Sudie is sitting in her bedroom, pointing to a miniature soundproof box which holds her mic and barely allows room to stick her face through. "This is my studio," she says, adorning the last word with air-quotes. "I made it by cutting up some cheap mattress foam from Walmart."
You can tell that Dallas singer Sudie has made a name for herself because half of it has disappeared. Her last name, Abernathy, became unnecessary. Since first collaborating with DJing duo Booty Fade over two years ago, Sudie now reigns over indie venues with a loyal following and attention from regional magazines and newspapers. She now appears on stage alone, often creating and performing new music in front of the audience.
While confident, she doesn't seem to believe her own hype. "I don't know that I've really made a name for myself yet," she says. "I don't feel much has changed in the last year."
Sudie's life seems hectic. She describes a week full of meetings, songwriting and only one day off, which included a photo shoot. "When I'm not doing something for my music, I feel like a piece of shit," she says.
Last weekend, she begins her Saturday by playing in the cruel summer heat outdoors at The Foundry. The crowd seems in no mood to be entertained, looking instead like they just want water, or the sweet release of death. She starts the show by recording some vocal arpeggios on the spot, playing them back on a loop, building the track by harmonizing with her own voice, and thus getting the thirsty crowd's attention. Crafting a song while onstage doesn't make her nervous: "That's just how I do it at home."
Sudie's voice is trained to kill, and has a Bjork-meets-Badu texture. Offstage she speaks with the candor of a drunken Bukowski character. "I think I have a drinking problem," she says of her hard-partying off hours, while explaining her self-imposed rule of not drinking for 35 hours before a show, because "24 hours isn't long enough and 48 hours is too long."
Sudie describes her upcoming EP, called Prism, as more cohesive than her first, and says that she looks at her early work with the same cringing criticism you feel from old high school pictures. She's releasing each song on her album as a single, and has a Beyoncé-like plan of releasing a video along with each single.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Her home, a spotless flat she shares with her sister in the Southside building, doubles as the set of a video shoot for a song called "FAQ." The concept of the video revolves around relationships that are unsuccessfully recycled, and the plot will play out backwards, like the film Memento. Sudie has cast a man and a woman as her former lovers. While she says that LGBTQ issues are close to her heart, she wasn't going for a particular message with the casting. "Miller just fit the part," she says.
For one scene, she flirts with her female love interest on a bench of the building's rooftop, with the big Southside sign, and the sunset, behind them. They're so engrossed in character that they don't seem to notice a family with a child looking back at them every so often. "I'm a humanist," Sudie says, "When I'm able to influence people I want to advocate for equality."
Sudie's studied acting in the past, and plans to return to it. She's also been in a girl band, which she quit after one performance. She was ultimately inspired by her friend and fellow singer Sammy "Rat" Rios to begin making her own compositions.
Now Sudie's a one-woman show with no backing band, and she doesn't want anybody else on stage with her. "I haven't found my sound yet, so to have someone else fuck with it, I'm not ready for that," she says. "I'm still searching for it, and I don't know that I'll ever find it."