Suzi Moon, singer-guitarist with LA three-piece Turbulent Hearts and former singer-guitarist with Civet, tells us about her life as a musician and why gear isn’t everything.
How long have you been a professional musician?
Twelve years. I don’t think most people get as lucky as I did, but the second I joined Civet, I had this gung ho attitude about emailing big booking agents, and some of them helped us out. We toured for six years and played with Social Distortion, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, Mighty Mighty Bosstones…it was almost too good to be true.
After Civet, I took film courses at LA City College, then started a new band and used those skills to make music videos.
This band that I’m in now, Turbulent Hearts, is a three piece – the bass player and drummer are the hardest-hitting musicians I’ve ever played with!
Who are some of your influences?
Tom Petty would be my first, as far as song writing goes. Man, if I could write one song that Tom Petty likes… I love Social Distortion and Rancid. Tim Armstrong from Rancid is also left-handed – I wouldn’t have any of my guitars if it wasn’t for him. He saw that I had shady left-handed guitars, and was like, ‘We have to get you hooked up with Fender’.
That’s a nice guitar you have, by the way.
Thank you – that’s just a shitty Squire that I painted – it’s my Frankensquire. There was a moment in time when my old band was doing so good, we could tell Fender ‘I want this custom colour on this, with these pickups’. That’s all cool, but gear doesn’t last forever – your heart and soul does.
That said, where does the equipment come into play? Is it crucial to delivering the art?
Not to me. I don’t know anything about my head, about my cab – I don’t care about the guitar if it’s pretty and doesn’t sound like shit. Singing is important to me, and writing lyrics, but it starts with the chords and chord progressions. I love Sam Cook and Otis Redding – I want to make music that’s timeless.
Singing is important to me, and writing lyrics, but it starts with the chords and chord progressions.
Do you find a sound and try to adapt the story to it, or do you find the story first?
It’s more about the feeling. It starts with one lyric that comes to my mind, and builds from there. I like things to be relatable, and easy for people to understand. It’s important to play with feeling and emotion – if you talk to someone who’s seen us play, they’ll say we have a lot of energy.
Would you say that people who just listen to your music, rather than seeing your music, would feel different things?
I think so. People are quick to say they know what they like, but there is something different that happens when Turbulent Hearts plays live. We’ve got emotion, we connect, we have fun.
Is there anything you see in other performers that you wish you could do differently?
Touring is the most important thing to me. It doesn’t matter how many great records you make if you’re not going out there and living out of a bag to perform to the people who love your songs, night after night until your health is starting to suffer. Those people made you, in a sense, and all they want is for you to come through their town. That’s the real work you should put in as an artist. I could play to a million empty houses because I want to play. It’s not about the crowds – I just feel lucky to be playing.