Interview: A Whirlwind Year for Suki Waterhouse

Photo courtesy of Sub Pop Records and Suki Waterhouse
Photo courtesy of Sub Pop Records and Suki Waterhouse

Actress and singer Suki Waterhouse is back with her first single of the year “To Love.” The track, released on March 3rd, was initially meant for her next album, but Waterhouse shared it early with listeners. This release comes after a whirlwind past few months where we saw the arrival of her debut album I Can’t Let Go and her Milk Teeth EP, as well as her performance as Karen in the Amazon Prime series Daisy Jones And The Six.  


On Sunday, January 29th, Suki Waterhouse brought her Coolest Place in the World tour to Paradise Rock Club in Boston for a sold-out show. Here, she treated the audience to a performance of the then-unreleased “To Love.” Ahead of the show, Waterhouse sat down with our Music Coordinator, Breanna Nesbeth for an interview.


By Breanna Nesbeth, Music Coordinator


Hi! How are you? Welcome to Boston!

SW: Thank you! I’m good! I had a bit of fun in New York last night so I’m a bit frazzled, but I’m good.


Oh, how was that?

SW: It was really fun! It's just– flying the next day is never, never as fun. You’re like “Okay, I’ve had a night out and now I have to be at the airport and I have to be up at like 8.” I was late this morning. I ran out of my house and I didn’t even bring a bag so I’ve got no makeup, no nothing.


Have you ever performed like that before? Like where the night before was just crazy.

SW: Definitely. But, I mean, I've got all my important things.


Well that’s awesome. So, let's jump right in. You released your first full album last May, I Can’t Let Go, you went on tour with Father John Misty, and released a music video for “Nostalgia.” Would you say you made the most of your year?

SW: Yeah, definitely. Last year turned out to be one of the more productive years. It felt like it was like, sort of ten years. Thinking about this record that I wanted to make that actually I was never quite sure if I was ever going to actually make. And it all happened quite fast. It suddenly felt like I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be. 


So what did you do after feeling that?

SW: It was finding the right producer. I listened to a song called “Cat’s Eye Blue'' by Hiss Golden Messenger just over and over again. And I thought, well, maybe I'll just call the producer who made this and it happened to be Brad Cook. And within two weeks I was on a plane going to make my record with him, and I’d never met him, ever. We just had a couple of phone calls, so it felt very divine in that way. That I even took the risk of going to make a record independently with a producer I’d never met. And not something that I recognized in myself. I got to North Carolina, and Brad turned out to be the most kind and stunningly talented person I could have ever worked with. 


That's awesome to hear that. And that was your experience making your first full record, after just doing singles and putting them out whenever you wanted. So now that you've done the two, which do you prefer moving forward?

SW: Well, I guess now everything's changed quite a lot. I made the record independently. And after I made the record, I sent it to a couple of labels and one of those labels was Sub Pop and it took them six months to even listen to it.


What did you do in those six months? Oh my gosh!

SW: Well, I got an email back saying “We don’t really want to listen to it.”


What was it like getting that email and then just having to wait those following months?

SW: I sent another email saying “Just checking in! Do you like… maybe want to try?” But that's just the nature of labels. Then we got on the phone and we sort of just ended up talking for hours and that was the label that took me under their wing and signed me. 

That was all incredibly unexpected. And I think I got incredibly lucky with the fact that that was the label that wanted me. I’m a huge fan of all the bands that they’ve signed, especially the bands from the 90s. To be a part of that roster is another incredible experience. To answer your question: I think, yeah, doing another album is probably more of what I’d like


And this is the first tour that you're headlining. Is that exciting?

SW: Yeah! It's crazy.


Was it overwhelming? Is it still overwhelming?  

SW: Oh, yeah. Also, the fact that it was a January 10th tour. The prep is quite terrifying because you've got that long Christmas break where you can't get ahold of anyone and no one returns calls and it’s just completely silent. So I’m just sitting there at Christmas thinking “I'm going on a tour in ten days and I don’t have a tour manager,” and about how we’ve also got the snow and the ice, and that is another factor of tour– driving around in Winter. It’s way overgone my expectations of what I thought the tour would be like. And the fact that we nearly got 1 more show ‘till it’s a sold-out tour.


That is so exciting! How do you feel about that?

SW: It’s just crazy. I’m super grateful I got to do the Father John Misty tour in the Summer. That really showed me the ropes. I at least had two months of experience behind me. 


On this tour you're doing songs from “I Can't Let Go,” but you're also doing singles from “Milk Teeth,” how does it feel taking nostalgic songs on the road? Does it feel fun reliving those memories each night?

SW: Yeah, for sure. Those songs– I called it “Milk Teeth”– I don’t know if in America they say “milk teeth”?


We don’t, no, just baby teeth.

