For those who are already familiar with Electrelane, London-based Verity Susman could very well be an already-known name. As the former lead singer behind the formidable experimental rock band, she is currently pursuing a solo career. She has already played a series of one-off gigs throughout the UK, France, and Germany as well as opened for Atlas Sound. Her new work features spoken word elements, visuals, and distorted computer voices. Combined with this are ideas ranging from the merging with musical instruments as part of the human body, to themes of psychedelic alienation, to the expression of female masculinity. Susman dons a 1970s-style mustache, assuming the swagger of keyboardists such as Jon Lord of Deep Purple, though her musical stylings are just as much inspired by the likes of Meredith Monk and Laurie Anderson.
Film is also a way to illustrate some of the things I’ve been thinking about recently, like how it would be if your instrument was a part of your body, which is quite a visceral thought for a wind instrument player because you are breathing in and out of something in a way that can really feel like it’s a part of you. I play the tenor saxophone which can be a really loud, angry and powerful instrument, with a massive, protruding bell end, so when you play it you can feel like you have a lot of swagger. At the same time, you put it in your mouth to play which can seem quite a submissive sexualised act, so it’s a bit of a schizophrenic instrument. I think this is interesting in terms of thinking about how we can find ways to express ourselves when our gender identity isn’t necessarily fixed or stable, the way an instrumental performance can become a form of elaborate gender performance.
An exciting and logical extension of the electronic-laced post-rock found in Electrelane, Susman has extended her range to the experimental possibilities of electronics and found sounds. At once strong and vulnerable, “To Make You Afraid” is laced with nuance, evoking awkward isolationism as well as psychedelic liberation.