Singer, songwriter and producer Sudie Abernathy is evolving as an artist. She has been performing since the age of four, but admits that she is still learning to perform as her best self, times a million.
As we sit at Houndstooth Coffee in Dallas, Sudie shares with us an intimate look at what’s in store and how she’s just now unveiling her truest and most reflective work to date.
Can you tell us about your new sound?
It’s hard to talk about right now because it’s not completed yet; I’ve got one more song to do. And then it will be done and we’ll go into the mixing and mastering part of it, and putting together the whole concept. It’s different for me because this last EP was kind of a collection of songs, things that I had written, things I had done, right when I just started music. When I had first started producing. Some of the songs I had written before I produced them, even years before. So the first EP we put out was kind of just—here’s a collection of stuff that I’ve done. It kind of felt all over the place.
It [was in college] when I was cut off from my parents because they were living overseas at the time, since I went to high school in Dubai. So I was by myself at this coming of age, so this first one was just catching everyone up on what has happened in the past six years. So it was like, “Hey everybody, here you go. Here’s the past six years of me trying to figure out who I am, but this is the truest possible way I can let you know what’s up with me.” And I was all over the place. I was in love and then I hated the guy, and then we got back together, and I was in school, and I was depressed because I was studying opera and I wanted to do something else, and then I started working with other people and then they let me down, then I had to figure out how to do my own shit, so that’s when I started producing. So all the stuff in one little thing. And I was discovering so much music.
What helped you in feeling like you were being super reflective of yourself?
A lot of the subject matter, especially in this one, is kind of me realizing that sometimes I’m not really true to who I am. Which happens. That’s one of the really big themes in this upcoming EP.
How is it a reflection of you in real life? How do you make work that reflects you the most?
It’s almost like tattle taling on yourself. I don’t know how else to explain it. If I think that I’m a liar I will say that in my songs. Which I actually do. Sometimes I will you know, lie to myself and I lie to other people about who I am. Maybe I don’t know yet. Which I don’t really. It’s like a tattle tale on yourself to the world. Because being an artist, putting your work out there is very hard to do. It’s very hard to let people in.
“Sometimes I will, you know, lie to myself and I lie to other people about who I am. Maybe I don’t know yet. Which I don’t really. It’s like a tattle tale on yourself to the world. Because being an artist, putting your work out there is very hard to do. It’s very hard to let people in.”
This might be different now, but what is your songwriting process?
It’s honestly so different every time, all the time. Usually it will be inspired by something that’s happening. Or even sometimes I’m inspired by the fact that I’ve been a lazy ass and I’m like, ”Fuck, I need to do something.” So I’ll just sit at the piano lounge and I’ll be like ding ding ding[laughs]. And then sometimes, like for “Heart Attack,” I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote the lyrics, and then the next morning I got a call about my grandfather having a heart attack. Then I went to the piano and wrote the chords for it. I wrote the melody and then wrote the chords later. It was a year-and-a-half later when I produced it.
This new one is just me more mature. Figuring it out. In a way that’s not so frantic. More digestible. Because I know my way around a little bit better. I’m being more honest with myself.
“I like having that power [over my music]. Which is why I started producing everything by myself in the first place. It’s all very connected to who I am as an artist. Me as an artist and me as a person is pretty much the same damn thing.”
I like having that power [over my music]. Which is why I started producing everything by myself in the first place. It’s all very connected to who I am as an artist. Me as an artist and me as a person is pretty much the same damn thing.
You’ve been performing since you were really young haven’t you?
I started performing around five. Because that’s around when I started taking vocal lessons and we would put on shows at my studio. I’ve always been comfortable performing. But performing my own stuff? That was nerve-racking. I was so nervous, I almost threw up. I’ve almost thrown up more than half the times I’ve performed. I still get those nerves. A lot of the people I’m performing in front of have never heard my stuff, so instead of singing a song that everybody knows and singing it well, it’s like they don’t know what it is at all. I have to sing perfect, plus a million, all the time. I can’t just sing, but I gotta perform very well. I’ve gotta put on a fucking show. And it’s only going to get crazier down to the road. I wanna add so much shit.
Do you have an advice for—
Young artists trying to get started? [laughs] I mean that’s me. Even now, I’m like, ‘Damn. That show didn’t go that well; maybe I should just quit.’ But I don’t quit.
“Even now, I’m like, ‘Damn. That show didn’t go that well; maybe I should just quit.’ But I don’t quit.”
What keeps you from stopping?
Well, what else would I do? I love doing this. I just want to make music that gets people through hard times.