Getting back on the horse: Q&A with synth-pop songstress NUSSY
Melbourne-based electronic synth-pop artist, NUSSY, went through every singer’s worst nightmare. After undergoing vocal surgery, she lost her voice and was temporarily unable to speak, let alone sing. While it was an incredibly risky process, she actually came out the other end with an even stronger voice, which is showcased with tremendous gusto in her latest release ‘Tremble’ – the perfect tune to float around to on the dance floor.
We spoke with NUSSY this week, who told us more about her recovery process, spoke of her disappointment around the under-representation of female artists in the music scene and told us about the last thing that made her cry (we can guarantee it’s the last thing that made you cry too).
Describe your vibe in three words.
Sparkly, brooding synth-pop.
You recently had to undergo vocal surgery to remove a benign cyst on your vocal flaps. As a musician, how did you get through this?
It was a total nightmare. It was honestly one of the scariest things I've been through to date. I went from feeling sick and having a bit of a sore throat one day, to being told I had to have throat surgery and my voice may never be the same again. I literally cried in front of my surgeon because I just kept thinking, "music is my life, I have no idea what I will do if I can't sing."
I was super lucky to be able to see a top notch surgeon who specialises in this sort of thing for singers and my voice is honestly stronger than it's been in a very long time. I'll be forever grateful to her, as well as a great team of Speech Pathologist, Physio and Vocal Coach - I owe so much to them all!
I was also lucky to have such a supportive group of humans around me - my family, my boyfriend, friends and the band - they all worked really hard to keep me occupied and feeling positive through the time I wasn't able to do much. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have my doubts - of course I felt like throwing in the towel more than once. It was a long recovery process and I had a few set backs along the way.
Not being able to sing was the biggest thing; singing and writing is the main way I express myself and not being able to do that was really demoralising. I just kept thinking, "this is so hard, why am I even bothering?" and it took me to some pretty dark places. The thing that took me out of that rut was taking part in APRA Songhubs in Singapore in September. It was right before I was due to perform at Music Matters, which was my first run of shows since the surgery, and I was super nervous about whether my voice was even going to work! But the whole experience re-invigorated me - both the writing camp and performances - it reminded me of why I love music and why I could never not have that in my life.
Your new single, Tremble, is an ode to the club dance-floor. Can you tell us about your favourite tune to get ‘down&dirty’ to when you’re hitting the dancefloor?
I'm an absolute sucker for old school house and dance music and I can't ever go past 'Toca's Miracle'. Talk us through your songwriting process.
I love working with other writers and producers and I know I'm at my best in a really warm, collaborative workspace. I used to write a lot on my own but my mind is my worst nightmare sometimes and I used to get stuck in my own head a lot. It's great to have other people around who don't let you dwell on tiny little things; I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times! I work best when I have a track to write lyrics and melody, so usually I will sit down with a producer and we will start making the basis of a track together. Then, once I can get a sense of a vibe, I usually just think about "what do I feel this track wants to be about" and lyrics and melody just come from there!
"I love working with other writers and producers and I know I'm at my best in a really warm, collaborative workspace." What makes up your ideal weekend?
I love getting dressed-up and going out dancing but I don't get to do that a lot because I work most weekends and I travel a lot; sometimes it gets hard to catch up with friends! My ideal weekend would be to play on Friday night (whether that be live or DJ set somewhere), have some drinks and get dressed up and head out dancing on Saturday night, then spend Sunday on the couch with my puppy watching Netflix and some Uber Eats. If you could support any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
This is a hard one! I'd have to say either Madonna, Eurythmics or Robyn - all three have had HUGE influences on me as an artist and a performer!
What’s the last thing that made you angry?
I wouldn't say it makes me angry, but I am definitely frustrated about the under representation of female fronted acts on festivals bills. We work in such a male dominated industry and I think it's super important for young females to see our gender represented more in these sorts of things because it will give them the confidence to know that they can do it too. Having said that, I don't think it should be at the detriment of another artist with more merit. As a female, I want to know that I'm being included on a festival bill or a writing camp because of my talent, not because of my gender.
"We work in such a male dominated industry and I think it's super important for young females to see our gender represented more."
What’s the last book you couldn’t put down?
I'm currently reading 'Fight Like A Girl' by Clementine Ford and LOVING IT! What’s the last film that made you cry?
I will literally cry in anything that is even remotely emotional! The other day I cried during an episode of 'Queer Eye'! (Editor's note: OMG, who DOESN'T cry during an episode of Queer Eye?!?! Especially when Tom and Abbey grace our screens. I die.) What’s your best piece of advice for budding musos?
The best piece of advice I can give is to always do YOU. I spent a really long time in my late teens and early twenties trying to be what other people wanted me to be and trying to make the sort of music that I thought people would like. I couldn't figure out why I was never 100% happy with anything I was making and then one day it just clicked - I just needed to do what I wanted to do. I needed to stop trying to do whatever was "cool" at the time and just make music that I liked and wanted to listen to.
No-one is going to believe in you, or your project, unless you do. You need to be your biggest advocate. That can be hard sometimes because there are going to be people who don't dig what you're putting out and I'd be lying if I said I didn't take that stuff personally - you have to have a thick skin in this business! But of course, it's so much more rewarding when people do dig it! Would you rather: Wake up early or stay out late? I'm a night owl and I don't 'do' mornings in any sense of the word, so I'll stay up late all the way! Drink a shot of tequila or a shot of coffee? Tequila. Alcohol is fun, coffee just exacerbates all my anxieties. Spend a rainy day under the doona or a sunny day at the beach? I am a sucker for a bit of Netflix and chill on a rainy day Win a million dollars worth of toilet paper or a million dollars worth of condoms? Condoms - safety first. There are a million arseholes who will lie through their teeth just to get a piece - it's not worth it.
CHECK OUT NUSSY'S UPCOMING TOUR DATES HERE MAY 25 – Ancient World, Adelaide w/ Nakatomi MAY 31 – Boney, Melbourne w/ Hudson Wallace and guests Frame & Ezra Allen JUNE 15 - FriYAY @ Francesca's Bar, Northcote (DJ SET) JUNE 22 – Heya Bar, Brisbane w/ Christian Patey & Ella Fence