Referred to as a one-woman band, Bristol’s Suzy Condrad is a beatbox artist with a penchant for the loop pedal. Her performances are always a spontaneous affair – with nothing pre-recorded, and ever open to the unpredictable nature of both herself as an artist, and the always dynamic environment in which she performs her music.
Having honed her craft, busking in the streets of Camden, Suzy now resides in Bristol where she is an active voice in the city’s music community. Suzy has performed as part of Harboured Sounds in collaboration with the Harbourside Market, and has released one album: She of Little Faith, with another in progress.
Drawing on childhood inspirations which grew from her home life and the education to certain musical artists that she received via her Father, Suzy explains:
“I had a childhood steeped in music. I grew up listening to everything from Buddy Holly to Ella Fitzgerald to The Kinks. Our Father used to make us mix tapes from radio programmes. No one else in my family played an instrument but I later realised that there was a part of myself that I just couldn’t express any other way and my life felt incomplete until I eventually started to write.”
Suzy’s creative approach is partially influenced by her perspective on life and the eyes she sees the world through, as she explains, and it is through this heightened perception that she finds her compositions taking shape:
“I have synaesthesia, so I see sounds as colours and shapes in my mind’s eye. Some of the less conventional instruments jump out as the most colourful to me, which is why I’ve been drawn to tuned percussion, blowing bottles and synthesisers for instance, rather than the more ubiquitous piano and guitar. I try to approach each song as a mix and make sure there’s enough contrasting tones and frequencies but still enough space for each. That said, you have to experiment, because not everything is picked up well by a mic and you never know if a combination of sounds that you picture in your mind will work in real life!”
Suzy recently performed at the harbourside as part of Harboured Sounds – with the next event taking place on 12 December. Talking about the experience of busking to a passing-by audience:
“Busking is the ‘sharp end’ of musical performance – your audience are incidental and not expecting to be there, so if you can get some of them to stop and listen it’s immensely rewarding. It’s also the best way to hone your performance.” Says Suzy.
“I think all art forms can be honest and expressive but personally for me music simply feels more real than anything else – I joke that if my life flashed before me, most of it would be songs.”
Bristol has given Suzy the confidence to perform her music in public, and having grown up in this city, she is very familiar with the wealth of musical talent within the city’s boundaries:
“I was very shy growing up and didn’t get to many gigs. It wasn’t until I started to perform myself that I began to appreciate the grassroots music scene and its diversity. Then loop pedals started to appear all over Bristol and I took the plunge after seeing some diverse and amazing artists such as Stanton Delaplane, SJ Esau, Alex Taylor, Mr Woodnote and Dub FX.”
Within the DIY spirit of Bristol’s artists and musicians, there are the likes of Jemima Surrender, Laura Kidd (aka She Makes War) and Rachael Dadd, to name a few. Suzy is a believer in making your own luck and creating opportunities for yourself, with passion and the willingness to give things a go:
“Bristol has a thriving independent art scene and many different types of creative people come together and collaborate with their different skills – Harboured Sounds is a perfect example of this. I also attended a songwriting workshop which really helped to hone the process and keep the ideas flowing.” Suzy explains.
Suzy Condrad is not afraid to break into new realms, musically, and in defining herself as a Loop artist, she has achieved success in various competitions across the UK including the Boss Looping Championships. Ultimately, Suzy has been able to master the skill of using a loop pedal, to her advantage – meaning that she can be a ‘one-person band’ and not have to rely on others:
“Looping is an adventure. The biggest challenges to me have been getting each song to work sonically with so many sounds going into the looper. Sometimes it’s good to make the audience wait as you build up loops, other times you have to be ready to do something sudden and dramatic.”
Set against the backdrop of her beats, Suzy is herself a poet who channels this creativity into her lyrics, where she finds inspiration from various sources:
“I write about characters I’ve created in my imagination, politics, and finding your inner strength. I think lyrics are important and I work hard on them, but ultimately it’s the music that carries you.”
Within Bristol, Suzy has both supported and found support from the local, live music communities, venues and independent platforms dedicated to giving a voice to Bristol’s creative artists:
“I think it’s really important to hold up a mirror to the live scene and document moments in time. For emerging artists it provides a potential new audience and it’s important to have authentic footage you can show people to get more gigs. I have really enjoyed playing at the Golden Lion, the sound and atmosphere are always good there. I occasionally go down to the Leftbank open mic which is very lively and a great place to try out new material.”
As for inspiration, Suzy finds songs emerging from the most unlikeliest of places:
“My number one place for having new ideas used to be sitting on the X14 bus! But now that I have a car, most of my ideas are born at home in Montpelier experimenting in my basement music room with my looper and Pro Tools.”
Suzy Condrad will be performing in Bristol at Harboured Sounds, on Bristol Harbourside on 12 December. Suzy will be on at midday. She will also be playing at the Windmill Hill City Farm on the same day at 3pm.
For more information: www.suzycondrad.com