By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Even though she was a devoted church member, there was a type of loneliness that Sug Daniels experienced that little in that crowd could relate to.
It wasn’t until she came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community and left the church that she learned to not only put that isolation in the past, but use those same religious methods of unity through emotional music and apply them to her own beliefs.
From there, she started two musical projects – Hoochi Coochi and FlowCity – and then, soon experimented with the idea of solo material and dived deeper into that aspect this past year, through an array of evocative singles like “Heavy,” “Kintsugi” and “Space & Time” on her debut EP ‘Franklin Street’ that merge elements of low-fi, R&B and folk with lyrics centered around topics of self-healing and racism.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based singer/songwriter/producer about what she has been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What was the moment that made you want to become a musician?
Sug Daniels – I’ve been making music since I was a kid. I started singing in church as a little girl and I never stopped. I actually never knew that most people didn’t consider it a viable career option until I got older. That never stopped me, though.
Music Bugle – What has been your hardest obstacle to overcome to get where you are?
Sug Daniels – Music has always been such a teacher for me. I spent many years in the music industry trying to be and sound like what I thought people wanted to see and hear. Learning to be my true authentic self in and out of music has been the biggest and best obstacle to overcome.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your single “Space & Time”?
Sug Daniels – My single “Space & Time” is a song about trying to save a friendship with someone you used to have a relationship with. I think sometimes, we think breakups need to be messy and dramatic, but that’s simply not true. I feel like I was going through that situation at the time and couldn’t find many options in literature or music to help me express what I felt, so I wrote something. I hope someone who is going through this situation hears this song and knows that emotional maturity and intelligence is also an option when splitting with a lover.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Sug Daniels – Whenever I need a break, I like to surround myself with friends and family. I’m not too good at sitting still and can be a bit of a workaholic. On the rare occasion I’m with other humans, I tend to be very in the moment and observant. I love hanging out in nature since I’m always in bars and clubs for music.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Sug Daniels – (Laughs) How have I not been affected is the real question! I feel more of a sense of community and connection since Covid-19 interrupted our daily lives. At first, it was easy to feel personally attacked, but once you zoom out, you realize the entire world is trying their best and we’re all a lot more similar than we are fed by the media. We all want to be happy, healthy, free and to get hugs from our loved ones!
Music Bugle – What is your favorite creative aspect of being a singer, songwriter and producer?
Sug Daniels – My favorite thing about being a musician really is a toss-up between the initial high of creating something new and performing for people. I love the feeling of the spark of an idea. I can physically feel it in my heart and there’s not too many things that feel like that to me. Performing has always been fun for me, because it’s like a gift you give to other people and as long as you’re good and practiced, people tend to be very appreciative. Who doesn’t like gifts?
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Sug Daniels – The fact that I honestly don’t have a clue what I’m doing, but people tend to be enjoying it is pretty exciting. I’m moving mostly on instinct, ear and vulnerability, so it’s fun to see that potential in the project unfold in front of me. I have such a diverse collection of artists I really enjoy and pull from, there’s really no way of telling what kind of song my brain will pump out next.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Sug Daniels – I really enjoy being a small town girl. It makes my story interesting, I feel. Although I have been singing in church and performing since I was a kid, I never met a professional musician until I was out of high school. The musician and entertainer in me is innate in me. There’s a lot to overcome when you start this low on the ladder, but that drives me to work harder.
Music Bugle – What’s something that you wish happened more in the LGBTQ+ community?
Sug Daniels – I wish I could see and hear more collaborations between LGBTQ+ artists! Curated shows, special nights at venues and anything that brings us together more. Not to isolate our allies, but to create more of a community among ourselves.
Music Bugle – How would you compare your more recent work to your earliest?
Sug Daniels – My newer music is the first and only time I’ve ever made music alone. I love to play it on stage with other players, but it’s an exercise to try and keep up the same energy and entertainment while doing it solo. I’m up for the challenge, though!