Cool style, Converse and undercuts come to mind when I think of Susie-Blue, a band from Derry, lit up by social politics, rights activism, LGBTQ+ issues plus anthems for misunderstood youth. Their songs drip with attitude, love and loss. Recently returned from Glastonbury’s ‘Bread and Roses’ stage and in the middle of crowdfunding the group’s debut album, Susan Donaghy was on hand to explore the themes of the new record, past releases and influences of Susie-Blue.
►You are currently crowd-funding for your debut album. What resources do you need and are you confident that you will get what you need?
Well we need to record it firstly, then get all the artwork done and order physical copies. All that is just the start. We then we have to do PR for two months and then tour the album. We as musicians are used to running on low resources but we always pull it off at the end.
►Tell us what you are planning for the record, in terms of themes and sounds.
We are recording 10 tracks and possibly 2 bonus acoustic/live tracks – 8 of them are already written. If you’ve seen us live you’ll recognise a few from our set. We are also writing two brand new tracks, one is already finished and ready to record. The themes are the usual stuff I write about – stuff that’s personal to me – so basically about love, loss and issues close to my heart. Every song I write means something to me and is normally filled with the emotions I have at the time.
►The two last releases, ‘People Like Us’ and ‘Be A Lady’ seemed to go-hand in-hand in that they brought up challenging LGBT+ themes. Was that intentional?
I guess it was because of how I felt at the time, I always want to sing about things important to me and hope they resonate with some other people in the process. Those two songs were things I had to write about because of how the world around me is.
►You are playing Rock For Pride this year in Derry, how important is it for you to support and play for this cause?
It’s super important to me, to represent my community at a community organised event. I feel like it’s so important for a diverse artist to be represented and that’s what we tried to do with this gig. I’m on the Foyle Pride committee so I’m involved constantly with the things that are happening but when I get to support it with my music it’s a little more special.
►Can you explain how Northern Ireland and Derry have shaped your songwriting?
I think that going and seeing all the local artists in Derry and Northern Ireland have inspired me constantly, I love local music and think that Northern Ireland is filled with talent. As for shaping my songwriting I think that our political climate and the people of the city who have a problem with LGBTQ+ people have pushed me to write the songs like “Be A Lady” and “People Like Us”. The other side of the population who are open minded and welcoming have made me confident in writing the “love” songs about women and sex.
►You seem very self-reliant, raising the finances to take you to Glastonbury, for example. Do you thrive when faced with challenges?
I think as a musician you have to thrive in those situations, there are very few ways around it. The generosity of our community and fans is unbelievable and we are forever grateful. It’s not as hard when you have people who actually support what you for.
►How did you find your artistic voice as a young teenager?
I sort of just started writing about what I felt and I knew I had a voice that I wanted to share. I grew up listening to strong women who sometimes sang about other women and even that subtle “her” or “she” in a song by a woman can really mean something to a young lesbian or bisexual woman.
►Who are your role models in music, art and politics?
A big role model of mine is Joan Jett, she sings about literally not “giving a damn about her reputation” that meant a lot to me when writing and performing. I also really admire Janis Joplin and Sinead O Connor, their voices are unbelievable and the stuff they sing about is also beautifully worded. I think those three artists cover music, art and politics.
►Can you give us an example of how your music has reached someone in an important way?
There was a time a few years ago a woman contacted me on Facebook and told me my music and me being so open really helped her come out to her family. I met up with her after she’d done it to see how it all went. I haven’t really heard from her since but I’d love to know how she is now, if she’s reading this.
►What can we expect from you in the second half of the year?
We have some cool gigs coming up and it’s hard to get the information out without saturating our Facebook with posts, but we will announce it all very soon, some really exciting announcements coming up so stay tuned to our Facebook.
To support Susie-Blue in funding their album, visit: