Pennsylvania's (now residing in Florida) P.SUS has been producing a variety of electronica for years now and has continued to modify and evolve his craft. Surrounded by music in suburban Pittsburgh at a young age, P.SUS was able to experiment with music technology and begin to test the waters with some early productions. I've been following him for quite some time now and it has been interesting to see his style shift from chill, hip-hop inspired electronica, into more Asiatic 8 and 16 Bit stylings.
His most recent release "Futari" (which translates to together) was completed and then turned into a tribute for his late grandfather. The album most certainly displays his range as a producer and keeps things interesting in his ever growing catalogue.
In this interview, I had the opportunity to learn about his inspirations, why he decided to change up his style a bit, and about the latest release.
Prox: Where are you from? How did this atmosphere stimulate your creative potential?
P.SUS: I grew up in Aspinwall, a neighborhood just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along the Allegheny river. My environment at home was especially musically nurturing with my Dad being a professional Jazz guitarist and my Mom being a casual musician and singer. The town of Aspinwall was a lovely place to be a kid in, and it just so happened that my Dad’s friend (who was also a Jazz musician and recording engineer) moved to a house down the street from me with his son. I quickly became close friends with his son and we were about the same age, so we learned about music together as we grew up. Their house became a recording studio, so we were able to experiment with recording music starting at a very young age. Pittsburgh has a history of Jazz, and my Dad took me to many of his gigs and different concerts, and overall it was a really positive environment to grow up in. But, I think meeting another kid that's into music as much as me that early on had a really big impact.
Prox: What were your musical tastes like growing up? Who were some artists that you enjoyed?
P.SUS: I pretty much only listened to Jazz, Jimi Hendrix, and whatever else my Dad would play for me when I was young. I have really early memories of listening to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. I was exposed to Latin Jazz and World music a lot as well through artists like Chick Corea, Airto Moreira, Poncho Sanchez, Mickey Hart’s “Planet Drum”… etc. I discovered more as I got older by going through my Dad’s collection. I also was exposed to a lot of different Jazz including hearing Sun Ra’s music at a very young age by my friends I mentioned in the last answer. I didn’t really like or discover Hip Hop or Electronic music until I was in High School. A Tribe Called Quest was the first Hip Hop I liked. I also was in love with many video game soundtracks growing up, I played a lot of N64, Gamecube, and Playstation.
Prox: How did you get into production? Do you remember a particular song or album that motivated you to create your own productions?
P.SUS: When I was young I was recording little songs on my keyboard at home, and on one of my Dad’s old computer programs called “Power Tracks”. So making music on the computer wasn’t really a foreign concept to me, but I wasn’t doing electronic music, just trying to imitate “real” instruments. The first Electronic music group I heard that inspired me was Thievery Corporation when I was in 9th grade. I eventually discovered how to use Garageband and then took some music technology classes in high school where I learned a program called Reason (which I still use today).
I discovered a lot of Hip Hop music and Daft Punk towards the end of high school, which introduced me to sampling. I didn’t really get serious about music production until after high school, though. It was all a side hobby of mine because I was really serious about becoming a Jazz pianist up until then. I met a few friends online (on Myspace music) that really exposed me to a lot more electronic music that started to shift my interest more and more.
Prox: I discovered your work years ago by way of the track “Midori - Nujabes Tribute” from your first album, Daydream. Could you describe the impact he had your productions?
P.SUS: The funny thing about that track title is I didn’t even intend it to be a Nujabes tribute at all. That was around the time when he passed away so the label was trying to capitalize on all of the tributes coming out. Kinda despicable really looking back, and I wasn’t happy about it at the time either. I stopped business with them eventually, I appreciate the opportunity they gave me but I don’t really agree with some of the things they do. But despite all that, I was listening to a lot of Japanese Hip Hop at the time, and I was listening to a good bit of Nujabes, but he wasn’t even necessarily my favorite back then. I think I’ve grown to appreciate his music a little more over time. I was more into Tsutchie, Michita, Soul Scream, DJ Muro, and DJ Mitsu the Beats in terms of Japanese Hip Hop.
Prox: Your sound seems to have taken on a more 8-Bit feel since I initially heard your stuff back in the day. What was the cause of the shift in your stylistic approach?
P.SUS: I just tend to experiment, explore, and listen to new things that inspire me. I get bored doing the same style too much. I hope that my personal identity is still able to be detected in my music no matter what sounds I experiment with. It’s something I’m kind of self conscious about to be honest. People often seem to like artists who stick to what they’re known best for. But I’d rather just go with what I’m feeling.
Prox: I noticed some video game samples in your work. Are you still a gamer? Do you select these samples to illicit a feeling of nostalgia in the listeners?
P.SUS: I definitely still play a lot of video games and I am a huge lover of Nintendo in particular. I’ve been inspired by a lot of late 90s and early 2000s Nintendo music especially by composers Kazumi Totaka, Kenta Nagata, Toru Minegishi, and Shinobu Tanaka. I think using old video game sounds is more about expressing my personal nostalgia than getting others to feel nostalgic. I feel like it is a little more genuine that way. I also feel that even though those sounds are nostalgic for me, I think they are genuinely interesting and timeless sounds.
Prox: Your latest release “Futari” was done as a tribute to your late grandfather. How was the creative process different for this release as opposed to other ones? In what ways do you think this release preserves his memory?
P.SUS: My grandfather passed away right after I finished all of the songs for the album. He was a wonderful professional photographer so I thought it would be fitting to use a photo of his for the album cover. It was a photo I remember seeing a long time ago and thinking “That would make a cool album cover!” It was a good opportunity to search through his body of work to find the photo I was looking for. I feel like I experienced the memories even though most of the photos were taken before I was born. Photography is really powerful that way.
Prox: What is it about Japanese culture that has such an influence on your life and work?
P.SUS: I have a limited understanding of Japanese culture because I’ve never lived there nor am I Japanese, but I have always found their art very beautiful. I developed an interest in Asian culture when I started taking Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art, at a young age. I also went on to become interested particularly in Zen Buddhism from Japan, maybe that’s what sparked my interest in Japan specifically. Or maybe it was because almost all of my video games were from Japan. The writing, architecture, language, animation, technology, gardening, cuisine, and music. It just seems to resonate with me for some reason. I feel like a lot of music by Japanese artists has a certain innocence to it that I really love.
Prox: Some of your tracks (“Rainterlude” and “Discover” immediately come to mind) are marvelous drone selections. Could we possibly see an ambient project from you in the future?
P.SUS: I’m glad you liked those and I definitely really enjoy making ambient music. An entirely ambient album is certainly possible, but that’s not really what I have in mind currently. I’d rather be exploring a range of music. Happy to sad, soothing to up beat. Or angry and chaotic maybe? I’m not really much of an angry person. I’ve been making “chill” music for awhile and I’d like to keep people on their toes a bit more.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
P.SUS: Steve Shehan, Madlib, Flying Lotus, Teebs, The Avalanches, Sora, Daisuke Tanabe, Yuu Miyake, Daft Punk, Maxo, Tennyson, Wave Racer, Cubesato, Gold Panda, Soichi Terada, Moka Only, Thundercat, Ras G, Akufen, Lone, Cornelius, Yuri Miyauchi, Jacob 2-2…. The list goes on. I’m uncomfortable choosing favorites but those are some contemporary artists I find myself listening to often.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
P.SUS: I love walking, being in nature, and exploring the world.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
P.SUS: I’ve always found it helpful to expose myself and be open to a wide variety of music. Just keep working at what you want to do, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t take everything too seriously.
Prox: Information on upcoming releases and projects?
P.SUS: I just released a collection of Soundcloud singles from 2013 through 2015. I’d like to make more of my older work available to download soon, too. I have some other ideas in the works but I like surprising people!
Prox: Final Thoughts?
P.SUS: Big shout outs to my URL friends!!!
Gee-0, Jeesh, Dainumo, Billinski, Breezewax, Lodey, Riverman, ThinkFishTank, Sapien Alien, T Sex, Jawka, EvilManPenguin, goldpikpikcarrots, Timid Soul, Creep Crawl Flash, Lunagram, Mefaun, Enjoyed, glue70, _yi., Rollergirl!, InexpensiveJew, Remixluke/LukeHimself
Check them all out, they make great things.
You can learn more about follow P.SUS and purchase his music, here.
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