An Interview with German swing singer Susie Who: If music was a man, I would be married already

"The Blues makes me feel happy, sad, offers the world for me. It arouses emotions in me that human being has ever done."

Susie Who Swing Revue 

This young swing singer from Munich is fast becoming a secret tip for stardom in the European music biz. Her natural charm and the individuality in her voice easily captivate all who hear her. She is a welcome contrast to the majority of current girl singers with her seductive delivery and subtle humour.

In December 2004 Susie had the idea to record a song for her Granny on a CD. She never dreamed that some years later she would hold her own swing album in her hands.
After graduating Susie worked as an editor with local TV station, TV Munich.
In 2003 she became a department head in a casting agency, finding suitable roles for actors in film and TV.
In December 2008 Susie met the drumming legend, Pete York. After several happy jam sessions the two decided to work together on a new project - Pete York and the Susie Who Swing Revue.
The Live Band is made up from some of the finest young musicians and they interpret to perfection the songs from the new CD as well as a selection of famous and timeless swing standards.
The combination of Susie's singing talent, beauty and enthusiasm and Pete's jazz, blues and rock experience plus his love for entertaining guarantees an unforgettable live show.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Susie, when was your first desire to become involved in the music & who were your first idols?
When I was seven years old my parents gave me a cassette player as birthday present and I started recording all the songs I heard on the radio. My favorite music was already Swing. I had a lot of Idols, starting with Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Albert Hammond, Stevie Wonder, Don Henley, John , George, Paul, Ringo or Roger Whittaker as well. By the way, I was totally in love with all of them...

What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?
My first concert was Neil Diamond in the age of ten. I was totally fascinated of the voice, so I said to myself: I want to do this and maybe I’ll marry him.
So I started learning „Song sung blue“ by listening to the record and writing down the lyrics. I wrote down every song, that was played on the radio. In my „schoolgirl english“, so sometimes the original title took on other meanings. „Our love‘s a jeopardy“ became „I love some Japanese“ or „Que sera“ became „Käse da“, which means „There is Cheese“ in german.

What does the BLUES mean to you & what does music offer you?
I think Blues is the beginning of early Jazz and the most emotional and touching part of all improvised music. It makes me feel happy, sad, offers the world for me. It arouses emotions in me that human being has ever done.

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?
The best: To meet and perform with Pete and my producer Dietmar Kawohl.
Worst: My first gig ever as the snake KAA from the Jungle Book in a school show. I was 11 years and had a nice little short haircut and after my fabulous performance a woman came to me and said: Oh, this was so nice, little boy. OUCH!!!!

What do you learn about yourself from music?
Everything! You know, if music was a man, i would be married already.

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?
I am right in the middle... lets see what happens

Where did you pick up your style, how would you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?
I love wearing dresses, this girlish style with ribbons und pleats, I love the style of Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day. I like laughing and flirting with people, they should all come on stage and dance with us, having fun makes people happy

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD artist, how do you want to be remembered?
I think, it is absolutely appropriate, that after I am dead, my head will be on top of the Statue of Liberty. I don’t want more than that

Do you think that your art comes from the heart, the brain or the soul?
Definitely from my heart.

I wonder if you could tell me a few things about your meet with Pete York
My producer Dietmar was invited by his old friend Harold Faltermeyer to join a show and Harold‘s wife Maria gave us a place at the table of Pete York. Dietmar was going nearly crazy and we had a really nice funny time .
So he asked me, what my profession is. „Swing singer. Interesting. Any records?“, „Yes, but not released“. „Let me hear something“... I gave him a CD and he called me on his way home and said: „Lets do something together“ And so it all began

Three words to describe him.

The "Swing Revue", how did this project come about?
It an idea of Pete to have show with us both singing and a high quality small group swinging.  Great songs and good entertainment with lots of our special humour...

How important is a singer’s image?
BE an Idol, be an inspiration and give the people a little joy and happiness with what you do.

What are some memorable stories from shows you‘ve had?
My Grandma- who comes to every concert- was in the audience and we performed all the songs in english, but she doesn’t speak english, so we made german lyrics for the song „its a disaster“ and performed it in the concert, She was very very happy and overwhelmed, for the first time she understood what I am singing.

Some music styles can be fads but the swing is always with us.  Why do think that is?
Fads come and go. Swing and jazz music is like classical music,  „Handmade music“. Deathless

Why did you think that SWING continued to generate such a devoted following?
Though it might always be a kind of „niche music“ it can be as exciting as rock. There will always be young kids who grow up with swing and blues music and carry it on to the next generations. I know lots of young chicks who‘s parents are jazz freaks. They rather „learn“ to love it, also the fashion and the dancing.

What do you think of SWING & how close are they to the BLUES?
Relatives, neighbours, friends, lovers...

Which of historical swing personalities would you like to meet?
All of them. I think it would be a great party.

Who are your favorite swing artists, both old and new, what was the last record you bought?
Dean, Frank, Sammy, Billie, Ella.. the list is endless
And I would love to go for a coffee with Rod Stewart (he recorded the complete american songbook in 2007) or have a poker game with Rod, Tony Bennett and Michael Buble. I think I could win.

Is there any similarity between the swing today and the swing of the 30s – 50s?
Many. You cant re-invent music. Of course the quality of production today has a higher sound standard. I like both

Do you think the younger generations are interested in the swing? Give one wish for the swing
Nearly everyday I get nice reactions in answer to my record, also from  young people. Also children love swing music, because it is a happy sound. I wish that it will last, it deserves too.

Make an account for current realities of the case of the swing in Germany
I am an optimistic woman. Germans are not known for their sense of rhythm but many have very good taste, which is why we have the best beer and why lots of people love good music.

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the swing music?
Definitely from my producer Dietmar Kawohl. He has played swing since he was 16 years old and taught me everything I need to know. Most of my recordings are his compositions.

Any of swing standards have any real personal feelings for you & what are some of your favorite standards?
Fly me to the moon (greetings to my lovely friend Reeby)
Everybody loves somebody (we are recording a special version right now)
A swing version from great austrian singer Peter Alexander „Im weissen Rössl am Wolfgangsee“ with a little jodelscat (my niece sophie is goiing crazy when I sing this)

Susie Who - Swingband in Munchen

                                                                                                                Photo Credits: Jan Roeder

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