Sug Daniels for The Meadow
interviewer: Sara Sharif (@sarangelic)
interviewee: Sug Daniels (@sugdaniels_)
Sug Daniels is a singer, songwriter, and producer who is using the tools around her to capture the emotions of an era. Daniels’ work is as colorful, vulnerable, and charismatic as her personality. She thoughtfully combines elements of folk, R&B, and low-fi alternatives to create personal and tender music interlaced with messages of truth and positive change.
Growing up in the rural town of Smyrna, Delaware, Sug had felt first-hand both the extreme joy and the major isolation that many LGBTQ+ people experience in Southern Baptist-style churches. After coming out, she left the church but continued her journey armed with the love of powerful music and celebration of community.
What do you consider the perfect moment?
"Great question. I’ve actually been thinking about this lately because I've been blessed to be having so many lately. A perfect moment to me is when you have the deep feeling inside where you feel like you're exactly where you're supposed to be, with who you're supposed to be with, and doing something you love. The real trick is to be able to recognize it while it’s happening and appreciate it before it’s gone. Learning to be in the moment can be hard as an adult but it’s a skill worth sharpening!"
* in relevance to our issue #5 MOMENT
t h e i n t e r v i e w
1. Please start with a little introduction about yourself!
Hey Friends! My name is Sug Daniels and I’m a queer singer-songwriter and producer based out of Delaware. I like making music, thinking deep thoughts, trying new things, and being queer:)
2. What genre would you say your music belongs to?
I think my genre belongs in the alternative singer-songwriter folk section of the record store but I pull from so many different genres it can probably sneak into a couple of others including RnB, rock, low-fi, and more.
3. What is the story behind your musical journey?
I’ve been writing songs since I was a little girl. I grew up in church and was always singing in Sunday school and putting on little performances for my family. I didn’t know it was a “weird” thing to do. As I got older I naturally started to tell my stories and how I was feeling in my little songs. I didn’t really get into performing them outside of church until high school but after my first taste of original music and the feedback I got, I was hooked for life.
4. And how has your journey been so far?
My journey has had its ups and downs but that’s the way life goes. I’ve never had an “end game”. I love moving in this life as an artist and I will let it take me where it takes me and try my best to be a good person and learn all the lessons I can along the way.
5. I am in love with your latest single, “Kintsugi”. Tell us what “Kintsugi” means to you and what your aim was during the making.
Haha, thank you! So glad you enjoyed it. The word Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with liquid gold, in turn making it stronger and more valuable than before it was broken. That’s really how I view this country (United States of America) and how we can work together to make it better than we ever dreamed. The liquid gold represents the beautiful under-represented humans in this country. I genuinely believe people are good and if we take the time to listen and learn from each other there are no limits to what we can accomplish.
6. How was the process of the making of the song?
I purposely wanted to write something that reflected what was happening in the country. With social media being such a vital part of our day to day it’s easier now more than ever to hear from people from all walks of life. The general narrative at the time I wrote the song and even still seems to be screaming to give the mic to the people of color, to the natives, to the “others” so we can even the playing field and see how we can help each other.
7. What is your creative process?
My creative process is like that saying “coming in hot”! Sometimes I’ll have an idea or melody and it all comes rushing out at once. I’ve pulled over on the side of the road to make voice memos and notes in my phone and I feel very restless until I can get my hands on a bass guitar or my ukulele and mess around. I’ve felt like I’ve always had more ideas than time to bring them all to life. I am excited to be performing this music in front of people because every show and iteration of players makes the songs different and I get bored very easily, ha!
8. Who is your musical inspiration?
First and foremost my mother was an amazing singer and really inspired me as a kid. She would sing in church and I always admired how strong and bold she was on stage. She demanded your ears and eyes and people gave them willingly.
I of course have to pay homage to some of the artists who inspired me as a kid like Lauryn Hill, The Jackson Five, and Jimi Hendrix. Lately, I’ve been so enchanted with artists like Orion Sun, Arlo Parks, and Jacob Collier. I love artists who push me to be not just a good performer but also challenge my boundaries on creativity.
9. Any tips for our musicians out here?
Ha, I don’t know if I’m qualified to give any tips but I think looking back at my career as a musician the more vulnerable and honest I was in my writing and how I presented myself, the more genuine connections I made in music and life long fans.
Also, don’t be so serious all the time. This industry can get ugly so if you don’t allow yourself to have fun, be silly, and make mistakes it’s going to get dark quickly. You don’t want to burn yourself out because this is a long-term game and pacing yourself is key for any kind of success.
10. So, what should we expect next, in the near future?
I have my debut solo Ep titled Franklin Street coming out via Weird Sister Records on September 3rd! I am always playing shows around Philadelphia, Delaware, and New York so please be sure to follow online because my shows are always fun and I’m not just saying that:)
11. How do we gain access to your music?
You can find my solo project stuff under the name Sug Daniels on any streaming platform.