Interview: Ady Suleiman

Ady Suleiman

Words: Gary Lamberts

Photos: Gaz Jones

ady 1A feeling of doom came over me upon meeting Ady Suleiman and his tour manager, Chris, outside Manchester’s fantastic Albert Hall. Ady was sucking on to an old fashioned inhaler. Experience of meeting singers has been that if ever they are doing something specific to protect their voice – and one of the evils to damage a voice is talking. My expectation at that point was to go over the road outside The Great Northern Warehouse, do the photo shoot and then agree to email over a set of questions for Ady to reply after the gig. Instead after the photo shoot I was able to sit down and talk to one of the most pleasant people I have ever had the fortune to meet. Ady Suleiman is a gentleman and also happens to be one of the brightest young talents around.

As Ady was halfway through his tour, it was the effects of singing for four consecutive nights which had been the catalyst for using the inhaler. “My voice felt a bit rough this morning, so I was put on complete vocal rest until this afternoon and told to use this to keep my throat loose”. It’s hard enough for me to keep quiet at the best of times so the thought of being on a tour bus in silence was horrendous – but Ady was quite philosophical over it. “My voice is my instrument so I have to look after it. But it is tough when there are seven lads going around together on tour and you’re all in the van cracking jokes and getting stuck in to each other, and I am dying to stick my two pence in on it. But I know it’s my job so I have to keep quiet”.

The tour, which we were fortunate enough to catch later that evening, has been the latest opportunity for Ady Suleiman to get in front of the crowd and perform. Something he looks naturally gifted at, and has his head screwed on enough to know that one swallow doesn’t make a summer and as much as a good gig doesn’t make you a legend, a bad gig doesn’t ruin you. “Every gig is an experience. At the moment I feel that every show we do helps us all. The band get more comfortable with the set and us playing together and I feel we all sound better from that. I know though when a bad gig comes that I’ve got to use it as a tool to learn from, to see what I need to do better.

“It’s for crowds like this that you do it. I looked around the venue when we got here and I was nervous thinking “well we will get a few hundred people maybe”, but the venue has been full since early afternoon. It’s probably the second biggest gig I’ve played too. The only bigger one was playing in front of 4,000 people at Brixton Academy supporting Fat Freddie’s Drop. But being able to do this is a blessing”

yo1v4rguu9jewnt6xm89gglwatglph5bwu9ojnzrysofy9zmismp4pmfbcv-ylysd9y5gxr5azlewz5b8jlgssThe gig experience has changed so much over the last few years. As social media has quickly become omnipresent through smartphones it has had a massive influence over the way gigs are viewed, and I am avoiding turning this into a rant about people watching gigs through screens. Gigs, like almost everything in life, is an opportunity for a relationship to build and develop; for musicians to meet their audience, to get their photo taken (and then Instagram’d, tweeted and retweeted in the hope of going viral), to sell an EP or a poster and then sign it, and to give people memories of the person/people not just memories of the performance.

“Social media really is a blessing to us all. It allows you to speak with people and get their opinions and thoughts. You don’t need to go through a radio show and wait until they want you, you can get stuff out to your fans straight away. I’m not even that good at it. Some of my mates are brilliant at it, seeing on the way something cool and taking a photograph before I’ve even got my phone out. But fans get to see the real you from it. There is no middleman any more”.

In the drive over to Manchester earlier, Popped Music’s Editor, Elena Katrina,  told me of how much she had enjoyed watching Ady perform at a festival this summer. “There are not many acts I would stay out in the rain for” was her decisive comment to support how strong a performer he is. This stuck with me throughout the day and I had to mention it to him. “Oh brilliant, was she at Barn on the Farm? That gig was sick. It was bucketing down and I looked at the weather and thought that nobody would be there watching me, so when I saw this big audience there and up for it I got out there and got stuck in with them”. Enthusiasm and enjoyment shone from Ady like a beacon as he talked about the set. He definitely enjoyed playing out in the rain.

There are already Ady Suleiman EPs available, and now is the time that people, Popped Music included, are looking towards something bigger. Namely another six inches in vinyl diameter bigger. The debut LP. “The album is about 75%-80% finished now, but I love making music and I’m never happy so I’m going to keep going trying to improve and make new songs until the record label tell me to stop because it is time to put it out. Hopefully it will be early in the New Year that we get to release it. That is not the next thing though. I will be releasing tracks before then. Tracks that haven’t made the album for one reason or another, maybe a remix or two.” Exciting times lie ahead on that front.

ady 3Neighbourhood Festival had been deliberately styled, organised and priced to encourage a younger crowd such as students. Ady had studied Music at University in Liverpool and it was there that his career really started to take off. “It’s not about the lectures. You might have someone tell you how to write a song or how to produce music, but they can only describe certain styles and how to use them. If it isn’t in you, it isn’t in you. What studying music does give you though is the opportunity to mix with people all day long who love music and who are talented. You meet friends and form bands and try out different styles and pick up things that way. A few members of my band have studied music at university and it helps you grow and gather ideas. And once you are ready, you are able to go out into the music scene of a city you haven’t grown up in and become part of that. I was able to get into the Liverpool music scene like that. It was a true blessing having this education.”

Blessing is a term that Ady uses quite a bit to describe his view of the fortune that life’s lottery has presented him. There is plenty of reason for people to think life has given Ady an unfair hand. He is handsome and engaging, whilst also complimentary of interviewer’s Hawaiian shirts and wearing a similarly natty and tasteful shirt himself, and a wonderful singer and performer. But meeting him you do not feel jealous of that hand the fates have presented, instead you hope that this is only the start of a winning streak. Ady Suleiman, he’s a blessing.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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