We get the lowdown on the current whereabouts of Australia’s past Red Bull Music Academy participants. Up this fortnight is Becky Sui Zhen Freeman, aka Sui Zhen.
At the Academy, you become a pure musical vessel - Sui Zhen
Becky Sui Zhen Freeman aka Sui Zhen – it’s my Chinese name pronounced ‘Sue-ee-chen’.
Vocals/lyrics/songs and composition/multi-instrumentalist.
Which session of RBMA did you attend?
What expectations did you have before participating in the Academy and how did that compare to the reality of actually participating?
I tried to plan for the life-changing experience I was told it would be. But nothing could prepare me for the reality of being there, meeting those wonderful people, living – albeit temporarily – with no other purpose or care than to make music. They remove all other pressures, worries and obstacles that can easily interfere with your creative output in your day-to-day life. At the Academy, you become a pure musical vessel. You write, you perform, you fall in love, you stay up late, you don’t sleep, you jam, you collaborate – it’s what you think it is. It’s a musical utopia. And then you spend the rest of your life keeping that inspiration alive and you have these new friends to help you to do so.
Is there a particular moment or event that stands out for you from your RBMA experience, and why?
Oh there are so many, so this is hard… about halfway into the term, there was a big party at ICA, London. It was the first time I’d seen James Pants live and it was incredible. Teri Gender Bender and I lost our shit on the dancefloor – a mess of flying limbs and hair. If you’ve seen her live (Le Butcherettes), you’ll know what I mean. Teri really helped me to let my inner beast loose, and I’ve been keeping it at the ready ever since.
Which fellow participants stood out to you as obviously destined for bigger things, and have they actually gone on to great success since?
Teri Gender Bender without a doubt. She is a bigger thing. She’s Mars. She’s that other life force. RBMA found it people! To me great success is to see those people creating, keeping art strong in their lifestyle and enjoying it, at whatever scale. Most of the participants I keep in touch with have definitely achieved that.
What influence did attending the Academy have on your musical endeavours since?
My whole approach to music has relaxed. I’m in less of a rush and I’ve grown more confident to keep doing what I’m doing. I wrote compulsively in some post-Academy-flurry and have refined my process so that even at the demo phase, I am producing music I could release – when I used to hold off on demoing if I couldn’t access my proper equipment.
Now I’m just keen to keep working hard at the things that will allow me to make music and art. I don’t doubt myself anymore. I know there are a whole lot of artists like me creating their own paths that work for them, for their families, their jobs. And that was the most important lesson for me – to stop comparing yourself, to stick with your own path and to make it enjoyable.
What projects do you currently have on the boil?
My Two Seas LP was released to the world on May 4, and the Taboo EP in collaboration with fellow RBMA 2010 alumni Andras Fox as Fox + Sui is out June 19. And InFrame.tv, a web channel I produce content for, also launched in May 2012.
Check out Sui Zhen’s music @ http://soundcloud.com/sui-zhen, and Fox + Sui @ http://soundcloud.com/foxandsui. Sui Zhen tours Australia in May-June 2012 to launch Two Seas – go to Tumblr for dates.