Irish Alt-Rock quartet Susie-Blue recently released their new single ‘Be A Lady’ – https://soundcloud.com/susie-blue/susie-blue-be-a-lady Lead singer and creative mastermind behind the band Susan Donaghy explain’s that the focus behind the song is “’to tell myself and anyone who wants to listen that it’s okay to be “different” and stereotypes about gender aren’t a thing anymore in 2017”.
It’s a song close to the heart of band members and lead vocalist Susan Donaghy touching on tough subject matters such as homophobia, social acceptance and equality. I got the chance to chat with Susan this morning to talk about life as a young Irish band in the social media generation and the heavy subject matters at heart.
RnL – So Susan, when did you 1st start getting interested in music?
SD – I kinda have been playing and singing from when I was a kid and I learnt guitar from my dad.
RnL – So you come from a musical family?
SD – Yeah some sing and some play instruments.
RnL – So when did you start composing your own stuff?
SD – I think my 1st gig was at an open mic night in a café in Derry, I was still in my school uniform so I guess around 15 or 16.
RnL – When did the guys join to complete the current setup?
SD – The full band setup is about a year old now, we had a few line up changes etc but year around a year now.
RnL – How long did you fly solo for?
SD – I was doing it for around 2 to 3 years I guess, Building up my confidence and allowing me time to write a selection of songs that I really felt comfortable with.
RnL – How does the band experience compare to the Solo life?
SD – I think it’s amazing. Sharing this experience with other members of the band onstage, it’s definitely a more intense experience as well.
RnL – When did you guys start to notice a buzz happening around the band?
SD – You know we just play, eat sleep repeat, record and play our shows so we’re not really aware of what’s going on with the bigger picture.
RnL – What’s it like being an up and coming band in Northern Ireland and what’s your thoughts on the music scene locally?
SD – The music scene in Northern Ireland is really good, in Derry it could definitely do with a bit of a revival. I’d like to see more regular gig nights for original artists but Belfast is really good. The last time we played there was at the Output festival and got a great response.
RnL – Do you feel there’s enough support out there for young musicians locally?
SD – The Nerve Centre in Derry is amazing! Musicians and creative people will help each other out, I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t reached out to local musicians for help. Belfast has the Oh Yeah Centre etc and Help Musicians NI which recently just started up.
RnL – Who would you say were your influences growing up?
SD – I get a lot of Cranberries references when people talk about me which is funny, as I’ve never thought we sound like them., Maybe its just that Irish female vocalist connection people want to put a label on. I would have listened to Sinead O’Connor and Christy Moore and of course Joan Jett, that kinda stuff.
RnL – I recently interviewed a band who formed in LA 35yrs ago in 1982 and here we are on the opposite side of the spectrum, Obviously bands back then had to do it all very differently to build up a fan base. What’s your thoughts on the digital age being from a new generation born of social media, how do you guys make that work for you?
SD – Its really handy, even for keeping in touch with fans etc. Years gone by you would have wrote a fan letter and waited for a response if you ever got one! Now-days you don’t even have to message us, you simply post a comment underneath a photo and we can respond immediately. So its a lot easier to connect with people and I think that feels a lot more personal. People are more likely to support you as they feel they are right there with you.
RnL – Your song subject matters touch on some heavy subject matters, Homophobia, hatred and Social equality and acceptance for LGBT members in society, I’m assuming you’re a member of the LGBT community in Northern Ireland?
SD – I am yes, I feel most people still feel they have to come out in society, I came out to my parents when I was around 16 or so.
RnL – Did you know for a long time before coming out that you didn’t fit the stereotypical mould?
SD – Yeah I guess I knew from about 12, but 12 year olds don’t fully know what’s going on anyway.
RnL – Your song subject matters clearly pull on personal experiences, did the song writing process as a young girl going through this help you through that transitional period?
SD – Yeah for sure, I think the songs helped me tell people stuff that was otherwise hard to say out loud, a 16yr olds heartbreak is a lot heavier than an 19yr olds.
RnL – Did you open up to your friends before approaching your parents?
SD – Yeah I opened up to a group of close friends 1st before talking to my parents.
RnL – Did you find similar friends in similar situations?
SD – No quite the opposite actually, I ended being the only girl out of a school of 500 who had came out.
RnL – Would you have any advice for anyone going through a similar situation?
SD – To be honest every ones situation is completely different; it will depend on their parents, their religious views and if they are in danger of being kicked out from the home. Talk to someone close to you that you completely trust, I promise you someone will always help. You’ll definitely feel alone at some stage but there will always be someone who will be there for you.
RnL – Do you feel it’s a generational issue? Are the younger generation of your age and peer group more understanding a tolerant of change?
SD – Yeah I think they are, but if you’re more open and tolerant but still a misogynist then its nowhere near good enough. I feel with the likes of social media now helps too, before if you were a girl who felt like a boy you felt isolated, like you were the only person going through it. Now with the Internet you have 100 people right in front of you who feel the same and can offer support.
RnL – So what’s next for you in 2017?
SD – We are completing the video for ‘Be A Lady’ which should be out around the start of April, and we’re looking at organising a few dates for the months ahead.
RnL – You recently played London over the St Paddy’s day weekend, how did that go for you?
SD – It was amazing, we were blown away by the response we got, it was lovely.
RnL – Are you guys currently working on new material?
SD – Yeah I have a few new songs on the go and we’re looking towards possibly putting out an EP at some stage all being well.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Susan for taking time to talk to us at Rock n’ Load – Best o’ luck for 2017 and beyond Susie-Blue.