Art has many faces. For Sydney based singer/songwriter Susan Muranty, this surely rings true. A highly regarded sculptor, prolific painter and musician, the multitalented artist literally got drawn into music making over night.
“I woke up one morning after a long period of personal stress – right in the middle of a relationship breakdown – and lyrics literally started falling out of my head. It really took me by surprise. Then the melodies started – I was even dreaming them! I do think I had some kind of mild musicophilia (the Oliver Sacks described acquisition of musical prowess following severe physical or psychological trauma), but I’m so glad I did … I love music and just can’t live without it.” says Susan, reminicing the day her first songs were born.
Jumping on the new passion, she soon started writing with devoted musicians remotely, travelled to Nashville and cowrote her first itunes charting hit “Some loving left to do” with Bob Britt, who is also known for being Bob Dylan´s guitarist and a Grammy winning producer. She has won multiple Awards, such as the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, UK Songwriting Contest and the Great American Song Contest.
Now, she has landed another big success, making it to Number 1 on the Australian singer/songwriter charts with her September single “Stop Time with a Kiss“.
We feel honored to be chatting with Susan about her songwriting evolution and her many creative ventures. Sit back and enjoy this special interview.
Susan, it is a pleasure having you on our blog! Big congrats on your latest release “Stop Time with a Kiss”, a positive, life affirming tune with a unique country flavor. Tell us a bit about the song’s message and the inspiration that led to it, would you?
Thanks so much!!!! It’s an absolute delight to be here. Stop Time With A Kiss is a playful little song about taking the time to “breathe in and let go” and embrace the beauty and spontaneity of the moment. It’s also about seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. A waltz round the living room with the right person is every bit as amazing as Cinderella going to the ball. It’s all a question of how you look at it. As the second verse says, “we’ve got a blanket and a billion stars/two runaway hearts” and that’s all you need to lose yourself in the happiness of the moment and rediscover the meaning of love, the universe and everything.
That´s beautiful! Tell us, would you consider songwriting a necessity? What does it mean to you to express emotions through songs?
Absolutely!!! I really relate to the character of Danny in Netflix’s Ted Lasso who runs onto the field with such joy yelling “football is life!” I think we all feel like that about our favourite passion. For me, “songwriting is life!” especially when I can sing my own songs and interpret them artistically. There’s literally nothing I love more.
Who are some artists that have inspired you in the past and present and what do you love about their music?
All the greats get me – I love every single one of them. Patsy Cline’s Crazy to me is just perfection and so is Whitney’s I Will Always Love You – I die a little more in the arms of that song every time I listen to it. I love Beyonce and Judy Garland and Stevie Nicks too. I love the real rock voices too – Dave Grohl and Kurt Cobain, Bruce Springsteen, Freddy Mercury, Michael Hutchence, – they all have their own amazing sound and passion. I love hearing truth in a voice. Anything else is tricks and technique and a lost opportunity to connect with people’s souls. I don’t like flashy voices. I love artistry. It lasts forever. And I’m a forever kind of girl when it comes to music.
Definitely agree regarding truth in a voice! You´ve collaborates on more than one song with guitarist and Grammy winnig producer “Bob Britt”. What have you learned from working with someone as experienced as him?
I think the main thing is just to be free and let go – enjoy the creative process and let your skills and talent take over. But also to be ready for that amazing moment. Greatness happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Oh yes! Even Seneca knew that! You describe your beginning in music as some sort of “falling into it over night”. Do you think songwriting – to cut through – requires musical education or do you think intuition can be enough to create a great song? Have you started to dig into music theory and learning new skills since starting out?
I’ve got to say I’ve been completely dyslexic when it comes to my approach to music – I’ve done it all backwards. But I’ve also made a project of throwing myself into musical theory in recent years and absolutely loving it. I can play the piano now and I never thought I’d be able to – and it’s just so magical finding this late-blossoming passion for it! Beautiful to be studying keys and harmonies and chord progressions and understanding what it means – it’s like making a musical drawing, a treasure map of sound and possibility.
For me, lyrics were the key. I was very lucky – and very unusual – in that I waltzed into the musical world armed with the power of words from the beginning … I’d been honing my writing skills for years in all kinds of tedious and prosaic ways in the finance and social services industries. And I also had a Master of Philosophy in Literature so I knew the difference between great and ordinary writing. I could analyze it in a flash and see where it was working and why it wasn’t and nail a story in a sentence when I had to. So I didn’t come to it completely empty handed. That’s my gift to the musical process – that I can play my lyrical skills like a guitar and be incredibly fast-fingered when I have to be.
