Susie Asado came to exist in 2007. It started as the solo project of Josepha Conrad and it was to become an outlet for her poetry and a way to search for her own voice. Since the beginning she stayed true to herself and performed the type of music that was deeply personal and closest to her heart, and to this day it would be hard to find an act that sounds anything like it.
Susie Asado, now a full band, is set to release new album titled Traffic Island. The first word that springs to mind when you think of Susie Asado’s music is “weird”. Don’t be discouraged, in this case “weird” is “good”. The arrangements on the latest release are meticulously put together to form a soft landing for her original lyrics and unique manner of singing. Heavily set in blues with jazz elements the album is a delicious treat for the soul and mind.
I met up with Josepha and talked among others about the new album, the band and how she likes her tea.
You started performing in Crazy for Jane and then later you decided start your own project Susie Asado. What was the immediate reason for you to do that?
I was very curious about being able to perform solo. I was very scared about doing that, and I felt that if I were to do that then I would need to do it in some kind of a disguise. I wouldn’t be able to do it as Josepha. I would also need to perform songs that have nothing to do with Crazy for Jane because I didn’t want to make anybody feel like I was leaving them out. I wanted to write songs where the words could really stand on their own and be weird. It was an attempt to make something where I didn’t have to think about someone else. I just thought it would be nice to have a solo project. It’s funny that it grew into a band. It certainly wasn’t the intention. I’m excited that it grew into a band, that it grew into anything at all. I don’t think I was thinking beyond one or two shows. It was just this thing where I thought “I wanna dare myself to perform solo, and I’m going to have to dress up for it because I can’t do it without dressing up”.
Do you remember that first show?
It was at Antje Oeklesund, and I performed with Skirt and Music for Your Heart. I was really scared, and I was embarrassed about my guitar playing because I’m a lousy guitar player. I was sure everybody was going to find me out. The interesting thing was that the show was actually great, and I remember the songs standing out. It felt good.
The name Susie Asado comes from a Gertrude Stein’s poem under the same title. You mention on your website that at the time you didn’t understand completely what it was about. And now? How do you interpret it?
It feels like a map to me now, and I feel like it works on a level that isn’t just intellectual but is physical. It almost feels like a DNA structure or some kind of rhizome that sort of twirls around attaches and reshapes something.
So Susie Asado is not a person then?
I mean there are different speculations as to who Susie Asado is. It could be a person, it could just be a moment. For me it feels like a code to something. If I allow myself to be in the coloring of Susie Asado, I can operate on a different level. If I could choose a different DNA, I would choose that DNA, and because of that I can be in that world.
So you feel safer when you play as Susie Asado? More confident?
Yeah in that world I could do things that I can’t do as Josepha and I certainly can’t go on…I mean, I can go on stage and sing songs but I’m not really interested in that sort of authenticity. I’m much more interested in something that is a little more artificial and more articulated crafted.
What does Josepha Condrad and Susie Asado have in common?
I guess it’s the moments between songs. If I’m performing often, I sort of drop it between songs, sometimes I don’t. I experiment. Sometimes I just kind of let it go, and I allow silence, and I allow myself to reconnect to my more human parts. I think there you would see it the most, between songs.
Tell me about the new album. It’s been three years since your last one. Tell me about the process of creation, how long it took you etc..
Hello Antenna came out in 2008, and since 2009 we’ve been in some kind of process of making this.
When you say “we” who do you mean?
I mean Tomi Simatupang, Marko Hefele, and Jason Levis. At first we tried to find a way of recording it, and we had different ideas. We worked with different people, and we needed to figure out solutions to different challenges. For example, suddenly we were working with percussion which made it much harder to record live with us all together in a room. So we started isolating the instruments, but the sounds that came out of that were hard for me. I come from a much more lo-fi background, and when we tried to make something more articulated I realized that I didn’t really like articulated sound. So after having recorded a bunch of sound, we threw out what we made. In a way it was actually a painful process, but what we found was that we really do like recording live and that we like sitting all next to each other. We don’t want to be isolated in different rooms or just hear each other over the headphones. Once we figured out how important that was, making the album was real fun. We recorded it last year with Norman Nitzsche who also mixed the album, and then we had it mastered.