FAULT Online Chat with SUUNS – Ben Shemie


A B S T R A C T.  D A R K.  R O M A N T I C.

Ben Shemie is talking Suuns

The legends of Canadian underground music scene Suuns recently released a new album “Gazelles in flight” with a close friend of the band Radwan Ghazi Moumneh of Jerusalem In My Heart. We had a chat with Suuns’ frontment Ben Shemie.


Hi Ben! How are you?

I’m good. I’m at home. I’m doing my laundry.

I see musicians are people too :) Congratulations on your upcoming release with Jerusalem in My Heart! How did you come up with the idea of this collaboration?

Radwan is kind of a big deal on Montreal music scene, and he’s been making and producing a lot of records for years. We are good friends with him and we really like his music, so we’ve talked about collaboration together to do something different and to have some fun. We booked a studio for a week and recorded some ideas together. It was a really long organic thing that wasn’t expected to be released at first.

Who set the tone for this album? I mean, every song has its name, and some of them are difficult to understand, but probably each of them has a meaning behind it.

Right, you can’t really pronounce it because they are Arabic, so instead of writing them in Arabic, it’s kind of English-numerical way of pronouncing them.

Who is Leyla (referring the name of the song from current album)? Is Leyla a new Edie? (referring “Edie’s Dream” 2013 song)

It’s funny you’re asking, because Leyla is the only song in a whole album that I guess was brought as a traditional song. We played a few shows together when we didn’t have that much material, and in Arabic you say “Layla” at the beginning of the performance when you’re calling on the night, so it was transformed into Leyla as person’s name. It’s also nice to have something short and not drowning in forever, something different.

The new album is very different to your style, being even more psychedelic and less lyric, isn’t it? Can you define its genre(s) or give your vision on this outcome?

I never thought about it in that way and didn’t try to qualify it in multiply genres. Radwan’s music doesn’t have core changes, it’s very drowny and repetitive. So we are doing something similar, but we have more of rock-n-roll feeling with our guitars and stuff. Whatever we do, I feel like it’s a combination of those 2 components, whatever you want to call it. I don’t think it is experimental in a classical sense of word. It’s a vibe thing, it’s about the feel. Vibe-feel record.

Are you coming in the UK as well?

I don’t know yet, but it looks like we will do a couple o tours in September-November.

Let’s talk about Suuns particularly. Where do you derive your inspiration?

Inspiration comes from all over the place. I can only speak to myself because Suuns is about 4 individuals, so it’s hard to comment on it. I think we are all more or less in the same place. I grew up in a classical rock-n-roll, playing the guitar, 70-s music. So did Joe (Yarmush). We all spent some time playing jazz music. Now, over the years, we listen to a lot of electronic music naturally.

2 biggest killers for Suuns are Led Zeppelin, classy rock-n-roll, and Plastic Man, minimal electronic thing. Something in-between those two worlds.

Who is Suuns songwriter?

Up until now I’ve written most of the songs, but a lot of them are not finished yet. Sometimes I write specifically, and sometimes everyone add their own voice to it. The idea of the song is me, and band fills up the rest of it.

Do your lyrics describe something particular? Some experience in your life?

It depends on song and on the inspiration. For example, we had a tour with Black Angel couple of years ago – it’s a heavy psycho-rock band , and as a result of just playing with them for a month that definitely made me write in a different way, cause I’ve got inspired by them. In the past I did a lot of clubbing and that influenced our music as well.

I think there is some love stuff in there too and a phycodelic part of what I’m singing about. It’s all based around the sound, so in some songs I don’t really sing about anything. We always try to develop a story line lyrically or musically.

You’ve been touring at home, in the US, all over Europe and even in Russia. Where was your most memorable show?

In different places we have different following. I’d say in Montreal the audience is pretty laid back in our gigs, but we always had our good shows in France, and our best shows in Paris. People are really cool there. My favorite show was during our first European tour in Paris, the first time we sold out the show. Ever since it always became bigger and better, so every time we play there is cool, but also it’s the most pressure. Eastern Europe audience is really fun.

Sometimes you have good nights, sometimes bad. In my opinion we’ve played a really horrendous show in NY. I left the stage thinking that was so shit, but everyone after said “that was so great!”. You play for an hour and a half, you got a feeling before on how it should be, you have different things planned but you don’t really know how that’s going to happen. Sometimes you feel that everything is lined up and you’re making music. In London we felt loose, and I knew that the audience was appreciating it as well.

3 words that come to our mind when you’re thinking about Suuns. Be abstract.

The Abstract is one of my words. I guess it’s pretty dark. And it’s romantic.

What’s your fault Ben Shemie?

It’s all my fault.

Words: Ksenia Safrey