Photo Credit: Luke Chui
When it came time to pen her May 2021 release, ‘14th and 4th,’ pop singer Susan Darvishi notes that it was her surroundings in New York City at the time that moved her to write. Since putting the final touches on the record, she’s since moved to the opposite side of the country. We talked about her new locale, meeting a potential romantic partner in…real life, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: You’ve been releasing music for almost a couple of years now, but before that – were you working towards that, or were you in another field just dreaming of being an artist day in and day out?
Susan Darvishi: I’ve always loved music and dreamed of becoming an artist, but I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to pursue it as a career. I didn’t know where or how to start. For that reason, I ended up studying computer science in college and worked as a project manager for a tech company after graduation, but I knew something still didn’t feel right. I’d write songs during my lunch breaks and only felt happy when I was singing my new lyrics at home. Eventually, an old friend reached out to me and we started working on some music together, and viola, “Taste Like Summer” was born! It opened my eyes to a whole different world.
Kendra: You dropped your debut single back in the summer of 2019. No one could have guessed that several months or so later – life as we knew it would get a bit different. You’ve noted that the lockdowns and quarantines sort of pushed your creativity. Do you feel like you grew more as a songwriter thanks to the extended time at home more so than you would have if the world had been running like usual?
Susan Darvishi: I think being forced to stay at home for multiple weeks on end pushed me creatively. It’s kind of like when the lights go out and all you’re left with is you and your own imagination to kill time. I finally had time to let my thoughts run wild, and the lyrics just poured out of me. I always felt like I was fighting against time when I was living in NYC. The new change of environment that came with my move to CA as well as the lockdowns forced me to really slow down and reflect on my college experiences in New York. This new quieter environment and the fact I had to stay at home all the time really gave me the opportunity to hone my craft, both as a singer and as a songwriter.
Kendra: Are there subjects and themes on ‘14th and 4th’ that were inspired by the chaos that was 2020?
Susan Darvishi: This album was mostly inspired by my experiences in New York and describes the growing pains that many young adults, like myself, face when moving to a city for the first time. Though some themes like escape can be seen through the lens of someone enduring the pandemic, they were primarily derived from reflecting on my time in New York.
Kendra: So let’s talk about “Polaroid” because the story around it was wild to me – meeting in real life? What?! It seems like an out-of-this-world concept not only because of COVID but because we’re so deeply rooted in online dating today. So this song sort of captures an old-school sense of romance. Was this song inspired by actual events or more wishful thinking?
Susan Darvishi: I’m quite the romcom fan, and I love stories where people fall in love after chance meetings. Though this story isn’t based on an actual experience, I know that NYC can be a magical place where something like this could actually happen! I met new people all the time when I lived in New York, and I wanted to write a song that depicts how easy it is to meet someone there. So, I let my imagination run wild while writing this song, mixing in fiction with my own city experiences. A story like this couldn’t happen now because of COVID, of course. My hope though is once the world gets back to some kind of normal, NYC will be just as magical as ever!
Kendra: “Polaroid” is about meeting someone out in New York City, but right now you’re out in the Bay Area. How do you feel this coast varies in terms of its music scene compared to the east coast?
Susan Darvishi: I haven’t gotten a chance to truly explore the music scene in the Bay Area just yet due to COVID, but I think it’s a great sign that I’ve already met a handful of musicians with the limited chances I’ve had to leave my apartment. After I moved, I discovered I lived right next door to a music store, which felt like fate honestly! I think there are a ton of creative people on both coasts, and I’m excited to continue meeting more as I continue my musical journey.
Kendra: It’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Susan Darvishi: I’ve got a couple of releases coming out soon that I’m really excited about. My next single “We Could Never Be” dropped on April 21st and my album ‘14th and 4th’ will drop on May 26th! I’m really excited to share the album with everyone soon and hope everyone enjoys it! Other than that, I’ll be keeping an eye out for venues where I can safely perform my new music as things open back up this summer.