Sui Zhen’s music is difficult to pigeonhole or categorize. It’s definitely electropop, but sounds nothing like Chvrches or Charli XCX. It also has elements of techno and old-school house, but with vocals more reminiscent of Grimes or Bob Moses, the former of whom may be the closest thing to pinning down a comparison to Sui Zhen’s sound. However, there is also a worldbeat/dub influence to her music, which is unexpected in this type of music. This unpredictability is the factor that makes Sui Zhen’s music sound so different from everyone else, even artists who categorize themselves as “experimental.”
Sui Zhen hails from Melbourne, Australia, which seems to have an ever-blossoming proportion of notable musicians. Although she has similarities to a lot of musicians from this area, it should be more heavily noted that she has many differences. Her outsider pop gives a unique viewpoint away from many tropes of today’s commercial music. Secretly Susan bizarre take on modern artistry is a far cry from other Melbourne musicians such as Gotye. Interestingly, in addition to being a musician,
Sui Zhen dabbles in visual arts and is a gallery exhibit producer. These aspects of her life clearly trickle over to her music.
On the chorus of the track “Hangin’ On” Sui Zhen’s sings, “Nonchalant is all I can do.” This is an accurate representation of her sonic attitude as a whole. Her sound is relaxed and unaggressive. With many synthesized tropical percussion elements such as electronic congas and bongos, Secretly Susan feels like it could be enjoyed on the beach or just as easily relished while relaxing in a suburban home. The flexibility of Sui Zhen’s music definitely makes it special, which might explain why she was invited to SXSW this year, in addition to her performances at CMJ and Bigsound. With hopefully many more plans on the horizon, Sui Zhen’s Secretly Susan is experimental pop music at its weirdest, but also at its best.