NORMAL PEOPLE - LUCY SUGERMAN

Interview and Intro by Carolina Pasini | Photos by Cassie Abraham

Lucy Sugerman is a name that resonates with heartfelt lyrics and a voice that echoes the depth of personal stories. At just 22, this Canberra-born artist has already carved a niche in the Australian music scene with her soul-stirring pop anthems. Lucy's journey from a folk-festival child to a standout performer on national television and beyond showcases her unwavering commitment to her craft and the unique path she's chosen in the music industry. With influences ranging from Taylor Swift to Kendrick Lamar, her music is a blend of relatable tales, emotive songwriting, and catchy tunes that speak to the experiences of growing up, love, and self-discovery.

We caught up with Lucy to peel back the layers of her artistic journey, exploring the inspirations behind her songwriting, the challenges of navigating the music industry and her exciting projects on a new genre. 

CP | We have been friends for a long time, but let’s start with a quick intro for any new comers.

LS | I’m Lucy Sugerman, I’m a 22 year old artist and songwriter from the nation’s capital (yes, very much not just public servants here). I love listening to music, writing music, seeing music, researching music and talking about music. But, when I am not doing things to-do music, I enjoy going out to eat with my friends, potluck dinners with my friends, sitting in the sun, dabbling (badly) at muay thai, reading, prayer, meditation and hanging out with my fam. I also ADORE travelling. And naps. And Heaps Normal #spon (but for real).

CP | You started your career at a really young age. How was it like discovering the world through music?

LS | I feel really blessed to have found my passion so early. I’ve spent over half my life now singing and writing songs, in many different capacities and environments. It meant I’ve had some pretty out-of-the-ordinary experiences and gotten to meet people of all ages, walks of life and backgrounds by connecting through music. I guess it’s just a surreal and cool feeling to have over 10 years of stuff to look back on, but still being so early-career and life. Still much more to discover.

CP | Who are some of the artists that inspire your current songwriting? 

LS | Hate to have a stock-standard answer - but it was truly Taylor Swift who inspired me to start writing songs when I first heard Love Story in 2009. Her albums and career have consistently inspired me ever since. Miss Swift has mastered the art of staying universal in her songwriting, but still including personal anecdotes in a way that audiences feel so connected to her and her stories. It was surreal being at the Eras Tour as a 22 year old, screaming the lyrics to ‘22’ having been a long-term fan for over half my life. I remember that song coming out and thinking: wow, I wonder if 22 is really going to feel like a movie the way that song sounds. 

Outside of Taylor, my biggest lifelong songwriting inspirations are Rodriguez (Rest in Peace), Carole King, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Maisie Peters, Dave Le’aupepe of Gang of Youths, the list goes on. That’s just the people that have a direct influence on my style. While I am not writing anything remotely close to what Kendrick Lamar does, he gets a special mention too.

CP | Creating songs about your past is known to be a healing process but how do you feel about people relating to it on a personal level to the lyrics you’ve written?

LS | That’s why we do it, hey! I cannot stress enough how much I ADORE hearing people’s personal stories of how they’ve connected to a song. I think it’s because I have that feeling about so many albums and songs by artists I love, and I feel those connections very deeply. It’s really cool when songs that once were private and personal to you take on new meanings in others’ lives - whether it was soundtracking the bus ride to school in the morning or listening to it a lot on your post-breakup backpacking trip to Spain. 

CP | Is there a specific genre you’d like to try next?

LS | Funny you say that - this feels like a fun place to say it publicly for the first time: I have actually started writing folk music again. Long before I started releasing music commercially under Lucy Sugerman, I was a folk-festival child. Mum and dad would take me to the National Folk Festival every year, and it was where I first started busking and played my first stage show. The new folk Sugerman is a little more alt-pop-folk, but it’s been a really special opportunity to hone into lyrics and storytelling more, with more sparse production. I also think it’s a more effective space (personally) for songwriting outside of romance; and I find it easier to communicate ideas about the world, social issues, complex-love etc.,

CP | We know how brutal it is out there for young musicians. What would be your number one tip for those starting off their music journey?

LS |Remember that it is a dynamic, ever-changing industry and there’s no one foolproof method or path. As such, you have to remind yourself that it’s about paving your own way and your path is always going to look different from others. I often forget to remind myself of this! Also - networking is key, find mentors, and find your people. It’s pretty cooked out here industry-wise, but music is truly the best thing in the world. That’s why we are still all kicking about.

CP | Have you had any fun interactions with fans that you’d like to share? 

LS | My favourite interactions are meeting parents who tell me ‘my daughter or son loves your music’. Also, there’s a sweet mother and daughter duo who always come to my all-ages shows in Canberra and I love seeing them and saying hi. To be honest, it’s just really crazy that people are out there listening to it, I think it’s very easy to get caught up in your own life and industry things - playlist-this, contract-that - and then I’ll have someone say they loved a song and it’s like. YES. This is what matters!

CP |Tell us about any of those ‘pinch me’ moments you had throughout your career.

LS |You know it’s interesting, I think it’s been a really slow-burn and I’m still pretty far from where I think I’d like to be music-career wise. A lot of the pinch-me moments have been really sweet, long-term feelings like - wow, I’m now friends with XYZ musician I admire and we hang-out and talking about songwriting. For example, Gretta Ray has been an artist whose work I have loved for so long since I first heard her song Drive when I was 15. Every one of her records has soundtracked a different part of my life, and her dedication to artistry and her wisdom and work-ethic never ceases to inspire me.  Now we get coffees, talk about world issues and life, and I’m opening a show for her later this month. I think moments like that are very special.

CP | Is there something you wish was more normal in the music industry?

LS |I wish we didn’t think of music as being pretty much free. Normalise paying artists and creatives fairly. The model is so broken, I struggle to see ways it can practically be fixed. 

Particularly for songwriters. However, it’s been good to see more conversations between artists and industry workers about it. Give songwriters master points!

CP |You’re pretty ingrained in the Ngunnawal/Canberra music scene and radio these days. Who should we keep an ear out for coming from the ACT? 

LS |SO GLAD YOU ASKED. I could rattle off so many names but I’ll try to keep it brief. Look out for Jett Blyton - he’s only 17, and has the pop songwriting chops of someone fresh onto the Billboard Charts and major tenacity and vision. Few other locals I’ve been loving recently have been Tivien, Citizen Kay, ARCHIE, Artist Running Club and of course Genesis Owusu & Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers.

CP | What’s next for Lucy Sugerman? 

LS | Survive university, figure out how to make a bit more money off the fun bits of music so I can spend more time on it, and write my debut album. Hopefully as much international travel as possible, playing more shows, connecting with people, and having more potluck dinners with my friends. 

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