• Steven Mainzer

NMV Sit Down: Sundé

Chicago bound, Congo Native, Sundé discusses dropping her newest project, capturing emotion via sound, and examining the differences between African and American cultures.

I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with the young female talent as she follows her journey toward making music and capturing her unique experiences along the way.

SM: Steven Mainzer


*Editor's note: This interview took place before the release of broken {en}glish.*

SM: We have so much to discuss I don't even know where to begin. How are you doing?

Sundé: I'm well, for the most part I am well.

SM: What have you been working on as of late?

Sundé: Well, I am always working on new stuff. There is not a set project that I am working on now, besides broken {en}glish which is already done. I am working on music at all times, though. There are song ready to go, but it is not allocated to a certain project. There is music ready to go, there are singles that will be coming up soon. In terms of broken {en}glish, that is all wrapped up ready to go. We have been working on that for about a year now. "Unconditional Prime" was one of the first songs, which was originally not slated to be for an album.

SM: Can you talk about your upbringing and how it has influenced you musically? I know broken {en}glish has some underlying meaning there.

Sundé: There are a lot of different underlying meanings. If we are just talking musically, it is because of the way words are structured and what not. I think it was pretty cool that the Scrabble board was the cover art, because that is a symbolic way to represent words coming together and being scrambled at the same time. Musically, that is the connection to broken {en}glish.

With regards to my upbringing, not only just broken {en}glish but with every song I have ever done plays a factor into the music that I do. I'm still in the process of upbringing and what not, so when I say that, I mean when I was in middle school/ past three years and what not. Every year has been a different experience, really every day. I am compelled to write about them. Broken {en}glish has a lot of different experiences ranging from middle school to the past three years.

SM: What is a goal of yours for this year?

Sundé: We have about 4 more months. The goal of mine for this year, if we are talking musically, I would love for my music to be heard and loved by more people. Coming into next year, I hope to be expecting some dope performances.

SM: Who were some of your influences growing up? Musically or non-musically.

Sundé: Some of my influences, definitely Amy Winehouse. Elle Varner. Beyoncé, Keaton Henson. Also, my local friends that I was doing house shows with. Local, open mics that I went to and what not. The sounds that I heard from those people were all influences as well.

SM: Being a refugee from Congo, coming to the US, how can you describe the differences between cultures of the Central/ more Eastern World vs the Western World?

Sundé: I don't remember too much, because I came here at a pretty young age, I did have a lot of that culture coming up though. I still speak Lingala and what not. My mom is still deeply immersed in her African culture as well. That was something that she naturally implemented in us too. Food is the main one I can go to easily. How children are raised and what not. There is a long list but I'll just go with those two as the main points, because there are a lot of commonalities as well.

SM: What would say are commonalities?

Sundé: The universal commonality of wanting to get have a good time and coming together for parties, and wanting a good life for yourself and your family.

SM: What are you listening to now?

Sundé: I am on SoundCloud a lot, and I try to find remixes of popular songs with songs that I know very well, and try to find remixes to those different beats and what not. A lot of mainstream music, but just remixed.

SM: What have you learned this quarantine?

Sundé: I have been working out more, how much I love hanging out with my friends, how much I miss hanging out with my friends. I am pretty much a loner, I like being by myself a lot, but this quarantine has also highlighted the fact that I want to hang out with this person but I can't right now.

SM: What is the worst part of quarantine?

Sundé: Worst part of quarantine is wanting to do things and not being able to do it. Wanting to go to a certain restaurant spontaneously like you would before, then realizing they have different hours now. That is just an example, but if I could put an umbrella over all of it, I would say the limited freedoms from before.

SM: What is a dream collaboration of yours?

Sundé: I would say A$AP Rocky, I would say H.E.R., John Legend, SZA, Dominic Spike, Keaton Henson, Gunna, Kodie Shane, there is a lot, Earl Sweatshirt.

SM: You have a unique sound, how would you describe your sound musically speaking?

Sundé: I'll call it Raw at most times. Because, Raw in a way of no preservatives, I say that at most times, because there are some times, that I am writing in a way of this how I think it would feel in this experience, when I am writing from my own personal experience, either way, I just try to make it as raw as possible, precise to the emotion as possible, that's why it's hard for me to pinpoint a genre, but I would say I try to get precise to the emotion.

SM: How do you capture emotions via sound?

Sundé: The way that I do it, if it's my own life, it is kind of easy, I can just say what I feel on the music, if I am taking away lyrics, talking about singing, notes and what not, that's feelings as well for me too. It is hard to describe, just try to get into the emotion of it and let whatever comes out really. That is how I pinpoint the emotions. Sometimes I try to put myself in a scenario. Trying to pinpoint that emotion within myself and singing it.

SM: What do you think your best at?

Sundé: I'm best at being myself, my be a little cliché, but I am best at being myself and having my own perspective, I am really good at identifying my emotions and what not. I am best at figuring out myself and what is going on with me at that moment.

SM: Are there some of your favorite things to do away from music?

Sundé: Well singing is one of my favorite things to do, when I sing or when I let myself sing, after I am done singing I have no worries afterwards. I really just let myself sing, I feel really clear minded. I also really like to take a walk, I can walk for a whole day, then take a rest somewhere, then keep walking. I guess that would be my favorite thing aside from music. I am a very artistic person, but I will definitely go for a walk, because whenever I am feeling in a funk that is always a cool remedy for me.

SM: What motivates you?

Sundé: My future because everything today goes into that, wanting to feel better as life goes on.

SM: What are you most looking forward to next year?

Sundé: I am looking forward to amazing performances, different partnerships, everything that has been stagnant in my life, personal and with music. I am excited about next year. I am pretty optimistic, I am hoping things continue to get better and better. Positive momentum.

SM: Can you spoil any special plans after your broken {en}glish project?

Sundé: We do have some music videos coming out from the project, excited about that. I am not really use to people directing the videos, I am not use to them in general, I am excited because the directors are going full on, and I am going to be seeing what they have in store for me too, I am excited for that. Music videos are something that are coming out this year as well.

SM: You have been through a cool experience considering your background, and now pursuing music independently in the states, what is some advice you would give to up and coming artists?

Sundé: If you want something, then you can have it. I know it kind of cliché to say dreams come true, but dreams do come true if you let them. Keep perfecting your craft. That's what I would say. Keep perfecting your craft and stay in your lane in a way of, don't worry about what everyone else is doing, and one day you will look around and things will be pretty dope.

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