Suzanne Sheer Makes Music For "All the Bad Bitches With a Little Bit of Trauma" [Q&A]

With a voice that cuts through the noise, Pittsburgh native Suzanne Sheer is R&B’s next up, and it’s been a long time coming.

Citing influences from Fleetwood Mac and Amy Winehouse, Sheer’s sound is a love letter to every iteration of soul. She tells stories of love and heartbreak, loss of both the tangible and intangible, and she does so with a growl. There’s a palpable presence of Divine Goddesshood that spirals through her music, a woman deeply rooted in her sense of sensuality and no shame in weaponizing it.

Pouring late-night studio sessions, hometown shows, and sheer grind into her career, she’s built from the ground up and is ready to collect her dues. Following the release of her “Two Graves” visual, we sat down with the soul songstress to talk social media, alchemizing anger, and the importance of female friendships.

OnesToWatch: As a woman with so much prowess, your confidence is the most magnetizing thing about you. How do you tend to your Divine Feminine?

Suzanne Sheer: I was talking to a friend who just turned 25 and she was talking about feeling kind of lost as a woman and I was like “Oh wait until you hit that Saturn return girl.” There’s something that happened at the end of my 20s and early 30s where as a woman and artist I was aware of what I felt and why I felt it. Even in my older videos, you can see such a difference in not just my physical confidence but in who I am. Age has had so much to do with that, as well as the people I’ve been lucky enough to have around me. They pour so much love into me that even on my worst days it’s impossible not to feel good. We were shooting a video and everyone on set was male except me and they were just gassing me up the way my girlfriends would. I feel really lucky, I’m fortunate to have people pour into me who make me want to pour into myself.

With so many people recently discovering you through social media, is it difficult as an artist to navigate those platforms in a way that feels authentic?

Since it became apparent that in order to have an artist’s career, or any job it seems like, you have to be some sort of influencer, I went through a hard and dark time finding it so uninspiring. It didn’t feel like art, it didn’t feel like me. It made me not want to do it anymore and to an extent I still feel that way. I’ve just been trying to change my mindset to view it as a beautiful tool. It’s amazing that anybody has this free platform where they can share their art and I’m really trying to stay in that way of thinking. The times that it feels the yuckiest is when we work so hard on a new song or visual and we’re so excited about it and then it seems like all that matters is if it goes viral or not. It takes away so much of the magic and creative aspect. That’s when it bums me out, but I’m trying to find the balance of appreciating it as a tool while not feeling defeated by it. It’s hard, but then you see it really pay off for people. I’ve been listening to Chappell Roan forever and then she had that one song blow up. She was gonna give music one more year or go back to school and now look at her. That’s special, that’s a beautiful thing.

Your timelessness will far surpass any need for virality. Who do you credit your sound to, who were you growing up listening to? 

I love this question. My dad was a musician, my grandmother was an opera singer, my brother is a musician and my mom’s a painter, so art and music have always been super present my entire life. With everyone in my family I was always listening to different people, my dad would play The Beatles or James Brown, Fleetwood Mac, a lot of soul singers. My brother would put me onto Radiohead and The Cure, a lot of metal. But then my mom would play Cindy Lauper and Tracy Chapman, I was getting a lot of different influences. I was in 4th grade when my brother got the Daft Punk album and I’ll never forget being in the back of my mom’s car and hearing that kind of electronic for the first time. Something really happened to me. Such a spectrum of music in my life that I’m so grateful for, classical and opera too. Having so much music around me from such a young age, no shade to any parents but play sick music for your babies as soon as you can. Right away.

Yes, shout out to parents and siblings with fly music taste! Who were the female artists you saw yourself in?

Growing up in the '90s I was a pop girly. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera obviously. I didn’t see myself in them and my music isn’t like theirs, but I remember being young and witnessing them and thinking “Nobody can fuck with these girls.” All the soul singers, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, when I started writing music Adele was blowing up and it’s the most insane compliment I get when people compare me to her. Lana Del Rey, I have an Amy Winehouse tattoo. So many female soul singers. 

All the bad bitches essentially.

All the bad bitches with a little bit of trauma.

You have a tattoo dedicated to your best friends and I think that’s amazing. What’s your take on female friendships and the societally slept-on significance of platonic love?

I just saw a video of a girl talking about how her best friend flew from London to New York for one day just to see her run a marathon and then men wonder why we want to be single! We’re so used to being loved so incredibly by our female friends and you can’t even text me back? My friendships are the most important thing in my life. I’ve somehow been so blessed my entire life to have a really close group of friends from Pittsburgh who I’ve been friends with since elementary school. They’re still my sisters even though we all live in different parts of the country. I have my two best girlfriends here who are like my partners. So many people are like “Go, go, go” in this career, but my close friends who really know me are always like “Do you need to stop? Do you need to rest? You know you can have a break when you need to.” I can’t imagine a love greater than the one my friends and I give each other. It’s so special and really magical. I owe my life to them.

Let’s talk about “Two Graves,” it’s the single putting you on so many more radars right now.

I started working on that song five or six months ago, we were in the studio and my brilliant producers were cutting up this sample and I just came up with the first line. In the original recording I start laughing after “One for you, one for your bitch” because I was like “Oh shit, I’m about to write a diss track. Am I really saying this?” I wasn’t scared, I was just like “Okay, let’s go there.” I had a lot of resentment which doesn’t feel good to carry, and often when I’m feeling that way it comes out in a sad energy but this time it came out as anger. It was fun to get rid of that through the song. When we started playing it for people, everybody we played it for was like “That’s the one!” I love all of my songs but when I listen to “Two Graves” I’m like “Okay yeah we made a GOOD song.” Like, scientifically. I feel really good about it. It’s powerful. I don’t always feel powerful so it feels good to step into that.

One of the most powerful things a woman can do is alchemize rage and reclaim her permission to be angry. I think that’s why this song is resonating with so many of us, it’s being weaponized in a way that’s still sexy. What’s next for your rollout?

We have another single that we’re dropping in July, it’s very summery and lowkey the kind of song you want to do drugs to. And then my second album is basically done so we’re hoping to drop that in the fall. I love an album, I love a body of work, but I think for artists like me who are just now getting discovered, dropping singles helps get people hungry for a project. I also have some exciting shows coming up in Philly and I’m trying to play in some other places too. I did a couple shows in New York and that was really fun. Just trying to get my music into people’s ears.

And lastly, what does little you think of your life right now?

She’d be freaking out. She’d be like “Wait, you don’t have 10 babies?” My whole life before music I was just like “I’m going to have a bunch of babies,” which I still want to do, but little me would be like “Wow, you have an amazing apartment and cool friends and live a cool life. You love people and people love you. You’re a singer!” She’d be freaking out. I love that question because I don’t think about that enough. That’s a good question to go back to when you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

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