SW: Baby teeth! Yeah, those songs were like my first little baby teeth, so they're like core benchmarks for me. They’re what I always go back to. They have a very distinct, untampered sensibility to them. They were all made when I really had like no opinions and there's something really special about that. They’re the ones people connect to the most.


Yeah, “Good Looking” went viral on the internet. What was your response to that?

SW: Yeah, that's such a strange thing to happen. When your song from like seven or eight years ago that you made in your bedroom that has kind of a really rough quality to it– it’s not like a waltzy, swing-timey song… If anyone were to have said “Yeah, that’d be the one that people enjoy,” I would not believe them, but that was incredible. Just watching, and finding out there's this small, chaotic thing just completely happening out of your control is amazing. 


A lot of the songs on Milk Teeth are stories from your twenties, right?

SW: Yeah.


Well, you're 31 now. You just turned 31. So how would you look back on your twenties? Or, what was the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from your twenties?

SW: I think it’s like… energy? Like especially energy in failure. It’s constant. It's constant failure.


I'm 20 now so hearing that is like “Oh, my gosh, ten more years of that?”

SW: Are you? Well, it's constant failure! And you kind of know when you're 20 you can make those f*ck ups. And I’ve always heard that things get clearer in your thirties, and I’ve really found that to be true. It’s been mental clarity. It's not as difficult to exist now. I think for me, taking some of those definitive moments. Your twenties, those moments really crystallize in your brain and you never forget them. Even when you’re way older. Everyone remembers their twenties. And for me, it was taking those key moments that hurt so much and making something out of them. The energy you get from a breakup and trying to create around how you feel, when you're at odds with the world is really potent. So that’s my advice– to use that energy. 


And when it comes to these, just devastating moments in our lives, when do you know “Okay, this is something I can write about now.”

SW: Definitely not when I’ve grown from them. It’s more like, I’ve talked about it so much with a friend or I’m trying to understand it and I'm really struggling to and I keep falling short. So, I think a lot of the time I try to write songs when I'm in the thick of it because I want to memorialize the feeling. It's very dramatic, I know.


It’s just so interesting because you’re always going to have those memories in song form, do you ever think you’ll be afraid that you can’t escape them?

SW: No, because you do change so much. The things that you think you’ll be holding onto and devastated over forever really do change after a while. I love being able to have certain songs like “Brutally,” like that’s one of my favorite sad songs to listen to. I just like, really, really know. “Brutally” and “Coolest Place,” I know the roots of it. And then that essence. When you share it with other people, it becomes that for them too. It’s really cool.


It is really cool! This tour is actually called “The Coolest Place In the World.” Where is the coolest place in the world?

SW: The coolest place in the world that I’ve ever visited?



SW: Well it’s funny because I wrote that song about a “navy sheets” kind of guy.


Oh, I know. I was listening to it on the way here, trying to get a sense and I was like “Oh, I’ve been in this room too many times!”  

SW: Yeah it’s like a navy sheets kind of guy, who lives in his Mother’s basement.


But when you're in it, it really is one of the coolest places. Just infatuated with that dude.

SW: Yeah! And that's really what it’s about. Just being in somebody's presence. More than a real place.


Yeah, like what makes it the coolest place is you’re with them.

SW: Exactly.


But if you had to have one place where you're like, “Okay, no THIS is the coolest place I've ever been.”

SW: You want a location?!



SW: I don’t know, I haven’t been on a trip apart from a tour for such a long time. Probably bed. Yeah. Bed, at home back in LA. In my apartment with like Postmates, on FaceTime, and with an episode of Real Housewives or something


Oh my gosh, I love Real Housewives. Which location is your favorite?

SW: I kinda do Beverly Hills. It’s in LA and I have an understanding of the place. And maybe New York, as well.


I love New York, but Potomac is my favorite!

SW: I’ve watched that one!


Well, I don’t want to take up too much more of your time so I just want to ask one more question. You're filming Daisy Jones and The Six. How does it feel to portray a fictional rockstar? And now, you’re here, on a tour being an actual rockstar?

SW: It’s so strange. I think with acting, the character sort of bleeds into you and I really wanted to play that character, you know, definitely for selfish reasons. Like I’m gonna force piano lessons for three hours a day for like four months. And I think playing Karen– she’s so confident and she never questions whether or not she should be or whether or not she's allowed to go and be a musician. I was in a place where I was definitely questioning whether I’d be allowed to put music out because I was an actress and I wasn’t 20 years old anymore. 

I think playing her definitely weaved my life and her life together. When I got cast in that role, I didn't have an album together and by the time we finished shooting, I was going on tour. So, it’s very weird. But that’s kind of divine and strange, right?


Yeah, that is! It’s fun seeing moments like that. To just witness, or experience.

SW: Yeah, yeah!


Well, that’s it from me! Thank you.

SW: Thank you! That was such a lovely interview!

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