Today we’d like to introduce you to Surrija.
Surrija, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born and raised in HK. My mom is a Chinese calligrapher and painter, who I think my artistic tendencies come from. I was a classically trained pianist and loved my radio. Hitting the sleep mode was one of my favorite nightly rituals. I ended up getting a music degree, but the way there was very rough on family relationships. My dad and I had a falling out and didn’t speak for close to a decade. He stayed in HK after we immigrated, and I’m starting to think that the distance hurt him far more and me, it made him more controlling than he would’ve been if he saw me grow up. Emotionally, it was a mess. Before he died, my anger was focused on him in HK. After he died, he was everywhere. This was around the time I released my third album. I really wasn’t a pleasant person to be around, big shifts were happening inside and I decided to take a break from music.I know I’m still working through grief and blurry shades of my relationship with him. Half of this album is about that. The other half are songs written to six Picasso’s paintings of his women, from their point of view. These songs highlight his cruel and abusive tendencies while being the genius that remains in public spotlight. These women’s stories belong in museums too. As a whole, this album is a rebirth; my way of dismantling oppression and reconciling with my past through the eyes of these women.I began writing this album in 2016, and have spent the past three years refining. I’m very lucky to have found a fantastic team and bring this to life. It was funded on Kickstarter and I just sent it to the printers this week!We’d love to hear more about your art.
Congrats on the Kickstarter success! Tell us a bit more about your work and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Making Music is the only thing that gets me to a high that feels like drugs. A snare sound. Spending two days building a snare for one song isn’t unheard of, but I sure love making the granular details. I love the sculpting quality and love how care is audible.This new music has been a project of discovery. I confront a lot of my demons, or at least tried to give myself more agency via these women. I didn’t know this was the theme when I started writing. While Picasso’s hand in modern art is real, I fell in love with these women and the strength they had in order to put up with his jealousy, temper, and abuse.I’m very lucky to have found such fantastic collaborators, a group of the songs were co-written with my friend Albert Chiang, while the record was produced by Sophocles Papavasilopoulos, Maxwell Gualtieri, and myself. I wanted to relinquished control and ego – went into the studio wanting and expecting material to be destroyed and reconstructed. I guess it’s how we brew new life in all things, including ourselves.
I want listeners to pay attention to his muses rather than to him.
To hear the textures of the paintings when they hear the songs.
I want to continue my own recovery.
I hope it contributes to the current of demystifying patriarchy.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
Attention of audience and attention paid to our own work.
Feeling like we are creating against a growing attention deficit.
This is a new struggle with the rise of scroll-life. We are all in it and I have to keep reminding myself to slow down and do the deep work that I deserve. The people who connect with our pace and process will be the ones to stay for the long haul.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The album is self-titled – Surrija.
Still deciding on release timeline, but it’ll be early 2020.It’s a different sound from my prior work and feels like I finally found my language.
My previous work is on Spotify, Youtube, etc. But rather than making it about me, I want to meet makers in other mediums, ie film/tv or visual art and support each other. I’d love to collaborate across mediums.
- Website: surrija.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/surrija
- Facebook: instagram.com/janeluimusic
- Twitter: instagram.com/janelui