Discover more from Pass Along Songs
IWD - Suzen Juel
“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse
Livestream for March 8th: http://22.214.171.124:8112/stream
“I should have given up but I kept listening to the other voice - that bean of light inside me - that kept saying, create, create, create.” - Suzen Juel
Suzen Juel is one of the most creative and prolific artists I know. Her work includes not only songwriting and singing, but DJing, 3D building, drawing, photography, and all manner of both traditional and digital painting as well. But the subject that really cemented our friendship, and led me to invite her to perform on March 8th., was a conversation we had about what it takes to make art. We were sitting on an old, ratty couch in the courtyard outside her virtual store. The store holds a collection of her work - everything from photographs and whimsical drawings to abstract paintings. They are quintessential Suzen - playful, painful, and delightful all at once.
Suzen and I were just beginning to get to know one another, so our questions were what you might expect. Where did you grow up? How did you get interested in music? When did you start painting? What do you do for a living? But the casual conversation quickly led to questions about what I saw in her art - the distorted lines, the raw colors that reminded me of bruises, the explosions on canvas that made me want to giggle like a five-year-old dancing in a shower of confetti.
It turns out that, like me, Suzen was actively discouraged from becoming an artist or a musician. In her stories I heard echoes of my own family - my mother telling me she wanted me to become a dentist because I was good with my hands; my father refusing to pay for college because I wanted to major in art and that would be “like flushing money down the toilet;” and my sister telling our friends that I was wasting my life trying to be a writer. The specifics of what Suzen experienced are hers to tell, but I came away from our talks knowing I’d found a co-traveler whose story and work deserves to be seen, heard, and celebrated.
How It Began
Suzen taught herself to play the piano by ear at an early age. As she puts it, “I wasn’t great, but I wasn’t terrible either.” She also found her grandfather’s handmade guitar in his attic and taught herself to play.
Despite her obvious talent and interest in both music and drawing, her family discouraged her from pursuing a career in either field. “They wanted to know what I was going to do to make a living and told me that in the real world artists and musicians don’t make money,” Suzen says.
But asking Suzen not to create was a bit like asking the sun not to rise. Despite being told she couldn’t succeed, she rebelled. “Not because I wanted to rebel, but because it was literally all I knew - a passion that was more important than money. I'd rather paint than pay bills and was always sure I’d find the money somehow.”
The result has been a life of ongoing struggle and conflict. Suzen deals with anxiety and depression on a daily basis. “I’ve felt lost and discouraged most of my life,” she says. “It's become normal for me.”
Being Suzen, however, she is quick to see the flip side of her situation, saying “it’s all got its good side. I wouldn’t be me without my music and art. I might be in a better place financially if I’d followed the herd, but I wouldn’t be me.”
Suzen first heard of Second Life in 2005 when a friend told her musicians were playing live concerts there. She created an avatar (Juel Resistance) not long after and has been singing there ever since. When asked which female musicians she admires most, she says, “I admire songwriters/performers - all the women really - who walk that fine line between creativity and ‘regular life,’ and never give up.” She is particularly fond of Lucinda Williams whose songs offer glimpses into life. “I love listening to her lyrics,” Suzen says. “She gets very personal and shares intimate things in her songs.”
Suzen will be sharing her own unique vision of life through her songs - along with some of her artwork - on March 8th. from 1:00 to 2:00 pm (PST). In the meantime, check out a small sampling of her art below and follow the links to hear her singing some of her originals.
One last thing - Suzen I’m SO glad you are YOU and had the courage to follow that light in yourself. You are a gift. Never forget it. Hugs!
Reverb Nation: https://www.reverbnation.com/suzenjuel
Juel Tones - Second Life: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1282907228413851
Live Concert - Dirty Water
P.S. If you would like to make a donation to cover the costs of hosting the event and paying these amazing musicians, you can do so here: https://paypal.me/BraidedLives?country.x=US&locale.x=en_US
Braided Lives is my project and Joanne is my given name :-)
If you are interested in being a sponsor of the event, with your name mentioned and logo displayed, please email me at JenaBall@CritterKin.com