Life Goes On For Suzie Stapleton

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Suzie Stapleton doesn’t fuck around. Her new release, 5-Track EP ‘Obladi Diablo’ has a Dirty Three and Nick Cave-like gritty Aussie folk quality to it; it breathes and broods and seethes and lives.

We caught up with Suzie ahead of a national tour to talk about the EP and effects pedals.

Milk Bar: You have an amazingly powerful voice. When did you first begin singing?

Suzie Stapleton: I’ve always sung in some way though I didn’t start gigging until five years ago. I started learning guitar when I was 14 but gave that up after a couple of years as I got into dance music and parties and DJing for some time. Once the substances wore off the dance music wasn’t really doing it for me anymore and I had an overwhelming urge to create music again – not just mix records.

I tried forming bands, always just on vocal duties, but after that didn’t work out I began to work on solo stuff and picked up the guitar again. I started gigging solo in 2007 and this band evolved from there.

MB: You’ve said the concept of your new EP ‘Obladi Diablo’ roughly translates as ‘pop is evil’. Could you tell us a bit more about the concept?

SS: The title is a light-hearted dig at the horrendous music that gets played on commercial radio.  Don’t get me wrong – I can appreciate good pop music, say, Prince – but Katy Perry and Bruno Mars just don’t cut it. Plus I’m not really a Beatles fan – give or take a couple of songs their music irritates me. Perhaps I’m not being fair – Ob-la-di Ob-la-da is particularly bad – even John Lennon allegedly called it “Paul’s granny shit”.

In terms of how the title relates to the EP (apart from the devil popping up a lot in ‘Song of The Artesian Water’), I’d like to think out music is the opposite of Bruno Mars and Katy Perry.

MB: How did you record the EP and who was involved?

SS: We recorded the EP over three days at Hothouse in St Kilda. Craig Williamson (drums) and Leif van den Dungen (bass) are fantastic and have been playing live with me since May last year so it was smooth sailing.

Jez Giddings engineered at Hothouse studio – he was a pleasure to work with, we were on the same page and everything just flowed. I’d actually recorded ‘Song of The Artesian Water’ in my bedroom at the end of 2011.  That song came about as part of a Fringe Festival show I’d been invited to take part in where six songwriters interpreted Banjo Paterson’s poems.

MB: There are a bunch of effects pedals in the image on your home page. What are some of your favourite pedals and what’s your preferred guitar?

SS: I’m fairly obsessed with reverse delay at the moment – it started with a few songs and now some nights most of the set cops it. I use a Boss Digital Delay DD-6. I also love my Little Big Muff pedal – we have a lot of fun together – though I used a Swollen Pickle at Hothouse for extra fuzz. I have a loop pedal as well which I use a lot if I’m playing solo – it opens up a lot of options and keeps things interesting.

MB: What currently influences you as a musician, musical or otherwise?

SS: Musically I’m all over the place at the moment – with everything digital now I often jump from song to song rather than listening to albums. I might listen to The Black Heart Procession, then Bonnie “Prince” Billy, then Future of The Left.  Though I have been on Pixies rampage recently, which has involved full albums – I’m a little late, I know.

Other than that this last year has been such a whirlwind I haven’t had time to reflect.  I’ve had the full spectrum – deaths, break ups, several house moves, then European Tour, new EP, Australian tour – I don’t know.  I guess it all moves you this way or that, and you suck it in and spit it out and keep on going through the good and the bad.

So, life. All of it. That’s what influences me.

‘Obladi Diablo’ is out now via Bandcamp.

Suzie Stapleton embarks on a national tour this Friday, finishing in Melbourne at the newly refurbished Public Bar on 17 November, followed by and a stripped back set at Pure Pop on the Nov 23.

Photo by Liz Reed.

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