Updated: Jan 24, 2020
I spoke with the LA based artist about his standout debut album, Manic Drive, out now.
Suede Silver is a jack of all trades. He’s a tattoo artist, graphic designer, model, photographer, and CEO of a carpool app, but you may know him best as the versatile DIY artist behind the track "Spooky Chills", which has amassed over 300,000 streams on Spotify alone. Today, he releases his debut album Manic Drive. The 8-song conceptual album is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve heard. It's a wild and beautiful ride through Suede's genre-defying world.
I got the chance to ask him some questions about the album and his artist project below. You can listen to the album here.
The album is very impressive. The songwriting, the vocals, the production, but even the mixing and the more technical aspects. I figured you had a team of people helping you produce, mix, master, etc. but when I learned it's 100% you, I was blown away. I imagine it's very liberating, but also time consuming and an energy suck. Why is it important for you to be able to do all of these things yourself?
Thanks for the compliments, that means a ton to me! I’d say that it isn’t necessarily important to me that I did it all on my own, but it was necessary. When you have a vision for something as an artist you just HAVE to do it. I’ve never had the resources of a label, studio, mixer, etc so I had to learn how to do it all myself. I'm an artist and obsessed with anything creative, so although it's been a ton of work to learn all these crafts it's been an absolute joy. It seems like it's starting to pay off after about 10 years of going after it, so it's a really exciting time for me!
One of the most impressive things about this album to me is its versatility. Each song is so unlike the other, yet it doesn't contradict itself and still flows beautifully. Was that something intentional when you started the writing process?
Hm in a way yes, but also no. A quick listen to my songs on Spotify and you realize how diverse my taste is. I think that diversity will be represented in any of my work, no matter what. So while the versatility wasn’t a conscious effort, I do know that about myself, and I try to lean into it. The lyrical and sonic concept really helped glue them all together as well.
Can you talk a little bit about the recording process behind the songs (i.e. do you work off of Ableton, do you engineer new drum sounds by meshing samples together, etc.)?
Oof, I could go on and on about this! I use Logic X primarily. I used to use Pro Tools but I found a way to work quicker with Logic and when you’re in the position I am in where you’re doing everything, speed is crucial. I love hip hop so I do most of drum work with samples, but I also layer in live recorded elements to give it a more human and energetic flair. There's so much I can say about my process, because each craft (writing, producing, mixing, and mastering) each has their own process, routines, and inspiration. Overall I just get stoked on an idea and work on it until I can listen to it and not hear anything left that I want to do to it.
I can't get enough of "Tag Along", the album closer. Everything about it is so soothing and the vocals, keys, and guitar just work so well with each other. It's beautiful. What's the background story with how you came up with that one? Why did you place it at the end of the album?
I recorded a few songs to send to my girlfriend for Christmas, and that CD included the instrumental of MY COOL (then called Fast Toys), a demo of Manic Drive, Tag Along, and a rendition of Blue Christmas. For Tag Along I wanted to add a quick little heartfelt song to the CD I sent her and it just came out of me in like 5 minutes. Even recording the parts was quick. I don’t think I spent more than 30 minutes recording all the parts. I think the reason it feels so special is because I wasn’t worried about it being perfect. There was no click track, no pre-written parts, and no game plan for ever using it. I just picked up random instruments and recorded parts. Usually after one take I was happy with it. The whole process for that song made it feel so organic so I knew I had to put it in the album. I put it at the end of the album so that it feels like coming home, getting out of the car, walking to the your room and playing guitar. That's something I do frequently and I wanted the sonic experience to reflect the reality of what was going on to the best of my ability.
Do you plan on playing this record live? I'm sure translating it to the live space will be quite the task. Do you play with a band or just you? Do you have any shows coming up?
Hmm this is a tough one. I do really want to play it live. I’m a bit jaded to the live scene right now because there's so many talented artists going after it (especially in LA). My mentality is when people are asking me to do shows and I have a fanbase, I’ll do it, but I don’t want to focus on a live set then have to scrounge for an audience. I've played shows my whole life though and I have some crazy ideas, so when the time comes I’ll be ready!
I know that in addition to making music, you also tattoo, do graphic design work, photography and an array of other things. What takes up the majority of your time?
It depends on the day! I'm also CEO of a company called RidePül, which is an app for managing carpooling with networks of people. That app just got finished so that's a lot of work right now. Besides that, I’m typically working on music and tattoos! The goal is to get to a point where music takes up the majority of my time though.
What's a day in the life of Suede Silver look like? I'm curious how you make time for everything.
Dude, I have no clue how I make time for everything haha. There seems to be less and less time in a day, so it's all about speed. Because of that I've gotten really efficient and organized at the different things I do. I have a constant running list of things to manage and I just update it every day/week so that nothing slips through the cracks.
Lastly, this album seems like it could have some pretty incredible visuals alongside it. I know you do photo and video, should we be expecting a short film or some music video companions to Manic Drive?
Absolutely! I’m going to focus on the album release for now, but I’ll for sure be working on a video for it soon!