We spoke to Suzanne Purcell of Pursued by Dogs on her background, experiences and thoughts on today’s music industry…
Pursued by Dogs have recently released new single ‘Swap Dimensions’ – check it out below.
How did you get into to music?
I have been involved in music in some shape or form since a very young age. I think I started writing songs around thirteen years old. I got into bands from around 18 all the way up to now. The pull has always been there to write and sing and participate in that world. My father spent many years doing sound for local dramatic societies and my mother was always in choirs as I grew up. I think being exposed to those things inspired me at a very young age. The stardom did not appeal to me, it was being part of something artistic, putting on a show including all the elements that make that work, that was the main draw.
What women have influenced you in your career?
Oh heaps.. but I will stick to the ones that come immediately to mind.
In life: I am sort of in love with Emma Thompson, her effortless talent, her style, her ways of ignoring that she is a woman sometimes in a sea of men and just writing/directing etc and just getting on with it anyway and the fact that both genders love her for it!
For Music: Annie Lennox is way up there, need I go on..she is just pure amazing. I would literally pull an ear off to have written “Why”.
Joni Mitchell: Is it a cliche to say Joni?? Perhaps..but so many women cannot be wrong! The way she influenced me and inspired me to write what comes out of you, what the song demands, not necessarily what is asked of you as a songwriter, that was a massive moment for me and songwriting.
Do you feel your gender is well represented within your own genre?
I feel like it is more and more, which is great. The Electronic Scene in general in Ireland is so much bigger than it was and that is allowing for more female only artists and mixed gender bands who are in that genre to shine. (Elaine Mai, LAOISE, Roe, Bad Bones, Le Boom etc). Maybe Ireland is the exception though, overall I think we always need more!!
Do you feel there is a pressure on women to have a certain aesthetic as vocalists and musicians?
For sure! The question is does it come from society alone or more and more the pressure we put on ourselves? For example, we have an unspoken dress code in Pursued By Dogs for the stage, its black clothes, nothing too complicated, and sometimes I feel this pressure that my black clothes have to be more interesting, more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, more girly! That pressure though is there throughout the industry, particularly when you are the only female among males in the band; Do we have an obligation to be the “glossier” one? I must stress it does not come from my band though, it is just something out there.
I am not generally an under confident person and when I get ready for gigs it is usually one part my style and nine parts comfort for stage, but I do struggle with that in order to feel that balance is correct within myself and what people might expect. I absolutely think if people are coming to see your band, an effort to look well is a must but as women I think we add an extra layer on top of that to ourselves alone.
Have you ever felt the need to work harder as a musician because of your gender?
Thankfully I can say no. I do firmly believe if the voice/sound/song is good enough you will impress as much as anyone else. I feel this experience of mine won’t be the same for all women though, it logically just cannot be in this world… not yet anyway!
Do you think it’s useful to put a focus on women in the music industry? Why?
“If you build it they will come” Haha… Made myself laugh! Honestly though, yes I think we just need to see MORE of women doing what they do in this industry as a whole and for now we do need that focus to make it feel more balanced. Not only are there amazing female artists out there but there are so many propping up the industry too, from bands to promoters to bookers etc so yes we do need a focus for now a positive focus! Hopefully as time goes on that will change at least for the upcoming generation!
Check out Pursued By Dogs’ latest single here…
Interview by Sinéad Furlong