Interview With Singer Susannah Blinkoff!
We recently had the wonderful opportunity to chat with singer Susannah Blinkoff. During the interview Susannah talked about getting her start in the entertainment industry, “Far More”, musical inspirations, and more!
1. How did you get your start in the entertainment industry?
I grew up in a very musical household, my mother Carol Hall had a recording deal with Elektra Records in the ’70’s and toured with Don McLean and Kris Kristofferson, among others. She also wrote songs for “Sesame Street”, “Free to Be You & Me”, and the score for the long-running Broadway hit “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” which was later made into a movie. She had a lot of success during my childhood, so I never even considered being a songwriter, I felt like music was her thing, not mine. I didn’t even sing for almost a decade after high school. I just wanted to be an actress. I was totally focused on acting from a very young age, I actually started performing off-off-Broadway when I was in seventh grade. But later, in my 20’s, I started hearing these melodies in my head late at night, and lyrics started pouring out…and it became something I couldn’t ignore. I began writing songs and recording them, and then I was on a musical path.
2. What was your first project?
Well, my very first project was a musical comedy version of “Robin Hood” that I wrote, directed, & starred in with my best friends in the 4th grade at our school assembly. I cast the boy I had a crush on as Robin Hood and I played King John so we could have a sword fight together! I also made a lot of movies when I was a kid with my family, and wrote stories and scripts. As an adult, I I’ve released 2 EPs and 2 full-length albums of my songs — under the band names Camp Susannah, Susannah Blinkoff, and Susannah B.
3. How would you describe your music?
My latest collection “Far More” is soulful, spiritual groove. Meditative chill electronica. Kind of like Sade + Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album, as if produced by Peter Gabriel.
4. Who are your musical inspirations?
There are SO many. It’s such a fun question to ask ourselves: ”Whose music has cheered me up, made me want to dance, or sing along at the top of my lungs in the car? Which songs healed my heartbreak? Or made me want to fall in love again?” I’ve been asked this question a lot in interviews and it’s a great way to feel good. If you’re ever trying to think of something you’re grateful for, just start making a list of all the music you’ve loved in your life.
My mother was the first and probably most important musical influence. I watched her sit at the piano and play hundreds of times. Her songs are theatrical, from a specific character’s point of view. I was raised on movie musicals from the ’30’s and ’40’s and many Broadway shows. I also adore The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Carole King, Madonna, The Police, Talking Heads, Beck, & Alanis Morrisette. I basically worship at the altar of pop music. I love the idea that I can hear a brand new song on the radio that I’ve never heard before and in less than two minutes, I’m singing along with the chorus. To me, that’s total musical success. I almost always write songs by starting with a title (hook), so I’m totally into listening to the radio — I’m a big fan of Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Coldplay and Haim. Lately, one of my favorite new artists is Billie Eilish — she’s got an amazing voice. And I really admire artists who do their own unique thing like India Arie, Aimee Mann, and Ben Harper. People who don’t sound like other people. That’s kinda how I am…a little hard to categorize.
5. You’re also a screenwriter, how did you get involved with that?
I was in acting class with a woman named Kerri Green and she wanted to direct a play about teen moms, so she got me and two other women to write it. Then we wrote a screenplay version of it called “Bellyfruit” and amazingly, it got made. I wrote the opening title song for that film with Stephen Bray, who co-wrote some gigantic hits with Madonna and also the Broadway musical “The Color Purple”. It was really fantastic because Stephen is not just an incredibly nice guy, but someone I admire so much…it gave me confidence that he thought I was good enough to collaborate with.
6. What has been your favorite project to write?
A few years ago, I wrote and performed an autobiographical one-woman musical called “Daughter Of…” which was really empowering and important. It was my personal story and it took a lot of courage to be myself onstage, not playing a character. I also just love making albums. I love the details, the creative choices, the process. I hear percussion and bass lines a lot. I don’t play anything really, but I contribute by singing (“I play the voice”) and a recording studio is one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon. As a kid, my mom took me and my brother with her to work, so I took lots of naps on leather couches in recording studios. I love how comfy and private and sealed off from the world it feels. Like a musical cocoon.
7. Do you have a preference as to which field in the entertainment industry you like working in?
Writing is how I learn what I think about life. Acting is fun, but depending on the material, it can be deep or it can be shallow. Singing is pure joy, so it’s my favorite. Movies, TV, theatre…I love ’em all.
8. Can you share about your new album “Far More”?
For me, it’s special because it’s a bolder musical statement than I think I’ve made before. It’s less eclectic than my earlier albums, much more “all-one-vibe”. I love listening to music in the car (I live in L.A. after all) and one of my favorite stations is Sirius XM’s “Chill”, which is electronic, but not in a EDM kind of way, more relaxed but with a groove. So I decided to do a whole collection of songs with that vibe. Some people have told me it’s “soothing”, others have said they want listen to it while they do Pilates or Kundalini yoga. So I guess it’s relaxing & energizing at the same time, which is cool.
I created this collection as a response to what’s going on in the world these days. I want to make music that’s uplifting and positive and spiritual in a non-specific way. I like to think of myself as “Oprah-friendly” (she’s my hero!). I want to consciously offer up a hopeful message that you can sing along to and be empowered by. It seems to me that at this time in our evolution, with the world so chaotic and divided, so filled with violence and fear…we need music more than ever to help heal us. And these songs were written (or the covers were chosen) to remind us to accept where we are right now, move forward in love, and inspire us to be grateful.
9. Do you have any other upcoming projects?
I have a project I’m working on now that I hope will allow me the chance to combine everything I do — acting, writing, singing & songwriting. I also have a DJ working on some remixes of a few songs on “Far More”. And with my husband, I’m producing a series of house concerts in L.A. as fundraising events — sometimes I’ll perform my own songs, other times I do a cabaret show with a jazz band of songs written by Alec Wilder, who was an amazing composer from the ’40’s. My husband cooks delicious food, people eat & drink & listen to live music. We raise a few thousand dollars in one night and it all goes to charities, to help people in need or the earth…which at this point in my life is the best way for me to use and share my talents.
10. What are your social media accounts?
Facebook: Susannah B
my website: http://www.susannahb.com
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