Isn´t it lovely when all the dots connect and you find your calling! Your beautiful singing voice stands out as well. Has singing always come easy to you? And were you confident from the start to take on the hat of a performing artist hat, next to being the writer of songs?
Thank-you!!! Singing for me, in a natural sense, goes as far back as I can remember. I sang everywhere all the time from the minute I could speak and just loved it – but never for an audience or not, at least, as a solo singer. The truth is I didn’t have a lot of self confidence. But when I started writing songs and really wanting to birth them in the studio as pieces of art I found that other singers weren’t able to express them in the way that I wanted. Their voices were extraordinary and far more amazing than mine but there was something missing in their interpretation, something indefinable and essential. And I think it was as simple as the fact that they hadn’t lived it, whereas I had.
I came to see that in order to be authentic, the artistic process for me couldn’t just end with the writing. And in a strange but very true way, it became a matter of defending my song-babies against misrepresentation – and in some cases outright distortion and mutilation. That quickly killed off any residual lack of self confidence on my part!! The song-mother rose up in me to protect my art and that was that. Recording and then presenting my writing to the world is a whole other area of creativity and I absolutely love it.
That resonates so much with you! As a songwriter myself I also know which songs have to come on “my albums” and which are better left in the hands of another singer that might be able to add something I cannot. You live in Australia, but regularly travel to Nashville. What makes Nashville such a special place for musicians in your opinion?
Nashville just has a magic to it that is like no other – it is Music City after all. And a true musical Mecca. There’s so much history there but the standards of musical excellence are off the Richter scale. Everyone’s an absolute genius and it lifts your game. And everyone in Nashville just adores music. The sheer love just in the country genre alone is incredible. Great country musicians become almost like family members to anyone who listens to and loves them in Music City.
How has the global pandemic affected your art-making, both musically and with regard to your visual art? Do you think the collective “break” from life has had an impact on your creativity as well?
For me, the pandemic has been a creative godsend, even though I wouldn’t have wished it on anyone for anything on earth – I always planned to do what I’m doing now in musical terms, but I’ve been very lucky because my songs have synched with the times. I’ve had this longing for people to realise there’s more to life than spinning round going faster and faster until we all fall off the edge of the world. We have to take the time to find the peace in our hearts – to meditate as a species – and we’ve been given that priceless opportunity. I think the pandemic has been all about slowing down and listening to our own and each others’ natural rhythm and music’s really been an important part of that for me.
You were quoted as saying that singing your thoughts out loud is a special kind of magic – a cry to the universe. You added that a lyric if well written is like a beautiful spell, an incantation or a prayer.” Would you say you are a spiritual person and if so, does art and spirituality intertwine in your opinion?
Definitely. I really found my spiritual persona through art and music – there are times when you’re creating when it literally feels like it’s flowing from your fingertips. I try to put the light in everything I do – a bit like a positive horcrux for anyone who’s read Harry Potter!! And I believe absolutely in the healing power of beauty. To fill your eyes or ears or lips or heart with great art is soul medicine of the most amazing kind. And there is responsibility in that. I try put out good things into the world.
Right on! Speaking of responsibility, if you had only one song left to share with the world, what could be the title or theme?
Stop Time With A Kiss – of course lol!!! But not just because it’s my song – I’d be granting every listener a little doorway into their own version of eternity if they were up for the real meaning of the message and let themselves just be swept along by it. You can live more in a few seconds of seeing – or giving – a true-hearted smile than some people experience in a lifetime. Find your own personal heaven in the joy and beauty of everyday experience, wherever it, is and you just might find happiness too.
Last but not least, what would you share with other songwriters who are starting out, that you wish you had known sooner?
Be brave – and just go for it!!! It’s never too late or too early to do what you love. Believe – and everything else will follow. And learn everything you can from everybody you possibly can!!!! And maybe help them learn a little from you too. We all have something special and unique and unrepeatable to give to the world – and the sooner we get started sharing those beautiful gifts with each other, the sooner Planet Earth will become a better place to live in.
Love that! Thank you so much for this interview and your precious time, Susan! All the very best to you!
You are so very welcome!!! I think maybe we’ve managed to Stop Time with the “Kiss” of musical contemplation. Thank-you for the opportunity to rave on about the things I love so passionately 🙂
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