Exclusive Interview with EDM Vocalist Susana
Netherlands native, Susana Lise started in the electronic music scene back in 2003 with her single, “Dark Side of the Moon” with Ernesto vs Bastian. Coming a long way from her first single, the Armada Music vocalist became recognizable for her collaboration with trance legend Armin van Buuren, “Shivers“. Since that breakthrough song that put shivers up our spine, Susana has collaborated with van Buuren on two consecutive Armin Only tours (Imagine & Mirage) with songs including “Nothing at All” and “Closer“. Read on as EDMinsider gets ‘Closer‘ to Susana in this exclusive interview, learning about the latest in store for the upcoming months!
EDMinsider 1. What are some of your earliest memories of music? When was it you first discovered Electronic Dance Music (EDM)? Were you already working as a singer/songwriter at that time?
Susana: Music has been an important part of my life ever since I was a little girl. I think that even before I knew how to speak properly music was my outlet, my way of communicating so to speak. According to my parents I was only 3 years old when I first made up a song; my brother was just born and I expressed my happiness about that through singing about it. I would listen to my dad’s records and teach myself how to sing my mimicking the singers. When I was older I started buying CD’s myself and I spent a lot of time daydreaming with my headphones on or playing the music out loud in my room, something I still do to this day! When I was a teenager I joined a pop/rock band, we wrote our own music and my main focus was on the lyrics. I discovered EDM relatively late though. A neighbor of my family saw me perform with my band at one time and was impressed by my voice. He happened to know two EDM vocal producers and introduced me to them when I was 19. When I first came to their studio I wasn’t really familiar with EDM, besides maybe those tracks that crossed over to commercial radio and television. My first trance collaboration followed soon after this initial introduction, I think that was in 2003, and I felt like a whole new musical world opened up to me.
EDMinsider 2. Have you had any professional vocal training in the past? Do you know how to play any musical instruments? Do you know how to DJ?
Susana: No, I don’t play any instruments. Unfortunately I would say! Especially now that I’m writing more and more I sometimes feel like it could be useful to play an instrument. I do know a little bit how to DJ though. I took a few lessons out of curiosity and to be able to understand the ‘language’ so to speak of DJs, after all I work with them on a regular basis! I’ve learned how to beatmatch and mix a little bit and I enjoyed it a lot, so I got to understand the magic of it, but I wouldn’t dare to stand in front of a crowd and play! As for vocal training, I started taking lessons with a professional vocal coach – Kirsten Schotteldreier – when I was 15 years old and after all those years we still work together. Some people question the use of vocal training, but I really believe in it. It has helped me discover dimensions of my voice I didn’t know I possessed – Kirsten taught me classical techniques for example, which eventually resulted in me doing a classical inspired Desiderium 207 with Armin van Buuren. Besides that vocaltraining has helped me understand my instrument; it’s not just about the vocal chords, it’s about your whole body and state of mind. I also see it as a way to keep my voice healthy and in shape. Just like athletes train to maintain and develop their muscles, strength and stamina I believe a singer needs regular training as well.
EDMinsider 3. When would you say you had you first “big break” in the EDM scene?
Susana: Actually my first trance collaboration, Dark Side of the Moon with Ernesto vs Bastian, was already quite a hit in the scene, played by some of the biggest DJs at that time, amongst which Armin van Buuren. But because I was so new to the whole EDM world it’s success kind of passed me by to be honest. The awareness of that came later. However, the next collaboration I did was Shivers with Armin van Buuren. Not only was this a huge track with commercial success as well, but by the time of its release I was also more involved myself in the scene so I was much more aware of its impact. It may be obvious that Shivers was my big break. It’s still one of my most successful collabs I have done since the beginning of my vocalist career.
EDMinsider 4 In 2005, you recorded a track with Armin van Buuren for his album “Shivers” of the same name. What are a few things you can tell your fans about this song which came rather early in your career?
Susana: As I explained before, Shivers signifies my big break as a trance vocalist and I have performed it all over the world with the Armin Only shows. It’s one of those songs that crowds sing along to because they know each and every word. Shivers is a true break up song, I think that’s why so many people can relate to the lyrics.
EDMinsider 5. Being able to travel, visit different cities and countries and meet a diverse group of people; which cities or countries would you say you like visiting most and why?
Susana: This is always such a difficult question! Let me start by saying that besides becoming a singer I always dreamt of exploring the world, visiting foreign countries, discovering other cultures etc. And I am so fortunate that I get to combine these two passions now. Some of my favorite places to go are Latin America, Jordan and Lebanon and I’ve experienced some of the most energetic trance parties in countries like Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Unbelievable!
EDMinsider 6. You later went on the travel with Armin Van Buuren along with several other performers for his tour “Armin Only”. What have been some of your fondest memories from the tour? Which shows to you have been most memorable to you and why?
Susana: I have been part of two consecutive Armin Only tours, both the Imagine tour as the Mirage tour and whenever I think of those experiences so many images and memories come to mind! What made these tours such memorable experiences is travelling the world and working on a DJ-show of never before seen proportions with such a colorful group of professional, creative and fun-loving people. As I mentioned before shows in countries like Russia, Ukraine and Poland are amongst my favorites. The energy of the crowds there is unbelievable!
EDMinsider 7. What are a few things you can tell us about the making of your debut album “Closer”? You worked alongside several DJs/Producers upon creating the album, how was the experience different between the artists?
Susana: Closer has the format of a compilation album, each track being produced by a different DJ/producer but surrounding one vocalist. It includes some of my older tracks like If You Should Go with Armin van Buuren and Nothing at All with Rex Mundi but for the rest of the songs we got producers on board to create instrumentals especially for my album. When I held the CD in my hand for the first time I felt so proud! Especially because I was, at that time, one of the few vocalists with her own album. So I also saw it as a confirmation of the growing popularity of vocalists as EDM artists and also hoped it would contribute to deepening this development. After all, since long, the scene has mainly been the territory of (male) DJ and producers. So I am glad to witness this development and to be a part of it! The first single – Closer with Omnia and the Blizzard did very well, for example it was voted #6 in the A State of Trance Track of the Year 2010 Poll. I wrote Closer about what music means to me, how it is my daily stimulus and my outlet, how its emotional energy has the ability to uncover underlying emotions and therefore bring me closer to myself…
EDMinsider 8. “Closer: The Remixes” has also been released following the album release. What are some works to follow for you? What can fans expect from Susana next?
A few months ago the cover I did of Coast2Coast’s Home was released. It was featured on Armin van Buuren’s Universal Religion and has done very well! I think it shows a different side of my voice than what people are used to hearing from me. In the meanwhile I have also been working on my sophomore album! Initially it seemed like it would be ready for release past fall, but eventually we decided to take some more time for this one and I think it has really benefitted the end result. I am very excited for its release, which will take place in May 2012! I obviously can’t give away too many details but it will feature collaborations with the likes of Shogun, Beat Service, Max Graham, Rex Mundi and many more! So keep an eye out for it!
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