Photo: Bre Furlong
Occasionally a song and video fits the meta narrative of our times so accurately that it picks itself up from our deep ocean of pitches, and Suzanne Sheer's latest single did just that. Because the video is so excellent, we don't want give away too much from this Philly via Pittsburgh artist's brilliantly creative visualizer, so check that first before you dive into her thoughtful answers below.
Ones to Watch: Who is Suzanne Sheer?
Suzanne Sheer: Suzanne Sheer is a 29-year-old singer-songwriter born in Pittsburgh, living in Philly. She loves her friends, her cat, falling in love, psychedelics, being near the ocean, and writing songs.
What is "Girls on the Internet" all about?
"Girls on the Internet" is about dating and relationships in the digital age. It is about being able to pick up your phone, tap into social media, and see who your partner finds attractive, and all of the insecurities this creates in your head. The thought, "This person doesn't look anything like me… is this who they really want?" Simultaneously, it is a song of admiration, specifically to women, and their ability to seduce and attract with a simple photo.
We loved the song for a lot of reasons, but also loved the tension between resentment and respect. What inspired that dichotomy?
The song is in no way a diss track toward women. Although there may be tones of envy, writing it was really my way to make myself feel as special as it seemed like my boyfriend at the time thought all of these women were. As if to say, "Well I could never and will never look like this, but watch me turn this into art. See? I'm special too!" Which, in retrospect, is sort of sad, but it made for a good song.
On the other hand, I have played the role of the "girl on the internet" many times. I enjoy posting sexy and seductive photos and receiving a DM about them from different guys moments after. It is almost like a fun game, an instant endorphin rush. I also absolutely love women. I love everything about them. All of them. I love to see them feeling themselves and wanting to share that with the digital world. I am always on the sidelines clapping for the girlies.
I also wanted to create a song for women who maybe are in relationships where they feel their partner has a wandering eye, that they can relate to and invoke a feeling of power, to mute the feeling of insecurity they feel when they see that their partner has double tapped yet another photo of someone who looks nothing like them.
Production-wise, the eerie dark tones match the message perfectly… How did you accomplish that?
Luckily, I was given a chance to make this album with two of the most talented people I've ever met. I went back recently and listened to the first bounce we did of this track and was reminded how insanely different the final version is. Expo, the main producer of The Blue Hour, probably lost a few years of his life perfecting this beat. I think it is so important that who you're working with musically understands you as a person and understands the message of your songs.
Expo and Lotits are the best at this. Doubling as my producers and closest friends allowed them to understand the sound and feel of this song, and be able to take the message of the lyrics and create the dark, wavy, and chilling production on it. Also, being able to relate to the lyrics themselves - and create from the perspective of perhaps who I was writing about - allowed us to create one track, with multiple inspired energies.
You are a relatively new artist but have been in the game for a long time. How'd you settle on your current sound?
When I first started writing music, I was only 14. I was learning the piano by ear and essentially imitating big ballads of artists I was inspired by. Writing extremely heavy lyrics about things I hadn’t experienced yet but could still visualize and feel. I can't even begin to count the amount of times some adult or peer would say, "Your songs are so sad! Try writing something happy!" Which always bothered me, like, why don't YOU try writing a happy song if you want one so badly! But at some point there was a turn in my songwriting, through working with hip-hop producers and getting in the studio with big name artists.
I started writing songs about the new things I was experiencing in life: sexuality, partying with friends, and yes of course, still heartbreak. I hit a turning point where I realized I could still write songs influenced by Amy, Etta, and Adele, while incorporating my other biggest influences, Daft Punk, The Cure, Radiohead, Rihanna. Molding all of the sounds that have inspired me my entire life and finally honing in on "my sound" has been one of the most exciting parts of making this album.
Can we expect more of this style in the future?
I do think that this sound is my "tried and true" and will remain the foundation of my music. But as I am growing and changing, my music will follow. There are days when I think, "My next album will be straight blues. Not one digital drum or synth will be on there. All live studio recordings." And the next day, "Hmmm, maybe the next album will sound like it was made in the '80s with reverbed guitar and barely any harmonies." This back and forthness - I'm sure - will happen for the rest of my life, and I hope to make all the albums I picture.
Besides this excellent new single and video, what else should we be on the lookout for?
Be on the lookout for the entirety of my very first album, The Blue Hour, dropping everywhere June 10. It is full of songs you can cry to, kiss to, scream to, drive to, clean to, text your ex to, and leave everything in the dust and start a brand new life to. My hope is that a tour follows the album release, and then we'll hop right back in the studio and start on album two.
What’s inspiring you right now, outside of music?
Right now, I am feeling really inspired by spring and the rebirth of the earth that happens when it comes. I just moved into a new place, and it's my very first apartment by myself. I have been living with my best friends since 2014, and now we are moving forward with our lives, without each other under the same roof, and all of the change to come for all of us is extremely inspiring as well as scary. The timing of it all happening in spring feels special to me.
I know it specifically said "other than music" in the question, but I feel like I have to also mention that I'm feeling super inspired by vinyl records right now. It's the first time I'm really getting into looking around for them and just enjoying listening to them and it's making me want to write music with more care and focus.
Any tips for female artists that you'd like to share?
To all my female artists I would say, stand firm in your beliefs and what you want for your art, and don't let anyone make you feel like you don't know what you're talking about. Learn the business side of whatever your craft is, and know it as well as you know your art. Although it can be draining, learning that material will be a life saver.
Lastly, if you are able to, have women in your corner and on your team. Although, I am extremely lucky to be working with brilliant talented men who respect and value me, nothing compares to woman to woman understanding. Lastly, be patient and loving to yourself, and always remember what your art really means to you.
Who are your Ones To Watch?
Someone who instantly comes to mind is Max Swan. He is an absolutely brilliant singer, songwriter, composer and musician. What he is doing musically blows me away, and every time I get to witness him perform live I am speechless.