Hailing from Smyrna, Delaware and now calling Brooklyn, New York home is singer-songwriter and producer Sug Daniels. Drawing upon folk, R & B and low-fi alternatives, Daniels creates a musical sound that is both nostalgic and familiar. The warm, uplifting melodies carried by the ukelele are paired with honest, personal lyrics that spread the message of hope, whilst inciting self-reflection and change. This is no different with her latest single, “Kintsugi”, which through a personal lens, speaks to the damaged relationship between America and a black woman.
Recently I spoke with Daniels about her path to pursuing music, her latest single and her goals for this year.
Kyla Pearson: For those who are unfamiliar with your music, can you tell us a bit about your path to pursuing music? What made you want to become a singer-songwriter?
Sug Daniels: Sure! My name is Sug Daniels. I’m a queer singer-songwriter and producer from Delaware. I started singing and performing as a little kid in church. My mother was a singer and that inspired me to sing and perform. I started performing original music in high school and haven’t stopped since. Writing music has always been a way to help me process my emotions and record my life. Getting on stage has always been a way to connect with the world around me.
Kyla Pearson: Your latest release, “Kintsugi” speaks to the damaged relationship America has with a black woman. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the song? Is it reflective of your own experience?
Sug Daniels: Growing up I was taught I would always be second banana. I was a woman so I would need to submit to my future husband. I also grew up in a household where terms like ‘don’t embarrass me in front of these white people’ were used commonly. As you can probably guess I had to undo years of homophobia, misogynist, and self-hating ideology before I could ever get to a place where I believed someone like me could ever dream of being a leader. I don’t feel that way anymore (thank Goddess) and feel that marginalized people should not only be looked at as equals but also as leaders. I wanted to write a song that addresses the ugliness of this country’s history at the same time allowing room for tenderness and change.
Kyla Pearson: What do you hope fans take away from the song’s message?
Sug Daniels: I hope this story leaves people, especially individuals in marginalized communities, with the feeling of hope and a better understanding of their value. This country wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for the exact individuals it seems to be obsessed with silencing. It’s so obvious and apparent that times are changing and underrepresented voices are being not only heard but pushed to the forefront and I’m happy to lend my voice to the mission of inclusivity.
Kyla Pearson: Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting/recording process that went into making the song? How did you come up with using the Japanese practice of Kintsugi as an analogy for the reparations between America and a black woman?
Sug Daniels: I usually write very quick and all at once. I had the idea for the song after playing a couple of chords that sounded a bit folky to me. Inspired by musicians and songwriters before me like Tracy Chapman and Lauryn Hill, I wanted to write something with a broader message. When I think back on the role people like me (queer, poc, female) have had in this countries history, and also what we’ve had to endure it’s easy to.
Kyla Pearson: You also recently released the live performance video for the song. Can you tell us a bit more about the vision behind it?
Sug Daniels: I am a very resourceful artist. I knew I didn’t have the budget to create some big collaborative and expressive visuals to go along with the song but I did have some time and I’m pretty creative. I sat down by the Brandywine River in a location I tend to go to often to sit with my thoughts. My current housemate helped me set up a camera and microphone and we just ran through the song. I wanted to bring the viewer into my little world. You can catch me in that exact spot whenever I need some privacy.
Kyla Pearson: With live music starting to be a reality once again, what is one venue or show you’re looking to perform at? What live shows do you have coming up that fans can catch?
Sug Daniels: I tell people all the time that I write and record for myself but I perform for other people. Every show is fun and different and stepping into a place I’ve never been before has been such a fun way to move about the world. I’m never too serious on stage either. It’s all fun and I try to create a fun and expressive atmosphere around me. I have shows coming up all the time now. Best to visit me online to find where I’ll be next.
July 24th – Theatre N/ Delaware Art Society Summer Exhibition
August 4th – Dixons Place/ HOT Festival
August 13 – Together Well/ Live Stream
August 31- Ladybug Music Festival
Kyla Pearson: What is one goal you hope to achieve by the end of the year? Do you plan on releasing new music other than “Kintsugi”?
Sug Daniels: My main goal for 2021 is just to enjoy myself, to be honest. I really had a hard time with not being able to perform in 2020 due to the pandemic. I had a total identity crisis and questioned my motives on basically every aspect of my life. I am very grateful to have a new project that’s being received with so much love, positivity, and support. I’m going to continue putting out music and creating genuine and authentic connections to those around me. My debut solo ep ‘Franklin Street’ will be out September 3rd via Weird Sister Records.
Kyla Pearson: Lastly, what is something fans may not know about you?
Sug Daniels: I’m an introvert. You will rarely catch me out at a bar or in a club. Due to the nature of the music industry, it best serves me to be friendly, open, and personable but I prefer to be in small groups and mostly alone. I genuinely love people and humanity as a whole but I require a lot of downtime in between shows and large gatherings to feel mentally well. I’ve started to say no to friends and family when I knew I needed a mental break. It took me a while to accept and love this part of myself but I know isolating and rejuvenating is a part of my self-care routine.
FB: @Sug Daniels
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Apple Music: Sug Daniels
Amazon Music: Sug Daniels
Presse, Ken. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Jul 18 2021.
Unknown.“Featured: singer-songwriter and producer Sug Daniels”. Photo courtesy of Mae Krell. Accessed Jul 18 2021.
Unknown.“Official cover art for Sug Daniels’ latest single, ‘Kintsugi’ ”. Photo courtesy of Mae Krell. Accessed Jul 18 2021.