Language, connection and worship: a chat with spacey lover SUMI

Not long ago we came across Spacey Love from SUMI, a cosmic jingle from the NYC-based artist and the first official release of her dance pop project.

It was a jam for sure, and we had to know where it came from. Eager to find out more about her work in the big apple, we caught up with the artist for a chat.

sumi spacey love

What’s the difference between songwriting in Japanese in English? NYC-based globetrotter and cosmic pop artist SUMI has your answer.

HAPPY: Hey Sumi, how are things? What are you up to at the moment?

SUMI: Hello! I am preparing upcoming releases now so I’ve been busy lately. Thank you for having me here!

HAPPY: Anytime. Really digging Spacey Love, who did you work with on the release?

SUMI: Thank you! I worked with my producer, Brian Lindgren and co-writer, Billy Seidman. Billy actually teaches songwriting, and has taught many artists including Bebe Rexha and Rachel Platten. Mixing is done by Pablo San Martin from France and Chile. We all live in NY. Though we all have different backgrounds, it is made in NY 100%!

HAPPY: Tell me a little about what the song is about – what makes love spacey?

SUMI: Connection and worship. “Spacey” comes from the feeling when you are connected to something you love or worship. It could be your passion or belief. You know it does not happen so often. That is why when you are connected, it is powerful to feel this way and makes you want it more. And to be connected, you have to be dedicated. This kind of dedication makes spacey love. It saves and makes you keep going in life. I wanted to celebrate this kind of life and encourage everybody to have their own “spacey love”.

HAPPY: Why did you start writing music and produce music in NY?

SUMI: I grew up playing the piano and flute in Japan but I had never written pop songs. I stopped playing music for a while after I moved to the US (Buffalo, NY) but then after moved to NYC, I started to be surrounded by music again. There are plenty of different kinds of music and concert venues here in NYC. You can even find music on the street and subway. NYC offers a diversity of cultures, and people are proud of their own cultures. I love it. It is a cliche to say but it is true that music is the universal language. I have seen music make people unite and share emotions and experiences beyond different cultures here as we are all humans. I found it very beautiful and wanted to do the same thing. Also, it is ok to be different and build up your own culture and identity here. It is challenging but I cannot get enough when people enjoy my music beyond cultures.

HAPPY: How do you start writing songs, what is the process?

SUMI: I usually have the song concepts first, then dig into synth and chords. After that, I sing along with chords to make melodies. That’s the rough draft of the song. Lyrics is very important to shape up the concept along with melodies so I spend a time more on this. Sometimes tracks come first then I get the song concept. Spacey Love was one of them.

HAPPY: What did the song teach you about your processes, and songwriting in general?

SUMI: I think this song taught me not to be afraid of being honest and wild about the desire in the most personal space. Most importantly, mix and integrate the song concept through lyrics, melody –  every single sound I hear in the track took me a time to put together. It is complex but there are meanings behind. Brian played the track for me first, and I immediately loved it. The track took me to the journey where I can find the desire and even hope. I learned to let the sound discover the inspiration. I usually start with the song concept then discover the sound. But for Spacey Love, it was the other way around. I trusted my intuition, how I felt about the track. Vocally, it was challenging as I wanted to be wild and provocative yet sacred. All these elements came together in the song.

HAPPY: What differences do you notice writing music in Japanese and English?

SUMI: I personally think writing music in English gets more complex than Japanese. I am not saying that writing music in Japanese is easier, it is because it can be more playful to write in English like adding counter-melody simultaneously with the lead melody and playing around with vowels and consonants to make melodies. I think this could be one of the reasons English is the major language to sing all over the world. I have to be careful when I write music in English to make melody because Japanese language sounds a lot more clear than English so the melody has to sound more smoother.

HAPPY: You’ve been away for a while so I have to ask, is there more music in the works? A bigger release perhaps?

SUMI: Yes, I am planning to release a couple of more songs soon this summer to fall and continue to write as I have ideas for new songs! Brainstorming now.

HAPPY: What else is coming up for Sumi?

SUMI: I have to hit the road because it is about time!

HAPPY: Thanks for the chat!

SUMI: Thank you, Domo Arigato!


Spacey Love is out now.