Q&A with multi-talented master SULI BREAKS

We caught up with London-based poet, storyteller, creative writer and spoken word artist SULI BREAKS about his debut EP Synthetic Heartbreak, working with Faithless, and what comes next with in his music career. SULI BREAKS has received high acclaim from the likes of BBC, Huffington Post, Washington Post, TED Global, The Guardian, The Independent,  Worldstarhiphop, Genius and many more. He’s a revered poet and speaker whose talents talents drew the attention of Grammy Award Winning Rollo Armstrong and Sister Bliss from Faithless, where he featured on a number of their recent releases (gaining over 15 million streams). With Synthetic Heartbreak, he delves into techno-inspired beats infused with heartfelt narratives and bars with his thought-provoking lyrics. 


Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

For me, the arts are all about expression. I have always been about expression. I studied law in university, and one of the things I didn’t like about it was how restrictive it was. In contrast, when it came to the arts, there was room to leverage and make your own decisions and create your own worlds. For context, I wanted to study English literature, which is also one of the areas that provides that expressive freedom.


Which track off your upcoming EP, Synthetic Heartbreak, holds the most meaning for you personally and why?

‘Empty Me’ .That was the first one we recorded, and it was the first one that gave us confidence in the sound we were trying to create. It was the foundation of the building blocks of the world we wanted to build upon. Without the foundation, we didn’t know if it was even possible to build a house. It was like finding our way through the weeds, and it was dope.


Tell us a little bit about how your musical relationship with producer M4L4Y4 blossomed.

We go way back. He’s produced under many pseudonyms. We’ve been working together since university days; he even recorded the vocals for the dorm room EP. It’s crazy that after over a decade, we’ve figured out a sound and approach. We’ve experimented over the years, but now we’ve reached a point that allows both of us to shine and create a sound that can reach different demographics and expand the audience who connect with our work. 


Did you always make music, or was it mostly writing poetry in the beginning?

I don’t make music. To this day, I won’t say I make music. I am a writer, and I write words, and the music finds me. I never search for the music; the words go out there, and the music finds it, and I like that. I feel it’s the same with videos. I write the words, and the videos find their way through. Even as a content creator, it’s always about the words. It starts with the words and a story, and sometimes that story turns into music, sometimes into a video, or even a live performance. I like the organic relationship between the two.


What was it like working with legendary dance icons Faithless?

There’s a story here, and it’s a crazy one. I was sitting down with M4L4Y4 a while ago, and we were talking about making music in a different vein combined with poetry. Faithless was actually one of the references we used. We thought if we could make stuff like them, that would be great. We toyed with the ideas for ages! Then, somehow, I got an email inviting me to meet Faithless and see what they were working on. You couldn’t have planned this better; you couldn’t have written a better script. So, I always went into every session with enthusiasm and gratitude because this is what we were trying to do, and it manifested even better than we thought.


What are you most excited about for this next chapter in your career?

The live show. Just to see what this will look like live is what excites me. I am a live performer by day. Just me, the microphone, the words, and the people, and now combining this new element. I am excited to reach audiences that I never thought I would reach and never catered towards. I am interested to see what that experience will be like. It’s going to be a very cool experience.


Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

My relationship with the fans when I am on stage is always a conversation. For me, everything’s a conversation. I am speaking, and you are reacting to it. I don’t come on stage to just be myself, and it’s become harder as well. As you start to create more musical elements, more elements exist on their own, and other elements start to distract you. You start to worry if you would lose that relationship. I guess I am always trying to find that conversation element, whether between a set and talking or trying to find a way to keep myself in that relationship with the fans.


What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

When I am performing, cashew nuts and dark chocolate rice cakes are my go-to. That’s without a doubt.


Any side projects you’re working on?

I am writing. I always write. All these ideas that I have, I am always trying to write them and put them together in some kind of format. We also have some work with Faithless and are working on a special one-hour set to be previewed later in the year.


How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Since I entered the industry, I think the best way I’ve refined my craft is by letting go of ideas of who I am and what I do and being open to all ideas. I’ve become less protective over it. For example, in the studio, I am open to experimenting with anything. On the stage, I am willing to try anything different. I am willing to step in front of every audience and give what I have. I think that has been my biggest growth curve. Not restricting myself in one direction and exploring my craft in as many different ways as I can. This year, I worked on a few independent self-publishing books. I might sign a publishing deal this year. I am working on a live set that incorporates a lot: spoken word, comedy, theater, one-man shows, and readings combined.


Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

This year, more music with Faithless and M4L4Y4 and a live musical performance. I am also working on a few independent self-publishing books. I might sign a publishing deal this year. Additionally, I am working on a live set that incorporates a lot: spoken word, comedy, theater, one-man shows, and readings combined.


Famous last words?

Haha, this question feels a little morbid! If you ask me in Cinema – I’ll be back! That’s the biggest one. For me personally, it’s a parody of the saying by the person who invented the lever, which goes, “Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I can move the world.” So I say, “Give me a microphone and a place to stand, and I will move the world.”




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