I really loved. I love my nails being done. It was really cool. And I’m sure you can see how later the nail art industry boomed beyond belief.
ATPB: Yes! If you wanted to come back around and revisit that, there’s still space.
SA: Yeah totally. It’s just something that I’m glad I was able to be a part of and hopefully as my business grows bigger and bigger I’ll be able to touch and bring in different elements of my beginning back in. It’s funny, now I’m on tour with Princess Nokia and she found a flyer. Every Time we’re on stage, she says, “this is Suzi, this is my sister – I love her! She was at my first show.” And in my mind, I’m like, what show was I at? And she found the flyer on facebook. I was doing nails at a show that she played! I didn’t even know that was her first show, she was going by a different name then. And I did not know that was her first show! Here’s the thing, her family and my family are both from the Bronx.
ATPB: My dad is from the Bronx too!
SA: So you already know, it’s not just a place, it’s an energy. So when I saw her first video I got it. And I was just happy to do nails at the show. And now, we’re at the same agency and we work together and it feels good to watch things fall organically into place. Just to know that, just by putting myself out there in a creative way-even though back then I was doing music as well- just challenging myself to get out there and meet new people has made me very happy. And now to see that things are going the right way – is really refreshing and encouraging.