In Pursuit of Authenticity with Musician Susannah Joffe

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In Pursuit of Authenticity with Musician Susannah Joffe

The velvet yellow couch in Susannah’s Williamsburg apartment hugs her as we seek refuge in the AC. The streets below us become alive with the type of optimism only summer can evoke as Susannah walks me down her path to music. It started her sophomore year of college when the first global pandemic of our generation sent her back to her parent’s home in Texas. Stuck in her home - and head - she was forced to face the detachment she felt from her current major. A common dilemma that welcomes distraction.

Those humid summer months were when Susannah first discovered her love for music. The guitar in the corner of her room that had become used to benign neglect acted as a catalyst. A bit detached and disheartened, she uploaded a video of her first completed song. Initially, not too worried about perception as her world had recently shrunk to the four walls of her childhood bedroom. That is until the responses began flooding in. Watching in awe as her peers responded in support of her work, Susannah couldn’t help but feel she had found her calling. Standing on foreign ground, she shakily continued down this path; the reassurance giving her the confidence to at least try.

What this introduction to Susannah might do is feed into the assumption that she was one of the lucky ones. Seemingly “falling onto” a path many spend years working towards, dreaming of. Maybe she is a bit lucky, but music isn’t just an avenue that allows her to evade the dreaded 9 to 5. It’s where she’s found peace in an otherwise deafening mindscape. As early as 7-years-old, Susannah has known the daily battles that come with OCD.

“I didn’t even know real event OCD was a thing until this year when someone explained it to me. I just remember thinking…..holy shit it finally makes sense”.

Real event OCD manifests as the fixation over real life memories and events that have already happened. Conversations turn into a torturous ping pong of alternate scenarios and what ifs.

“I remember making dinner for my family last time I was in Austin. I completely fucked up the recipe and overall the whole thing was just bad. That was four months ago and there’s still nights where I will be up till 3am thinking about it. It’s super guilt oriented for me”.
Photography by Ella Bailey @timefeeder, Makeup by Devon Kish @weatherdyke

As many who struggle with OCD understand, it can be extremely draining. Incessant thoughts and stressors force the sufferer to pull back from daily activities as their mind takes control. 

“It seems so unrelated but it plays a huge role in my songwriting. I feel so fucking guilty about every breakup I’ve ever had. I can’t stop thinking about things I could’ve done differently. I’ve found writing is a great way for me to expel some of these compulsive thoughts. The songwriting process has been incredibly therapeutic - giving purpose to something that for so long has made me feel out of control”.

Despite music providing respite for her thoughts, her authentic image had yet to shine through until now.

“Part of why I wanted to move to New York was because I felt so limited by how I could present myself in Texas. The few times I did put together outfits I was proud of, that confidence would quickly diminish as I stepped outside…people would look at me like I was fucking crazy”. 
Photography by Ella Bailey @timefeeder, Makeup by Devon Kish @weatherdyke

At her core, Susannah is a queer artist. Someone who is in pursuit of self, rather than acceptance. However, when met with the question of why she hasn’t presented herself more authentically, she seemingly grows unsure. Our conversation is thrown into a tailspin with this question and the previously relaxed nature of the room seems to have undergone a palpable shift. She fiddles with the large ring that sits on a chain around her neck as she quietly wrestles over how much she’s willing to disclose to a stranger. Much more, a stranger that’s recording her every word.

With a calm inhale, the words come to her.

“I feel like one of the biggest parts of expression, especially in the queer community, is showing people a part of you through clothing and makeup. Your only chance to give a stranger insight into who you are is by how you present yourself. First impressions are a great example of this. You have a thirty second opportunity to tell a stranger who you are.”
Photography by Ella Bailey @timefeeder, Makeup by Devon Kish @weatherdyke

Drag has historically played a huge role in the queer community. It holds importance as a means of self-expression, visibility, and artistic exploration. It contributes to a vibrant and diverse culture; challenging societal norms and celebrating multifaceted identities. This history is not lost on Susannah as she expresses a deep desire to incorporate it in her performance style. Whether it be through makeup, hair, or clothes - Susannah is looking to the art of drag for inspiration as she cements her image as a queer artist. 

“With this new EP, I’m leaning less towards a commercial pop sound and more towards deep synth. I think this new sound will help solidify the image I’m exploring. That image being a merge of my organic Texan influence with this club kid/drag/queer nightlife vibe. Although I do stand by pop as a genre….and I’m willing to die on that hill”, she says with a grin.

Susannah could be categorized as the next big indie pop artist - one who creates songs that offer easily digestible lyrics over a catchy beat. Admittedly, her current discography makes this statement entirely believable. However, it’s a statement that undermines how talented of an artist she truly is. Something Susannah herself has a tendency to do. Much like her songs, there is more brewing beneath Susannah’s surface. Pieces of herself she is only beginning to discover and, luckily for us, doing so through her music. 

Three years after releasing that first song, Susannah seems to be on the precipice of something exciting. Leaving her apartment that day, it’s clear she has only recently begun seeing her capacity within this industry. As she continues on this journey, it’s exhilarating to think of what is possible for her. 

If you were to look her up on Spotify, you’d be met with the cheeky message “I’d love to get to know you, exchange music recs, bond over our traumatic heartbreaks, etc etc”. The endearing thing about it is she’s not kidding. Susannah wants to get to know you, maybe just as much as herself. 

Photography by Ella Bailey @timefeeder, Makeup by Devon Kish @weatherdyke

Susannah’s single 'My Dog Died' is out today, July 28th. She’s also set to open for NIKI’s ‘Nicole’ tour in Austin at Moody Amphitheater on August 1st, 2023.

Connect with Susannah on: Instagram | TikTok | Twitter

Listen to her new single here | Check out her top tracks on Spotify here: