By Jocelle Koh
Best known for her breathtakingly unique voice and quirky performance of her original song ‘野子The Wild Child’, Sue aka Su Su is a cartoon character come to life. As a long-time fan of her whimsical, eclectic personality and innovative musical offerings, upon starting our conversation I professed my love for her music, and “Got it, I feel it!” was her chirpy reply.
The 27 year-old singer-songwriter who hails from the island of Hainan recently released her second album 幻 Fantasy, promising more of the same Sue we know and love, but with new, increasingly electronic insights gleaned from her experiences over the last two years.
“The second album will have lots of different genres and vocal deliveries. Of course in these two years I’ve begun to have different feelings and thoughts about life and this naturally became part of my music. Some about love, and also some which are slightly sad…and also some that are meant to encourage everyone. Actually this album’s songs are quite diverse and versatile.”
While the Sue we knew from the first album seemed to be full of freewheeling, otherworldly creative energies, the musical pixie is in fact equally down-to-earth. As do the best creatives, the chirpy singer knows her way around a set of emotions.
“I am someone who really likes to feel and indulge in every emotion; no matter if it is a difficult situation or a good situation, so I just feel that all these things are very normal, and in the process of experiencing things and growing, these are just things we all chance upon. Such as happiness, anger, misfortune, fun and encountering things that you feel are out of your depth, and now as we slowly grow there will be more different perspectives to view these things we could not understand before.”
Indeed, Su Su sees the world a little differently from others, gleaning inspiration from the most weird and wonderful places. In one of the tracks from her album ‘生活倒影 Shadow of Life’, she found herself inspired by an advertisement for tea leaves!
“I was watching a … documentary about nature…But in the middle … there was an ad about tea leaves. And in the middle of it there was one scene with a tea farmer, probably a middle-aged brother who was in the tea plantation sowing the leaves. And it looked pretty tiring, but it wasn’t that kind of really dispirited tiredness, he seemed like he was enjoying the process of picking the leaves. There was just this one image of him and the look in his eyes and the nature around him; it made me feel ‘mm?’ it touches my heart for a moment and then I remembered this image…Then on the second day when I woke up I drank a glass of water, opened the windows and looked at the building across the street and suddenly thought of the ad on TV, the scenery and so wrote this song.”
We then found ourselves having a lengthy discussion about the demographic of 40-50 year-old men and how they don’t talk about their feelings. In a longwinded way, maybe this song was written for them?
“I think when they reach this age men seem to have quite a lot of stress (laughs). And men aren’t the kind to be willing to talk about their feelings… Not like girls who like to chat. And when you get to their age there’s even more responsibility and makes me think of the look in the eyes of older brothers, their helplessness and the compromises they have to make …”
While working with the likes of music greats such as Shilei Chang 常石磊 and Arai Soichiro 荒井十一 have truly brought her musical works to the next level with their otherworldly ideas, Su credits her family with being her core inspiration on her path:
“On my musical journey I think family (has inspired me most). Because my family’s musical atmosphere has always been very weighty and my parents and brother all really liked to sing. And when we were home all four of us would sing together as a family. “
Sue’s musical talent is undeniable; to all who have met her and heard her voice. No words are needed to describe her, as her sound most truly speaks for itself. Just like her personality, Sue’s music is straightforward. It doesn’t hide a sliver of what she is thinking; instead displays it in all its vibrance and colour.
The singer exudes this sense of unspoken confidence that is admirable. Somehow, singing and creating seems to have always been a part of her, and naturally translated into a lifelong vocation. And as for her future plans, we of course had to know if she might be bringing her music to more international audiences anytime soon. And for the first time, the cheerful creative gave a mysterious (but confident) reply:
“This is all in my blueprint, and I’ll accomplish it slowly, step by step.”
The world is indeed Sue’s oyster, and her passion instils an unwavering confidence in audiences around the world as she delivers her music to those in need. And as this year draws to a close, we think her pixie magic is needed now more than ever.
Sue 蘇運瑩’s latest album ‘幻’ is out now on all streaming platforms.