Ady Suleiman Turned His Voice Memos into Brilliant Neo-Soul 'Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1' Mixtape [Q&A]

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While some musicians scribble lyrics that appear to be chicken scratch on restaurant napkins, neo-soul crooner Ady Suleiman instead makes use of his phone's trusty Voice Memos feature to brainstorm his song ideas. Half Tanzanian and half English, Suleiman is inspired by a plethora of musical eras, spanning from 60s rock to modern day rap. If soulful melodies are your cup of tea, then the  Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1  mixtape is your invitation to Suleiman's tasty world of custard cream biscuits.

Recorded in Stockholm, Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 showcases Suleiman's innovative spirit as he experiments with more personal lyricism and electric instrumentation. Opening with muffled audio in "You Make It Better," Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 immediately sees Suleiman professing his romantic feelings for someone above the smooth guitar licks. "Been Thru" continues with this genuine honesty as Suleiman assures that he's desperate to learn all about this person's interests, dislikes, habits, and everything else in between. The crushing beat in "Weed Guna" is balanced by Suleiman's raw vocals in "Voice Note 1," a 35-second interlude that draws a stark contrast between the many soundscapes heard in Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1.

"Strange Roses," the leading single of Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1, is a heartfelt love ballad featuring a beautiful piano and light percussion, joined by Suleiman's undeniably charismatic vocals. With endearing lyrics, "Best Friends" is Suleiman's dedication to a special someone as he explains that it doesn't matter what they're doing as long as they're together. "Something To Say" flows with Suleiman's melodic goodness, which is accompanied by rapper Frankie Stew's dynamic verse. Thoughts & Memories Vol. 1 closes with "Outro," an instrumental-driven track layered with Suleiman's neat backing vocals as the mixtape ends with hushed synths.

On Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1, Ady Suleiman reflected,

"'Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1' started because I didn't want to go straight into a full album. I wanted a bit of time to be more creative and more experimental. I wanted to make a project that was a bit more free. We moved from acoustic to electric, the guys put their flavors on, and took it to a better space. I liked putting down the first things I thought of and those usually became the song. I love the vibes and interludes; that's how I started thinking of this project, a vibes project. I wanted to do something that was really free and 'Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1' is the result."

Croon along to Ady Suleiman's exquisite Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 mixtape below:

To celebrate his incredible Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 mixtape, we chatted with Ady Suleiman about the new music, his ongoing UK/EU tour, and his current Ones To Watch.

OTW: How did you first get into music? When did you know that you wanted to pursue music?

Suleiman: When I was 13 is when I really got into music. I fell in love with electric guitar and Jimi Hendrix and the whole 60s culture, really. I didn't start singing 'til a bit later not long after, but I started on guitar because I was too shy to sing. But people around me encouraged me and when I was much older–17 maybe–Amy Winehouse sealed the deal for me. She made me want to sing properly. I started my career as a solo act when I was 19.

OTW: At what point did you decide voice memos on your phone would become Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1?

Suleiman: I mean, that was always the concept, which I have had for a while. I used a couple of voice notes on my first album, Memories (LP 2018), and they worked really well as interludes so I wanted to do more and make an interlude-y, vibey project. And that's how Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 started. So the original idea came when I was making my debut, but I didn't find time to create it 'til afterwards.

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OTW: What's your reasoning behind making Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 a mixtape instead of an album? Why didn't you want to jump into making another full-length album after Memories?

Suleiman: Making a full-length album hurts my head. Like, it's a lot of thought and a long process, and I had just been in one for like three or four years, so I wanted to make something free where I didn't care so much about perfecting and I will continue to make music in this manner. When I came out of my first album, I just wanted to breathe and not jump into another cycle like that. So Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 is my sigh a breath and break project. I am now ready to make a full-length album, but I wouldn't have been without Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1. I really love Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 and how it's ended up and grateful for what it's done for my headspace and creativity.

OTW: In what ways is Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 a "free" project?

Suleiman: It's free because it's not too thought out; it's very lucid and honest in its concepts and the way it's created was free. There were no guidelines. Whatever was created in the time I gave to it is what's on this project. The lyrics are essentially freestyles with a couple of tweaks, obviously, because I'm not Eminem but melodies and everything were very immediate. And concepts… I didn't stew for hours and hours; I let them be free and what it is. It was also quite a collaborative project for me working with lots of different producers and ideas not always starting from me and my guitar.

OTW: Describe Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 in one word.

Suleiman: Chill.

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OTW: "Strange Roses," a celebrated single off the upcoming mixtape, perfectly showcases your stunning vocals and heartwarming honesty in your lyricism. Can you explain what this song means to you?

Suleiman: I mean, yeah. What can I say? It really describes a very specific part in my life and relationship. And not a moment I am fond of–to be honest. But it also shows and represents a different side of my artist self. It's a lot more organic and live. And really that's the shit I love and how I started with live music and instruments so it's special to me in that way because sonically it presents something different for me.

OTW: Do you have a favorite track on Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1? Which track was the most difficult to write?

Suleiman: "Best Friend" was probably the hardest but the easiest. Like, I don't know if I got it right but hey, this is Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1. Let it be what it is at that time, but lyrically I could've done more. But I just didn't want to. Maybe a later day, I will do something. Production-wise, "Been Thru" was the most difficult to finesse and still, [there are] things I would change. But again, sometimes perfecting isn't a true reflection of your art and this is Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1. So I left these songs and I love them for what they are.

OTW: What was it like working with Rosie Matheson on the Thoughts & Moments Vol. 1 artwork?

Suleiman: She is such a dear friend of mine. Like family, really, so it was a pleasure and she really helped bring the campaign aesthetic together. But yeah, it was easy. Doesn't feel like work. We just chatted like normal and shit got done. It was maybe more work for her, haha. Easy and stress-free for me. She is an amazing superstar in the making.

OTW: How's your tour around the UK/EU going? Can you share any memorable show experiences with us?

Suleiman: It's going really well. I think the best performances we have done. The rooms are always filled with so much love. My audiences are amazing people... Very chill on a loved up vibe so it's a pleasure. Memorable experiences? Hmmm... I mean, it's not a good one, but my bassist went to the toilet mid-set and I didn't realize. I was like, "Wait. Where the hell has all the bass gone?" Turned around [and] he wasn't there. I thought he maybe pulled a whitey or something but he just forgot to go to the toilet at the time. I was pissed (no pun intended), but we look back and laugh now. You gotta go when you gotta go. He had been the butt of a lot of jokes though. Now because of it, we have to make sure he has gone to the toilet before we go on.

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OTW: Who are your current Ones To Watch?

Suleiman: Mahalia. I smile so much when I think of her come up. Really proud of the artist she is becoming and the music she is making. I've known her for a minute. Kofi Stone is another. He's going to do great things and make some incredible music. Look out for him. Mathilda Homer - she supported me on this tour and she is a babe. Really nice vibe, beautiful tone to her voice. Also James Vickery, Sam Tompkins, and Tiana Major9. There are very talented people coming through and it's great! Excited for music and music fans. Loads more I haven't mentioned, but I'll let you discover them. That's part of the fun, isn't it?

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