SUZIE STAPLETON is an alternative rock artist. She is known for electric live performances and guitar-driven noir soundscapes that cross into gothic-blues and alt-folk.
Born and raised in Sydney, Stapleton spent ten years in Melbourne where she began performing and recorded two EPs - “45 Revelations Per Minute” (2008) and “Obladi Diablo” (2012). Her unusual vocal style, unique guitar playing, and poetic leanings have drawn diverse comparisons including Cat Power, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, and Chelsea Wolfe.
Stapleton relocated to the UK in 2015 after several European tours and a chance encounter with producer Cypress Grove. Instantly enamoured with her midnight vocal, Grove invited Stapleton to record for The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project, a labour of love and tribute to The Gun Club’s frontman. This invitation saw Stapleton appear alongside Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Nick Cave, and others - it seemed Stapleton’s muse had bigger plans for her, whisking her from the Southern Hemisphere and planting her amongst her musical heroes. This twist of fate led to Stapleton also appearing as guest vocalist on two records with Lydia Lunch and & Cypress Grove, boosting her cult following and cementing her reputation as one of the most intriguing new acts on the London scene.
Over the past two years, Stapleton has independently released a string of singles gaining airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Introducing, Absolute Radio and Amazing Radio in the UK, and the ABC and Double J in Australia. Stapleton has opened for artists such as Mark Lanegan, Mick Harvey, The Church, and Boss Hog and appeared at festivals including Colours of Ostrava, Liverpool Sound City, Camden Rocks Festival, and Binic Folk Blues Festival.
In the summer of 2018 Stapleton locked herself away to commence writing sessions for her first full-length release “We Are The Plague”. “I had just finished touring with The Church, and an opportunity came up to use a vacant house in Brighton. There was no furniture just bare floorboards with nails sticking out, covered in ancient carpet glue. I got a bed and an old fridge from Freecycle, set up camp and got to work”.
These bleak surroundings void of distractions proved a fertile ground for creativity. Stapleton conjured a collection of poetic and textured songs that formed a deep, dark pool to draw from when rehearsals started that autumn with the band in London.
Stapleton met bassist Gavin Jay when she toured with Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind, with whom he also plays, in 2015. They joined forces with drummer Jim Macaulay (The Stranglers) in 2017. When they made their live debut at Servant Jazz Quarters in 2018 Louder Than War touted it as “An unmissable opportunity to see one of the most exciting emerging talents before she hits the big time”.
Drawing on her background in audio-engineering, Stapleton self-produced the record which consistently defies the limitations of the humble three-piece. This comes down to Stapleton’s attention to detail and her expressive guitar playing which ranges from the light touch of Elliot Smith and Duke Garwood, to razor sharp, effects-soaked riffs evoking Sonic Youth, PiL, or Soundgarden. Jay and Macaulay provide a solid, seething backbone for the record whilst Stapleton adds touches of piano and violin to fill out the soundscapes. Her long-time collaborator, cellist Gareth Skinner from Melbourne, also appears on three tracks adding to the overall lushness of the record. The album was mixed by Dan Cox (Thurston Moore/Laura Marling/Pete Doherty) at London’s Urchin Studios.
“We tracked the drums and bass at OX4 Sound in Oxfordshire early in 2019. I then worked on the sessions at home where I recorded the vocals and guitars and worked on arrangements. It can be difficult keeping perspective when you’re switching between engineering and perfrming, so this process took a while. At times I was also limited by my basic set up - an old computer that struggles to run an old version of Protools, and I only have two mic inputs, but I made it work.”
Stapleton has now settled permanently in Brighton, drawn to the sea and the pull of an ancestral tide - Stapleton’s grandmother was born in The Lanes in 1922, across from where Bella Union records now stands, and her father grew up in the area.
“We Are The Plague” was released on July 31st, on Negative Prophet Records distributed via Cargo Records. It was Voted Top 22 Albums of 2020 So Far by Louder Than War alongside Jehnny Beth, Porridge Radio and Nadine Shah and has received airplay on BBC 6, Double J, ABC, Radio Eins and more worldwide. Read album reveiws here.
"This is a lady that is simply too good to be ignored.
Suzie Stapleton is gonna be huge. You heard it here first...”
- Louder Than War
"Suzie is a great balance to this song and all the fucking songs she sings on. We needed some more of that vaginal power on this record and I knew Suzie was the perfect girl to bring that."
- Lydia Lunch
"It’s rare that a new artist comes along who genuinely defies easy description, but this is certainly the case with Stapleton. Her songs seem to inhabit the dark, intense corners of the soul in a manner not dissimilar to Nick Drake or even Elliott Smith, yet Stapleton’s guitar-playing is at once raw and tender, at times evoking the elemental spirit of Link Wray or ‘Sister’ era Sonic Youth... a bright new star in the ascendant."
- Louder Than War
“You’d need to bandy around names such as Thurston Moore, PJ Harvey, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Mark Lanegan and Marianne Faithfull… People would get the general idea – yet would still come nowhere close. In fact, what she actually sounds like – more than anything – is Suzie Stapleton. The emerging new wave of assertive and gifted female artists is both urgently needed and one of the few bright spots in an otherwise ever more worrying world."
- Tom Robinson
“Striking, black-shrouded songwriting...”
- Clash Music
“Suzie Stapleton is a hard act to follow, I felt like a folk singer going on after Soundgarden. I think she is compelling listening and Melbourne’s best kept rock chick secret.”
- Spencer P Jones (Beasts of Bourbon)
“The EP is an antidote to the insidious disease that is flaccid pop…
There’s a depth of expression and passion on Obladi Diablo you don’t find in the ordinary record.
Pop music… needs a serious prod from songwriters like Suzie Stapleton to remind it just what good music can sound like.”
- Beat Magazine
"...a gorgeous blend of dark compelling lyrics and looping raw and gentle notes. If you could meld PJ Harvey and Chrissy Hynde together then you are getting somewhere close to the style and presence
that she commands in the room, and this is before she has released her debut album.
We will be hearing much more from this lady very soon and I certainly plan to be there when it happens."
- Flick of the Finger, Camden Rocks Festival Live Review