On an overland journey, the straight road is rarely the most enjoyable or rewarding. Instead, taking some unexpected avenues can lead one to both adventure and actualization. The same can be said for the musical pathway of Susan Hull a.k.a cabaret mistress of ceremonies, Susy Blue.
First treading the boards as a classical ﬂautist, Hull completed ﬁve years of conservatory study before realising that her own path was not going to be so straight and narrow. “Ultimately my personality’s probably not suited to classical music – the perfection, the athleticism, the competition,” reveals Hull. “I never would have worked in an orchestra, I was always a soloist and very ‘musical’ and played through feeling, not intellect. So I started studying improvisation and jazz, which was great for writing music and exploring harmony.”
With new musical worlds opening up for the nascent Susy Blue, the world opened up a little more literally during a post-study sojourn to South America. “That trip was a big case of getting out of the practice room and into some life. I initially really wanted to go for the music, especially that of Piazzolla [tango] and some Brazillian music too but I didn’t really end up playing a whole lot; I think I just needed to go have some fun, travel, learn some life lessons. The main playing I ended up doing was with Peruvian pop musicians!”
Tapping into intuition was a new experience for Hull, and lead her to some unexpected creative spaces. Recruiting a revolving line-up of partners in crime, Susy Blue is an intoxicating cocktail of shadowy cabaret folk. Informed by the ragtag calamity of Irish music, blessed with bluegrass vibes, infused with sly whimsy, shaken by the heart-racing impetus of klezmer and topped with the sultry possibilities of jazz, Susy Blue’s unique music expression is addictive in its sensuous complexity.
Seeing the obvious potential in Hull, the Australian Youth Council awarded her a Buzz Grant in 2007 to recording an eponymous EP of songs she wrote while on her journey. The continuing musical evolution of Susy Blue has also seen Hull named a ﬁnalist in the 2010 Melbourne Music Prize (development award) and the Darebin Music Feast Songwriters’ Award as well as earning her place on 2009’s Naked In The Woods Freeza compilation alongside such luminaries as Suzannah Espie, Jen Cloher and Angie Hart.
Critics and music lovers alike have recognized Susy Blue’s unique style and timeless voice. Her 2011 debut album Curly Girl received critical acclaim, such as “an adorable, entertaining and clever album not to be missed’ (Rave Magazine), as well as extensive local and national airplay, including Triple J and ABC Radio National. It also won the hearts of a Motive Melbourne Free Film Clip Competition, which saw the creation of the collaborative ‘Circus’ film clip. Performing at festivals such as Woodford, Apollo Bay, Darebin Music Feast and the APRA Song Summit, Susy Blue’s live show features a talented array of band members and is renown for being cheeky, unexpected and entertaining. A cacophony of musical influences with a touch of girlish wonder evokes imagery of happy childhood memories transcending into moments of mischief and melancholy.
Susy Blue’s sophomore album ‘Nobody’s Somebody,’ funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and Arts Victoria, produced by Shane O’Mara (Tim Rogers, Paul Kelly, Lisa Miller) is due for release early 2014.
APRA Song Summit, 2012
High Noon Festival 2011
Northcote Social Club, Album launch 2011
Woodford Folk Festival 2008, 2009, 2010
The Grace Darling, Single Launch 2011
Darebin Music Feast 2009, 2010
Appollo Bay Music Festival, 2009
ABC Brisbane, Wide bay, Darwin
Arts Victoria – Contemporary and Live Music Development Grant (2012)
Australia Council for the Arts – New Work Grant (2012)
Melbourne Music Prize, 2010 (Finalist)
Darebin Songwriters, 2010 (Finalist)
Freeza Central Mentorship, 2009
Australia Youth Council Buzz Grant, 2007