Interview with Singer Suzie Tighe

I enjoy music that’s unique in both sound and lyrics, music that evokes another time or place, music that relaxes me or energizes me. The songs on Suzie Tighe’s self-titled debut album are all of these.

Instead of an album review, the way I often have done on my blog, I have the honor of presenting Suzie’s own words about her new album and her musical journey. So here is Suzie Tighe, in her own words:

This is your debut album, but you’ve had a career in music prior to this, is that correct? Could you share a little about your musical journey up to this point?

Yes, I have been singing seriously since the beginning of the 90’s. Mostly in Montreal, Québec. Sometimes with bands, sometimes solo, in duos, in vocal quartets, vocal quintets, as a back-up singer and in so many styles like rock, pop, jazz, rhythm ‘n blues, Argentinian folklore, world, alternative… I have also written music for different projects, artistic or for non-profit organizations, such as jingles, themes for documentaries, community TV shows, video publicity for fund raising , artistic photography montages, etc…

How did your interest in music begin?

I was always artistic, firstly attracted to any TV shows featuring pop singers from Québec in the sixties. I knew many of the songs by heart even as a small child, so my aunts and uncles tell me. I took a year of piano lessons around 8 years old. Then I was more into theater, cinema and wanted to become an actress. Of course, the old musicals were my favorite; any films with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and later, Bob Fosse. I sang well, with good pitch, but nothing more. But around 15 years old, my singing voice changed a lot. It became very powerful, with a strong soul, bluesy colour. I could suddenly belt out any of the rock radio hits, reach all the high notes and annoy many neighbors. It is also around that time that I started to write songs, a cappella first and then with the help of a guitar and a piano.

Your songs aren’t in English or French. What is this language?

I call my “dialect” lumilandic. It is mainly some invented words, some borrowed ones from different cultures, but not necessarily pronounced the way they should. I did a Google translation of lumi, just for fun, and in Finnish it is supposed to mean snow and in Romanian, world.  Accurate or not, to me, the translation would be closer to “light” lumière in French…

How do you go about creating the lyrics for your songs? Does the melody come first, and then you find words or sounds to fit the music, or do you create the words first?

The music always comes first. It comes from humming during a walk or a car drive, cooking, listening to some music and improvising on the same chord pattern as the song that is playing. For the lyrics, the words have to fit with the ambience and the melody. But the rule is that they must have an emotional, maternal feel or resonance to me and evoke imaginary places, mostly northern, snowy and foggy…

What bands or musicians have most inspired you?

In the very beginning, around 15 or 16, it was Kate Bush who blew me away with her own musical style, unheard before and her haunting music and vocals. I wanted to be her. Then, I was a very big fan of the British band Queen because of all the vocal harmonies, and Freddy Mercury’s incredible singing ability. Later on, music from Talk Talk, the duo Dead Can Dance, some Cirque du Soleil themes, Norwegian folk singer Agnes Buen Garnås, especially the album Rosensfole with Jan Garbarek, some Björk…

What else inspires you to create music?

The incredible urge to sooth, to console, to caress with my voice. I always visualize that I can heal pain with it. Or at least, it is my strong intention. It is a very maternal instinct that leads me to create a melody and to choose how I am going to sing it.

If this album has a theme or a message, what would it be?

We all need hope, kindness and a lullaby sometimes. Even grown ups.

What is your favorite song on this album?

Too hard to answer! But the song that came to me nearly as a spiritual experience was “Kalinieve.” It came all at once, already structured almost, a very short improvisation in front of my big window in my old Montreal apartment. I was with my two cats and we were just watching these giant snowflakes gently whirling down the streets. I will always remember that magical moment and the music that popped in my head all of a sudden.

What are you planning next? Any tours scheduled, or another album in the works?

No touring for now, maybe a concert sometimes this winter in Montreal. I mostly worked in the studio these past years. I have other songs to work on, many ideas that will be on a second album, but no plans as to when.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

Only that dreams come true. It is only a matter of time and determination. I am in my fifties and this is my first solo album. I’ve been singing for decades but I never wanted to make it no matter the cost or the compromise. I wanted to wait until I could find my own voice, my true musical identity, and to choose the collaborators for that dream. And frankly, listening to the result, I can humbly say it was worth the wait, because this album really reflects who I am.

I encourage you to check out Suzie’s album. It is well worth a listen!

Suzie’s Website

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