If You Haven’t Heard 19-Year Old Suzi Wu, Then You Need to Hear Her Debut EP
'Teenage Witch' sounds exactly like how London feels.
Image courtesy of PR
"A woman with powers is scary to some," says Suzi Wu, a long leather coat hanging off her shoulders like a cape as she sits across me in an east London restaurant. We're speaking about witches, what they've stood for throughout history and how her generation have in some ways reclaimed the term. "I've always been very interested in witches," Suzi continues, "ranging from old wiccan pagan practices to people in pop culture like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Witches have always been women who were outliers in society… so I think it's a way for a woman to get in touch with the power inside herself and people can't take that away," she pauses for a second. "Sure, they can burn her at the stake… but she's still a witch."
We've landed on the topic for obvious reasons: her debut EP, which we're premiering below, is called Teenage Witch. A lot of music drops into our inboxes each day, and filters through the world at large, but Suzi Wu made me pay attention. Mainly because it's exactly the kind of thing I'd choose to stick on at home – which I did, later that night, out my tinny laptop speakers as I sat and stared out the window at the streets below. Her music really reminds me of growing up in North London; of smoking rollies in the gardens of kids with parents much richer than mine, of walking around at night beneath a sky the colour of smoggy burnt orange, of the subtle celebration of difference that pervades everything people do.
As with a lot of music that young people are making right now, her sound is hard to pin down. She's got a slight cockney drawl to her voice, which gives her the same wry, unimpressed delivery as King Krule, who in turn also sounds like Joe Strummer. Her DIY production is sparse and choppy, with smatterings of hip-hop; the result of Suzi staying up all night wired on energy drinks in her bedroom, soaking up the likes of J Dilla, Flying Lotus and Tyler, the Creator. Her lyrics are full of charisma, and will resonate with anyone who's ever been young and directionless in the city. "They tell me this is bliss, is that what it really is?" she asks in the title track. "I'm too scared to live, too stoned to die / green in the skin of the teenage witch, in a drive through life."
She wrote all tracks on the release, apart from a cover of Tom Waits' "Jockey Full of Bourbon" which she sneaks in the middle. Mind you, if it weren't for the name, you might not even realise it's a cover because she's given it a new life completely. "Yeah, it's got some really simple Detroit chords in it and that weird drum beat," she says, finishing off the dregs of the berry smoothie she'd ordered moments before. "I was trying to write a grime song but then I started singing that song over it. I always wanted to cover Tom Waits because I've never seen anyone do it right. A lot of people try and do it like him, but you can't do him, you can't be Tom Waits. So I was like, I'm just going to make this weird and staccato and do something different. So that's how it came about."
From where I'm stood, I wouldn't be surprised if the longer Suzi Wu's music is out, the further her sound will spread. As I said earlier, new music comes at you from all angles, every single day, but it's not quite as common to hear something that piques your interest in a really genuine way. I ask what her next creative movements will be. "I'm going to release another EP, but my main aim in life is to create an incredible album, even though it's a lot of pressure," she tells me. "I also really want to get a live show together that will freak people out. I want to play stuff with my mates and get it to the point where it's going to blow people away. I'm just going to really go for it."
Listen to the Teenage Witch EP above.
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