“Ashes to ashes / Dust to dust / The guys are fuckboys / Girls are sluts.” That’s one heck of an opening statement. But Suzi Wu, aka 19-year-old Suzie McDermott, is quick to point out these first lines from debut track ‘Teenage Witch’ are “kind of a piss-take to be honest”.
“We use a lot of buzz-words to describe things these days and girls are expected to say a certain kind of thing,” she explains. Well, in just a handful of lines she’s defied convention in one brazenly frank swoop.
Suzi is completely content with the fact that she’s “always been a brash person,” and she’s been channelling some of that energy into music from day one. After performing in choirs during her youth, Suzi went to sixth form for music tech but dropped out when demand wasn’t high enough.
Still determined, she enrolled on to the Roundhouse’s On Track scheme, eventually learning the basics of production. Suddenly, a new world of sound unravelled before her. “I went from making stuff on the guitar that sounded like a tenth of what it sounded like in my head to being able to create stuff with this massive range of instruments,” she explains.
It’s therefore no surprise that debut EP ‘Teenage Witch’ is a spellbinding blend of snapping beats, glassy melodies, poppy synths, lo-fi riffs and so much more. It’s bold and vibrant, but the sounds also come “from a place of raw femininity”. Suzi performs and produces as much as possible by herself. “Half of the point of doing this is for me to keep learning, and as a woman I think that’s very important,” she says.
“Half of the point of doing this is for me to keep learning, and as a woman I think that’s very important."
While Suzi’s music is born from a fierce sense of independence, her messages can also be self-empowering; with ‘Taken Care Of,’ she stresses that “I take care of me".
“Everyone has to come to that realisation at some point,” she says. But it’s a track with a dual meaning, and in the line “we can’t be perfect,” she attests to “the enormous amount of pressure we put on our children”. “I can see it break people and it’s totally unnecessary!”
Helping her peers navigate the stresses of teenage life and asserting that it’s alright not to always be perfect is something she strives towards: “That’s something I was trying to get across in all my songs. For teenagers who feel alienated and feel they’re putting on a mask to be happy, that it’s okay to not be,” she says. “There’s nothing shameful in that.”
She practices what she preaches too, not betraying who she really is and showing her true voice. “You’ve got to make sure you don’t compromise that for anyone, because that’s who you are, you can’t change that.”
Suzi Wu's debut EP 'Teenage Witch' is out now via Lucky Number.
Taken from the September 2017 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe and read online below.