The Extended Interview: Ady Suleiman talks writing and heritage

Ady Suleiman talks about his upcoming album, his thoughts on ghostwriting and his heritage.

In a previous interview, you said you like your music to be yours and you’re not too keen on features apart from when ‘What’s The Score’ happened with Joey Bada$$. Are there any features on this album? 

I mean there’s potentially something in the works but again I’ve never focused my campaign on features or collaborations. I am quite possessive of my stuff, and I do not want to just put someone there because they’ve got a name.

“There’s one person I’ve got in mind that I would love to get on the record, and there is probably about two songs they could jump on”

I’m sure there’s a lot of people who could mash up my tunes but I feel like because a lot of my songs are so personal, and I’ve written all the verses, to get a feature now I would have to take a verse out and put those on.

But, saying that… there is one person I’ve got in mind that I would love to get on the record and there is probably about two songs they could jump on… but who knows? There’s nothing in the pipelines at the moment but it’s just in my head there is someone that I would definitely want to get on there.

You’re not gonna give me a name, are you?

Nah nah nah nah! It’s gonna be bad if it doesn’t come through, do you know what I mean? Like “ADY SAYS BLAH BLAH IS GETTING ON THE ALBUM”, and then it comes out. You can imagine people chasing, imagining like Beyonce and Jay-Z like “you’re gonna be on the Ady Suleiman album?!”, and then it turns out to be someone else and they’re like “Who the fuck is that?”

I guess you’d classify yourself as a singer-songwriter; you have a lot of control in your songs. With bigger artists like Drake and Beyonce dropping this year when you look at the writing credits, there’s a lot of people credited for writing the songs. As you get bigger would you ever consider handing over that responsibility to other ghostwriters?

It’s a tricky question, because I think inherently you would because you’d have so much more workload… It is difficult; writing is not easy in my opinion. It comes and it goes, and it’s so random. You can’t wake up at 9 in the morning and then finish at 5 and be like I’ve written a song in that time… Well, you could but it’s not necessarily gonna be that good.

Sometimes songs just come to you at random times, or whenever, so you’ve just gotta capture it while you feel creative. So I could imagine with them being so busy, it’s a lot easier to have people help them with the creative process. Mainly it’s more a time thing , to help them scale down the time it’s gonna take because when you’re at that level the demand for you is so high that you can’t wait.

Yeah, people often say like your debut album is the work of all of your life.

 Yeah, exactly and you’ve had so long to write and on the second album I won’t have that much time. I think you always have to stay ahead of the game. I think people are always constantly worrying.

I’ve already got tunes that are written that I’m ready to put out. I’m always writing tunes that can always fit on the project you’re working on at the moment, so you kind of store them up and hopefully revisit them later on.

I do get frustrated with people that don’t write their own stuff because mainly for me it is so difficult.

It’s not fair!

Yeah! It pisses me off because, if I had a ghost writer like Drake who could just write shit for me, and it sounded sick, I would be like yeah!

At the same time, I am always gonna write. To be fair to Drake and Beyonce, they’re obviously incredible writers; Drake can obviously write bars and I am sure Beyonce is more than capable of writing a song, it’s just to do things on demand at such a high level and put such amazing things out, I can understand why people get a team of people to help them out.

Would I ever do that? Who knows? It is difficult to say because I haven’t found the right people to do that with. If i found sick people and some of my mates were like sick at giving me lyrics I’d be like yeah fuck it let’s do it!

At the moment, writing for me is such an exclusive thing. I like to do it by myself. I need to be alone so I can get into the headspace to write the tune and that’s just me. Like in co-writes, they’re good but it’s difficult to get you across.

So I think when you’re putting in someone else’s ideas, you have to make sure they’re sick, and play into you because it’s going under your name. If they’re not really you or doing what you want to do then I can’t ever really see me doing a co-write.

So you’re signed to Sony what’s it like? Is it a family feel? Or is it a case of I wanna do this and they give you the funds?

Yeah, I’m never gonna slag off major labels too much because they’ve done so much for me. It’s a blessing for me to wake up every day and be able to do music, and look forward to doing music every day. If I have an idea they can make that come to life… from a financial perspective, I’m skint. If I have got a mad idea for a video, I want to work with the top people and make the best products, unless you’ve already got a creative team of people like your mates that aren’t gonna charge you too much.

Certain people are going to charge you grands and grands of money for stuff. To get those people, you don’t have that in the bank. From that side of things, I could never really slag them off. Obviously, there is going to be the politics. At the same time, I probably wouldn’t change it because I have been very fortunate.

So you were talking about videos and bringing your ideas to life. Your recent video for ‘Running Away’, was it filmed in Tanzania? 

No, it was filmed in Jamaica. Close though, we did try to go to Tanzania, but [with] Tanzania’s video production companies over there, it was kind of difficult to get what we wanted.

Hopefully, I’ll definitely go to Tanzania, if not for this album then another one, because that is like home. It is mad, because it is obviously a big part of my music and I named my label after it.

I set up my own label and named it after Pemba, which is the island my Dad grew up on, close to Zanzibar. Half of my family live over there, and that’s in my blood.

It comes across in my music, because my music isn’t strictly UK; it definitely has a worldly feel to it. It is a world I know very little about, so I would love to go over there and spend some time and just delve into kind of the roots of where I’m from. I’m sure that’ll be very fruitful in terms of being creative and making music.

So albums coming, how many tracks? Do you know yet? 

I don’t know. At the moment you’re looking at 12 tracks. I’ll crack more on there but at the same time, I just want to make sure everything going out is going to be done right.

So you say it’s 80% done, when can we hear a release date do you reckon?

 The main thing for me now is just to finish the record and start putting music out. If it takes longer for things to kind of heat up and pop then I might not be in such a rush to put it out.

For me it’s just important to get it done; as soon as it’s out of the way I can start going on tour, start releasing new music, start going and playing things, sessions, radios, see the world a bit and hopefully build some hype. Fingers crossed but it’s all up in the air you know. I think the main thing is just to finish it.

Catch exclusive Q&As from this interview in our free magazine around campus.


Joshua Ogunmokun

Image courtesy of The Artist

Follow Impact Music on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter



Leave a Reply