Verge Meets: Ady Suleiman

Ady Suleiman is a mere 22 years old and is already embarking on a second headline tour at the end of the month – his first tour, last year, completely sold out. He is set to be huge this year and is fast gaining popularity across the music scene after releasing his second EP ‘What’s The Score’, which featured Joey Bada$$. Ady has also worked with Chance The Rapper and has performed at numerous festivals including Wireless, Reading & Leeds and Bestival. I caught up with the Nottingham newcomer to hear all about his tour and what we can expect from his upcoming album.

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Are you excited for your tour?

My tour starts at the end of the month on the 29thand I’m very excited. I did one last year so it’s been quite a quick succession. When you’re on tour, towards the end you think “I just want to chill” but as soon as it ends I think “ah this is boring, I want to go back on tour”, so I can’t wait to go back out. We’ve got a couple more dates this time round so it’ll be cool.

Are there any shows in particular you’re looking forward to?

Defo XOYO because it’s the only one so far that’s sold out and when it’s sold out the atmosphere is like next level, because it’s a full room you feel like there’s more energy in there. To be honest I’m excited to play them all because all the cities I really love, like Brighton and Bristol I love those places. Notts is obviously close to home, Leeds I haven’t played there before and I’ve got a lot of friends that went to uni down there, so I can’t wait to play there.

What’s next for you once you’ve finished touring? You’re working on an album aren’t you?

The first single will be coming out pretty soon, we just haven’t really put any dates on it yet. I think because there’s still a few things that I’m finishing on it, I’ll probably write one or two more tunes, and I’ve got to finish the production on some of the others and get it all mixed. So no one’s kind of put a strict date on it yet.

Is it the same sort of sounds that you’ve done before or is there anything new you’re working on?

Very similar sort of sounds but my music mixes a lot of genres so it really depends on the song. Some songs could be more of a cross between reggae and hip hop and doesn’t really have any R&B, but some songs on the album are a lot more straight R&B and don’t really have any reggae or hip hop influence. It just depends what song it is that dictates how I range it and what kind of, sonically, I’m going to put around it.

Have you teamed up with any other artists on the new album?

I haven’t yet but, again, it’s not finished. I have got a couple of names in mind but it’s just if they respond because I’ve got space for a couple of features, so fingers crossed we get some people on there. If not, I also will be happy because I wouldn’t want to do a feature just for the sake of it, only if it works.

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You’ve performed before at some pretty big festivals and you’re performing at Parklife this year, are you excited for that?

Parklife is going to be wicked, I’ve been there before a couple of times but not as an artist, I’ve just been there as a punter so it’s going to be interesting being on the opposite side. I’ll have to keep it straight edge.

Have you always known music was something you wanted to do?

Pretty much, I think from the age of about 13. Before that I loved playing football and football was my main passion, but for some reason it suddenly switched to music. For me, whatever I love doing was just what I wanted to do. For me, music was the only thing throughout that people were like “Oh Ady, you’re really good at music” or “you’re the really good singer” so it kind of became part of my personality as well.

What was your first step into the music industry?

One of my songs got played on BBC Radio Nottingham and Dean Jackson pulled it off my SoundCloud and started playing it, and then, because of that, people started to be a bit more aware of me and some labels started emailing me at uni and obviously I was freaking out. The music industry is quite small so once one person has heard of you then you’re kind of on the map and eventually everyone has kind of heard of you.

Did you get to finish your uni course or did your music career take over?

Basically, my course was setting me up to do what, essentially, I’m doing now. It was a music course at LIPA, the performing arts place, and they would be writing in your assessments “how are you going to do this? If you want a publishing deal, what’s the best way about doing it?” When I was doing all that I had a lot of that in place so it was kind of, not easy to finish, because I had a lot of work to do, but a lot of stuff that I was doing was part of the course, so it was really good that I could tie in what I was doing outside of uni.

You’ve said in past interviews that you’re inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse in terms of their success, is their music something you take inspiration from? Or are there other people you look to for music inspiration?

I think with Amy, the reason I said her success is because she was, at the time, the only artist that was doing a cross between, or paying homage to older artists. She did a lot of cross between jazz and hip hop and on the Back to Black records she did 60s supreme stuff and that was, at the time, the stuff that I was listening to. I always thought when I was like 17 that there was no way I was going to be commercially successful, because the music I made was a lot more jazzy driven. But then seeing Amy Winehouse doing that style of music and having the success that she had, was a real turning point to make me pursue the music that I wanted to make and not change what I was doing just to be successful.

Jimi Hendrix was the person that got me into music, without a doubt. Before him I was listening to everything that was on Top of The Pops Chart. They were the two major ones because I remember them having such a big impact, but there’s loads of other artists; Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Chet Baker, Bob Marley is another massive one and now it’s Wu-Tang Clan. So I’ve been inspired by so much music, if I had to pin it down to two major turn points, then defo them.

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They’re both very unique and you’ve got such a unique sound, as long as you stick to that, you’ll always be successful.

Thank you very much. I think that’s really true because people are always thinking “how do I make my stuff stand out? How do I make it unique?” and they try too hard to be different. I always say to them, if you want to be different, just put your voice on it because you’re the only person that has that voice, no one else in the world is going to sing the way you sing. So, for me, that automatically makes it unique, so if you sing on your record it’s going to sound different to what else is out there.

Do you have any advice for young people trying to make it into music?

I would say to them just make the music that you want to make and also don’t chase after industries and labels and stuff like that, because you can do so much by yourself with the internet nowadays. When I was at uni we had these master classes and loads of people’s questions were “how do I get signed?” and I think that’s such a bad way to look at it, because your goal shouldn’t be to get signed by a major label, your goal should be to make music and go around and build your own audience and a label supports that. Gig by yourself, try and go on tour by yourself, do all your videos yourself. I think as much you can do yourself and have as much creative control over, that’s going to be the difference between everyone else because it’s you and you’re the person that’s going to sell your music more so than anything else.

The other one as well is defo songwritng; I think it’s a really key thing to write your own stuff. Say you really want to make it as an artist, but if you don’t make it, if you can write songs then you’ll always be able to write for other people and that’s probably where you’ll make your money.

Ady Suleiman’s headline tour starts at The Green Door Store in Brighton on 29th February. For tickets for the tour go to www.gigsandtours.com/tour/ady-suleiman. Watch out for Ady’s debut single ‘Running Away’ coming soon.

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