A doctor by day; pioneering musician by night…
sounds like the start of a should-be-on-the-silver-screen pitch. In actuality, it is the reality for Manchester-based Sukh - he is a sometimes-doctor and writes at all times but that is a bit clunky to fit into a single line! Since releasing his eponymous debut L.P. in 2013; the young musician has been busy bringing his Chamber-Folk and lupine vocals to the general populous. Thriving in a city as compelling and cosmopolitan as Manchester; he is making big strides and creating some of his finest-ever work. I ask him about the new track, Flight, and how important Manchester is to him.
I get an idea of the music that drives him and what his background is; what it was like working with John Simm (Cleft) and the Manchester String Quartet on his latest single and gig plans that lie ahead.
Hi, Sukh. How are you? How has your week been?
It’s been a busy one. It’s been good.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure. I’m Sukh: a singer-songwriter - and sometimes a doctor - based here in Manchester.
Flight is your new single. What can you tell me about its story and origin?
Flight is a mix of old and new ideas. I had a few ideas for it. It started with the chorus and slowly developed from there. It’s a song about the transience of things both good and bad.
For the ending, I wanted to make the listener feel like they are flying.
John Simm (Cleft) and the Manchester String Quartet appear on the song. How did you come to meet them and what do they bring to the music?
I met John way back in a pub - after talking online for a bit - and he’s (just) an overall great musician to work with. I’ve worked with the Manchester String Quartet before and John Purton (another John) helped with the arrangements as well.
They are great to work with and deciphering the ideas I pursue.
It is taken from the forthcoming, Galactic Love Machine. I have to ask where that title comes from...
It was taken from the stars. Haha.
The true story about it is that my friend Rob came up with it when thinking of band names - and I liked it a bit too much.
What kind of themes and ideas do you look at in the album?
The themes in this album are quite simple and direct: love, acceptance; gratitude, and being a dreamer - to name a few.
Firstly, I had to decide on a sonic palate - and I wanted to create something earthy and, at times, a bit '80s. There’s quite a mix of different styles and genres on the album.
I’ll let you decide what they are.
Based in Manchester, you must be aware of how the city is changing. What is the music like there and how instrumental are the people there to your creative drive?
I love Manchester.
It’s a great place and it has a thriving city. It has introduced me to my band and to Fred - who co-produced this record. All of them shape the content in one way or the other.
Some have compared (aspects of) your music to Coldplay. Is that a band you are inspired by? What kind of artists influences you?
My influences are broad.
Can’t say Coldplay is a direct influence. I liked their Rush of Blood to the Head era, I suppose.
Artists that influence me currently on an ever-changing list include The National, Jason Isbell; Sigur Rós, B.B. King; Alabama Shakes, Beach Boys and Phoenix.
Over the years, you have resided in other cities and tackled the open mic. scene. Was there any particular country/city that had a big effect on you – in terms of the people and music?
London and Manchester have both been instrumental.
I used to go to open mics nearly every day when I first started out in Manchester - and my time in London showed me there are so many talented musicians out there looking for their little piece of something.
Had some great nights there.
How important are authors like Tolstoy and psychologists such as Lyubomirsky? Does literature compel a lot of your music?
The psychologists influence me and Tolstoy was a master of people.
In some ways, the album is about following some of the evidence they lay out about what makes a man happy.
What kind of live dates do you have coming up? Any you are particularly looking forward to?
Kendal Calling is next week and really looking forward to it.
More to be announced soon...
After that, any plans for more music? What are you hoping to achieve over the next few months?
Gonna get the album out first and then we’ll talk more. But yes lots more coming. Still deciding whether to release another single first or whether to get the album out.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Most new artists aren’t new. Haha.
Some people that are worth a mention are people I have encountered on my circuit - including bands like Ivan Campo (extremely charming trio) and The Little Unsaid - who never ceases to amaze me with his musical prowess.
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
It’s impossible to choose...but here are a few:
Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
I remember the first time I listened to it and I (just) thought it was perfect.
Sigur Rós- Takk…
Seeing them on their tour of Takk… was a phenomenal experience. I was a teenager (just) discovering music.
Laura Veirs - July Flame
I have a musical crush on her.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
It’s a long road ahead of you - and make sure you’re doing it for the music and nothing else. It won’t pay at first and it means lots of work; not just musically but in terms of almost of being a business and an enterprise.
Be passionate and keep on keeping on.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Tilted - Christine and the Queens