Interview: Suzi Analogue on Channeling Her Best Self Through Music

While enjoying a performance in the crowd at the 2016 Hopscotch Music Festival, I felt a blast of energy hurl towards the right of my body. When I looked to my side, I saw a woman with curly hair, thick glasses and a vintage kimono walking towards me. Before she introduced herself, I knew that she was Suzi Analogue.
I've met a few people that I've known online or seen on social media and sometimes the in person that I meet in real life doesn't match who they seem to be online. This was not the case with Maya Shipman. Maya, most famously known by her stage name, Suzi Analogue, is the definition of consistency. From her sound to her music videos to the people she surrounds herself with to her look, it all just makes sense.
Throughout the festival and in between sets, I got some time to really get to know Suzi and she is honestly one of my favorite people in the industry ever. After listening to Suzi Analogue on Spotify all day, it was cool to see her kill her live set. After the set, we headed back to her hotel room so that she could get ready for her secret show and I designated myself as everyone's driver that night. 
That was a mistake. Imagine having to tell a Billboard charted artist to step over your left over Panera Bread and bras that fell out of your suitcase as she crammed into your back seat. Not a good look, but she was cool about it. 

With fear that the beloved producer and song writer would get mobbed by fans if we stepped outside during the festival, Suzi and I took a few minutes backstage to talk about her music, how she developed her cool style and how she is developing into her best self.
QBL:What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
SA:When people listen to my music, I want them to feel alive, I want them to feel present and I want them to feel hopefully. I want them to feel confident that they can achieve anything.
QBL: Have you felt pressure to change your eclectic style?
SA:When someone is younger, like a teenager, we all go through wanting to try to fit in to what we perceive is perfect. But once I realized there was no real concept of perfect, I just wanted to be my best self. So once I realized that, I did feel a need to change, but it was a need to change to become more of myself. I wanted to visually show people how I feel inside.
QBL: So, you seem pretty extroverted from my point of view. Do you agree with that?
SA:I'm 50/50. 
QBL: 50/50, so you're an ambivert? I think that's what they call it! I heard that term the other day and was like, yes, that's me!
SA: Is that what it's called? Ha! Yeah, that makes sense because it's like being ambidextrous. It just sounds so weird. Well then, yeah! I'm an ambivert! I've taken several personality tests because I'm really into psychology. I took a lot of psychology courses in school and anytime that I'd take a personality test, I always tested equal in both. It definitely goes into how I approach my creative process too because I'm very dual in that way. 
That's why I'm a producer and a songwriter. As a producer, I'm behind the scenes and my life is mostly chilling, listening closely and spending more time by myself or collaborating one-on-one with an artist, whereas being a songwriter and someone who sings their songs for people, I'm out there on a stage in front of thousands of people and I enjoy that too. I try to show both sides of my personality when I perform.
QBL: I can tell because your shows are one of a kind and you yourself have a very unique and quirky style. Have you always been this Suzi?
SA: Pretty much! My mom always dressed me cool and she was always the best dressed. Her mom was the same way. Both rocked a classic red lip and were very ladylike, so I definitely picked that side up; but, I always did things to my clothes that would make my mom say, "Why are you trying to make your outfits ugly? I mean I like it, but what are you doing?" Ha! She had her ideas of what it meant to be put together and I had mine. I'm just kind of wild and choose to walk on the wild side a little bit more than some others. 
QBL: So was there ever a defining moment when you finally like, 'you know what this is who I am and anyone who doesn't like it can suck it?' for lack of a better phrase.
SA: I actually really did get a lot of encouragement from my mom because she really wanted me to be my own person and be independent. Like, I remember back when I was in second grade and picture day was coming up, my mom had this cute blouse in her closet that I wanted to wear. Now mind you, I was a tall kid for my age, so I could fit it but it was super baggy. I saw it and was like, "Mom can I wear this on picture day" and she let me wear it! Now, I look back and the blouse was so big, but I was just so happy and styling! Ha! I had my legs crossed and everything!
QBL: Ha! You were probably like, "yeah, I look good. Take my picture!"
SA: Exactly! Moments like that just pushed me along and helped my come alive and be who I wanted to be without ever questioning or doubting myself. My mom was never like, "no, you can't do that." Of course we had our boundaries and everything, but she never limited my creativity and that's why now I take risks.
QBL: That's so important. I come from a family when it's like the "hip hop lifestyle and culture" is what is seen as the model, so when I used to show up to family gatherings wearing my lace gloves and other seemingly weird things, I got so much pushback. It's great that your family was so supportive.

What advice would you give to say a quirky, Black girl in high school who is afraid to show people who she really is?
SA: I would say that you focus on figuring out who your support group really is. We grow up thinking that our support is our immediate family, and there's nothing wrong with wanting to rely on your family because you definitely should. You should also have friends that are there for you and that can be your emotional, creative and intellectual support. Not even just friends, but mentors. I've had some great mentors even back in middle school.
QBL: I wish that more people would seek out mentorship from a younger age.
SA: I think that mentorship should be mandatory really. You should find someone in your community that's doing what you want to do. Like, if you like the neighborhood hairdresser and she's poppin', hang out with her and see how she does business. Keep it personal, of course, because there is so much value in cultivating a relationship. Mentorship helped me keep my mind open because I've seen so much. 
Sometimes when people think one type of way and are closed minded, it limits you definitely and you feel like you have to go along with it, but once you branch out, you look back at yourself and think, "why did I do that this whole time?" So my advice is find your support, seek mentorship and work towards opening your mind.
Listen to Zonez V1 and Zonez V2
Want more Suzi? Make sure to add Suzi Analogue's latest project, Zonez V2 on Spotify and to follow her on Instagram to find out about her latest collaborations and shows.
Photography: Joshua Aurelius Galloway
 photo www.GIFCreator.me_VNQbu6_zpsvg3sfq8t.gif

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