We go behind the scenes with newcomer Ady Suleiman, ahead of his gig at the Old Blue Last, with Leon Bridges.
It’s safe to say we were more than excited to hear that Ady Suleiman would be playing alongside our previous New Noise star, Leon Bridges last week at London’s Old Blue Last. We were even more thrilled to be invited down to the show to hang out with Ady before showtime.
We’ve been championing the young singer / songwriter, originally from Grantham, since we heard the smooth sounds of his track ‘Longing For Your Love’. His laid-back and mature approach to his craft is proof that we can expect colossal things from this gent over the next 12 months. We managed to sit Ady down before he went on-stage to a full room, to grab some quick-fire questions. Enjoy.
Give us an insight into your journey – what was your route into the music industry?
I guess my route into music industry was really doing gigs around Nottingham and Liverpool, and from putting stuff up online. I would put demos up on Soundcloud, and upload videos to Youtube. I think the first thing I put up was in 2013, when I put a few acoustic demos on Soundcloud. At this time I was also playing shows, so I think with the combination of these three things and being active I was able to create a tiny bit of buzz around me, which then a few industry people picked up on.
How do you think that a city like Nottingham has shaped you as a creative?
I actually studied music in Liverpool and did a lot of my development and played some of my first shows there, but when I went to play shows back in Nottingham, maybe because It was my hometown, I got a lot more support from the local media and generally a better reaction there and culturally it was the right fit with my music. When I was coming through there was this incredible soul / hip-hop scene in Nottingham. You had artists like Liam Bailey, Harleighblu, Natalie Duncan, Indiana and of course Jake Bugg had just broken at this point so felt like there was a real buzz around the city.
The city has a fantastic buzz for music – do you have any vivid memories of playing any of the prestigious venues around the city?
The best one for me was when I played Dot to Dot in 2013. I played a venue called Rock City, which is a historic venue in Notts with a large capacity. I’m not a particularly well known artist, and I remember thinking at the time why have they put me on this this stage for the festival, it was an ambitious choice. I remember walking out 5 minutes before I went on and the room was empty. A lot of my family and friends were coming to see me play and I was like – I’m going to be performing to an empty room. Then when I walked out for my set suddenly the place was packed. I couldn’t believe it, I had no idea where everyone came from but it felt amazing. That was a real moment.
What were you listening to as you were growing up – what shaped you, musically?
I listened to a broad range of music growing up, my parents are into good music and my dad is a DJ. When I was really young he would play a lot of African music around the house but I started taking a strong interest in music because of the electric guitar. I played guitar way before i started singing, and I got into really into Jimi Hendrix. He was defiantly the dude for me! The key, the door opener I would say… he trained my ears to appreciate and listen to a wide variety of music. I really got into that 60’s era, then Blues and Jazz, and later on in life came Hip-Hop, Soul, R&B and Reggae. If we are talking purely vocals, I have to give it to Amy Winehouse. She was definitely my strongest vocal inspiration, to see someone break the mainstream having a heavy jazz influence in her voice and music was dope and made me believe that perusing a career in music with the music I wanted to make was possible.
You seem to have collected a bundle of celebrity fans – who would you love to collaborate with on a track?
It would be dope to do something with Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu but if I had to choose one it’s got be Stevie Wonder. From a UK perspective I’m really feeling King Krule, George the Poet and Loyle Carner. I image they would be fun to work with.
If you could have written any other song by another artist, which would would you liked to have claimed?
There’s to many but of the top of my head “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” by D’angelo. Or Pink Floyd’s “Money” and / or ‘Time” would love to have written the whole “Dark Side of the Moon” album to be fair.
Give us an insight into your creative process – how do you begin writing a song? Does it start with a melody or lyrics?
Always music first and lyrics last. I come up with a melody I think is strong or a chord progression, then I think how does this music make me feel and think about the emotion, then I try connect that emotion to a story in my life or topic a feel strongly about and that’s when I start to write lyrics. Then a song starts to form yu just have to try finish it while the ideas are fresh.
You seem effortlessly stylish – how important do you think image is to an emerging artists longevity / career?
Fashion and music go hand in hand, I think for me honestly I just wear what’s comfortable. I can’t stand tight clothes that stick to me so baggy stuff works for me. I would say I’m a casual guy. Obviously if I’m heading for a night out I will make more of an effort, but I wouldn’t say I’m to obsessive over image.
Tell us more about your new track ‘So Lost’?
I believe it has a relatable message within the track, and it almost touches on stuff that people don’t openly talk about with one another that they feel anxious or awkward about discussing. It really touches on how I feel and how I imagine a lot of people in my generation feel, though they may not choose to admit it. It’s quite indulgent song when you listen to it. It actually touches on mental health issues, anxiety and depression and I think there is a lot of chatter around these subjects at the moment. It’s something I feel very strongly about so will definitely touch upon it in my music moving forward.
And the forthcoming EP? How is that shaping up, and what can we expect from it?
The EP is all done now. I would say it’s a positive progression from what people have heard before, I’ve added other instruments and arrangements so people might be surprised if they thought I was just an acoustic artist. I had always planned on having more live instruments in my music just couldn’t afford to at the time ha! I’ve always wanted to adapt and grow the sound, and I would say the E.P Is the next stepping-stone and progression for where I’m going to go eventually. I am working on the album now and that’s another step ahead
Ady’s forthcoming EP will be released on Pemba Records in May.
Connect with Ady here.
Words: Shane Hawkins
Images: Christopher McCrory