The reward is in the challenge – by Susana

March 3rd, 2013

vo·cal·ist [voh-kul-ist]
a singer

Even though the dictionary is right, its definition offers quite a one dimensional perspective of what being a vocalist entails. To be a vocalist -  in my case – means being a singer, live performer, songwriter, artist, entrepreneur, globe trotter, social media expert ;), radio host and brand. The biggest part of my career of course consists of music itself; checking and selecting tracks to work with, pouring emotion and experiences into words and melodies, recording in the studio and performing live. However, besides that I spend a lot of time networking, doing my own promotion, reaching out to producers, organizing and doing photo and video shoots, vocal training to keep my voice in good condition, educating myself in the business side of things, doing interviews, interacting with fans and followers, preparing and rehearsing my live shows, keeping up my financial administration and finding ways to invest time, effort and money in a way that will benefit my career. In 2012 I also became involved with V2V – a radio show on Afterhours.FM dedicated to vocal EDM – which has led me to spend even more time checking out promos and researching the latest and greatest tracks in order to put together a nice radio show. So there are a lot of activities involved! Most of which I love, some of which – like negotiating about agreements, doing admin or waiting hours at airports – I’d say are occupational hazards. All of this didn’t just come natural to me though. I may have been born a singer at heart, but I’ve had to grow into all these roles. Even now I am still learning and developing every day. And thankfully so! The reward is in the challenge. Just as with any career path I’m faced with issues and obstacles every once in a while as well. I get demotivated and feel insecure at times just like anyone else. However, whenever this happens there are two things that keep me going; the realization that there is nothing else I’d rather do with my life and my believe that even though it can be difficult and scary at times, progress can only be made when you step out of your comfort zone and conquer the hurdles.

Where some other artists have the funds to get an entire management team on board to take care of most of the above, you could say I’m more of a ‘do-it-myself’ artist. This is a reality born out of necessity but right now I don’t think I’d have it any other way. I love what I’m doing and I love being in the driver seat. I don’t have to do it all on my own though! Over the years I have found myself surrounded with people who support me in all of these aspects; my awesome parents who have always encouraged me to do what makes me happy, my vocal coach Kirsten who helps me to explore the many dimensions of the human voice and who will always give me her honest opinion, Raz Nitzan and Adrian Broekhuyse from A&R Recordings who I have worked with closely since the beginning and who have taken up certain management related tasks, my booking agency JAM DJ Management, my business consultant who always manages to make me see things from a different perspective and of course Armada as record label and my close friends and extended family. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am now. It can be challenging to get all of them on the same page sometimes though. And for myself the biggest challenge is probably not to lose myself in the process!

Anyone that steps into the limelight is going to be confronted with expectations and opinions. In the beginning I would let negative comments get to me. But I soon realized that it’s impossible to please everyone. My mom told me that even though being open to feedback is a good thing, I should value it only when it comes from people that I hold dear and from those who I know have my best interest at heart. And even then, eventually all that matters is me being a 100% behind what I’m doing. Easier said than done of course. Cause for someone like me who tends to set the bar high for herself this can be quite a challenge! Another thing I would allow to get to me in the beginning is the fact that there was – and still is albeit to a lesser extend nowadays – a certain level of prejudice and disrespect towards vocalists in EDM. To be honest I’ve hesitated to touch upon this subject here. Instead of spending energy on talking about it, I’d rather just do my thing and in this way prove those people wrong by example. I really believe that in this case actions are so much more powerful than words! So why did I decide to mention it anyway? Well, for the very simple reason that I wanted to write an honest blog about what it’s like to be vocalist. And this is also a part of it.

Nevertheless I am very positive about the future for vocalists as artists in EDM. Over the past years the popularity of vocalists has been growing steadily. Their fan bases are multiplying, as shown by their following on social media. There are more and more vocalists who profile themselves as solo artists, releasing tracks and albums under their name and/or in equal credit with the DJ/producer. More and more clubs and festivals are interested in bringing vocalists on stage, their name on the line-ups no longer appearing as the odd one out. It may be true that currently this is only a reality for a handful of vocalists, but I am confident that this development will continue and that there will be space for more and more vocalists to take center stage.

So what does a typical week for look like for me? Well, in my life no week is really the same. This week for example I’m working on a new track in preparation of a recording session next week. It’s a collab with a DJ/producer duo who I’ve been looking forward to work with! Furthermore I received news from another producer who I’ve written a top line for about the plans for the track. I was also faced with the challenging but fun task of picking my favorite pictures of the photo shoot I had last week. After a brainstorming session over the phone with photographer Liselotte Schuppers I’ve managed to put together a nice selection. You will find one of those pictures with this blog. I hope you like it! Besides the above I answered a request for an interview, paid some bills, communicated with my vocal coach to schedule a new session etc. And I have been working on this blog of course! Which is already turning out more extensive than initially planned so I think this is where I should wrap it up! I hope you have enjoyed reading it!


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