We get to know one of Melbourne's busiest musicians.

Words by

Veronica Stanford

If you live around Melbourne chances are you've heard of Becky Freeman.

If not, you may know her better as Sui Zhen, DJ Susan, Fox and Sui and Sui et Sui, NO ZU and Hot Palms. Yep, Becky Freeman is a pretty busy lady.

After slowly making a name for herself in Melbourne’s underground music scene, Becky’s first Australian LP was released last month under the title Secretly Susan. The melodic-pop songstress has been very busy not only making songs, but producing, editing and directing her own music videos. Secretly Susan sees Becky explore her alter ego Susan through a range of pop-synths and sweet sounds.

We were lucky to steal some time with Becky to talk Japanese lovers rock, recording and learn all about her alter egos.

Congrats on your new LP, tell us about the recording process.
In 2013 I got a grant from the Australian Council to produce new work. I had a lot of the songs mostly already written so I just set aside a good block of time to start working on them. In 2014 it was basically about listening to what I’d done as a collection then adding songs or changing ones I thought would work previously and didn’t any more. That’s how ‘Infinity Street’ came about. You go and record the songs and then you get time to reflect before another burst of writing and recording. I did this a bit before I felt happy about the finished product.

After such a long time you must be so excited to release it?
It’s a long time but it is kind of nice. That extra time allowed me to create the visual aspect for it, which is a whole other process that I apply myself to. That probably uses the same energy as music, so it is hard for me to do both at once, even though I might have ideas. 

Tell us about Susan, how did she come about? 
I was making the songs and I got these abstract ideas for videos and visuals, and I would write them down. By the end of recording there was quite a separation between the lyrical content and what the song meant to me personally, so I could look more objectively at it. I started to listen to the lyrics and develop this persona of someone who might sing those songs - even though it’s me. It sounds kind of weird…. By the end of it all I had this fully formed Susan person

Your music is inspired by '80s Japanese lovers rock, what is it that draws you to that aspect of Japanese culture? Where did that fascination begin?
I feel like it was from visiting Japan… Obviously I was exposed to different producers and I started to think about what music I wanted to own more of. That just kind of informed the musical world and the sounds that I wanted to have. I guess I particularly like other cultures, or people that don’t speak English as their native language, making music in English. Maybe accidentally sometimes it can be more poetic, and I really like that.

You’ve directed, produced, starred in and edited your own music videos, where does that passion come from?
That passion has been around for a really long time. I studied film production at uni in my first degree, but music just became the thing that I chose. I started to get into music videos just recently and thought that maybe I could make music videos mean a bit more to me.

I get quite absorbed in the music videos, it might take me longer to make one than if I got someone else to make it, but it is worthwhile in the end because the feedback I get is so good and it is so personal.

Your videos are very visually colourful and auteristic. Do you think your next videos will follow the same style?
I think so, definitely for this album. Now that I have designed that world I feel like it is easier for me to generate ideas, because I have a format and it has its own little language. Maybe the next one will be a bit more collaborative again and a different world will emerge, we’ll see. A different woman maybe [laughs].

A new alter ego?
I think so! I have told some friends about this other alter ego I am scheming up and they say "Come on, everyone is just getting to know Susan, you can’t just abandon her.” But I have more alter egos to explore [laughs].

You have Big Sound coming up soon, are you looking forwards to that? Can we expect any more shows this year?
I am looking forwards to Big Sound, and definitely there will be more live shows. I will be doing album launch shows in November. Maybe there will be Susan vibes happening as well. Hopefully that will continue over summer and into next year, I’d like to get Susan out there and then start working on the next project. 

Secretly Susan is out now via Remote Control Records.


Leave a comment


It’s the fun, jaunty-pop we’ve come to know Arcade Fire for.
From the rawness of heartbreak, to a place of renewed strength.
Looks like this New Orleans band has finally hit its stride.
On NYC, Panorama Music Festival and Brazillian poetry.
On music, long-distance relationships and supporting local talent.
A fat bunch of hits does not an album make.
An all-out glam rock album.
There's a certain charm about this album.
Musicians are advised to back up their music.
On band mates, women in music and overcoming stage fright.
A glimmering record full of love and heartbreak.
Talking touring, Netflix and time spent at home.
Easygoing and atmospheric.
Is it wrong to want more?
A debut album four years in the making.
Frankly, not their best work.
A voice for the angry.
The little electro band that could.
Home hangs with Emma and Alice.
We hang at home with the two best friends.
The first single off her forthcoming album.
In an unannounced Australian capital city.
Is it still relevant to rap about gangsta shit?
*By a person who didn't really know her music until now
No fashion week should be without a good hair director.
Talkin nail polish, EPs and the possibility of a Killing Heidi Reunion.
A little West Coast act doing big things.
The self-awareness sets her apart.
Inspired by the not-so-nice stuff about being a woman.
Strangely underwhelming.
Clearly a very personal album for frontman, Kele.
I didn't want this to be a hate letter....
That Rihanna reign just don't let up.
There's still nobody out there with a voice like this.
Meet the label prioritising social responsibility.
A lush and detailed listen.
Confident and charismatic.
And other handy job application tips.
An in-depth look at the woman behind the label.
Get to know the personality behind the voice.
The best week of Melbourne's music year is on the horizon.
We heard everything...
Turns out their name has nothing to do with Chinese food.
Talking The First Wives Club and GarageBand.
Madonna will bring her Rebel Heart tour to Australia next year.
What it’s really like growing up in a cosmetics empire.
Sweden, you’ve done it again.
Australian musicians are taking centre stage.
An album that is somehow both loud and indescribably quiet at the same time.
Talking M&M’s in ice-cream and Skittles in vodka.
With all in- app purchases going to charity.
"The mid-song break down on the title track is still one of my favourite musical moments from recent memory."
"Oh, this is what feel good music is."
Dreamy pop tunes coming to you live.
Hoooooooooboy. Get ready to start planning your trip to Byron, the lineup for Splendour In The Grass 2015 is finally here.
One of the smoothest voices in Melbourne.
Returns to Australia for Vivid Live.
The hauntingly beautiful sounds of London Grammar hit Festival Hall.
It may not be groundbreaking, but this is definitely emotional enough.
It's like it's 2012 all over again and in a very good way.
Comfortingly few muscle tees.
Get ready for your next fave artist Australia.
Take those early high school years and turn them into a bratty pop record.
The Backstreet Boys are coming back, awright.
Fascinated and a little intrigued, we quizzed the duo behind the Spanish label.
The singer/songwriter gears up to grace our shores.
Mim and Liv NERVO have taken the world by storm.
Melbourne's fun new jewellery label tells us what's up.
Client Liaison are hitting the ground running in 2015.
Because pun-derpants are the best idea.
2014 has been a pretty ripper year for music, seeing the emergence of new (and incredible) artists, the continuing domination of...
Like we needed another reason to <3 her.
Taylor Swift tells ASOS Magazine the life lessons she’s learnt.
Is there anything more 'Melbourne' than a laneway party?
Absence must make the heart grow fonder, as Chet Faker announces an Australian Tour after a year of worldly adventure
Zoe Kravitz to hit Topshop Sydney this Friday
Nostalgia for the ‘80s and an appreciation of Aussie culture— Client Liaison evoke a corporate narrative, to the point where I...
If you’ve spent time on any fashion website during the last five years – which is pretty likely – then you have encountered Julia...
Gorman is in a constant state of flux - but in a good way.
Actual great vintage tees without the hassle.
We hit up Joey and Rob from ELEVEN Australia for some insider tips, nifty tricks and picked their brains on how they made it in...
When you hear the words ‘Swedish folk music’ the first image that jumps to mind is probably men in tiny green overalls yodelling...
We chatted to Kelis about her line of sauces, the Kelis food truck at SXSW, what she loves most about fashion and of course her...
Everyone the world over just amped up their squat regime.
We love the internet, especially the endless hours of shopping fun it provides us.
How can one person have so many talents? I mean, really.
LA born BANKS has been capturing global attention. We caught up with her to chat songwriting, messages from the universe, and why...
We chat to Lily Allen ahead of her Australia tour Splendour in the Grass headline appearance
Stevie Dance’s story is pretty much a fashion industry fairytale.
English synth-pop sensations Bastille may be in the middle of a sell-out US tour before hitting Australian shores next month, but...
When people say that punk is dead, that’s not really the whole story.
Meet The Bohicas. They’re the new buzz band creeping out of old London town (for something different) but don’t switch off yet....
James Vincent McMorrow’s music is tailor-made to fill big spaces, metaphorically and literally. Luckily for him – and us – an...
Janelle Monáe and Kimbra are two of the most dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking artists in contemporary music. Both are...
Over the past twelve months, Melbourne's own Hiatus Kaiyote have scorched the sky of the international music industry.
Desert Designs might just be the most inter­est­ing design col­lab­o­ra­tion going around.