Image by Spencer Kohn
The 19-year-old singer Sulene from Brooklyn, who moved to America from South Africa when she was only 19, has already proven herself to be a musical renaissance woman. She has composed for the successful television programs Ray Donovan and The Affair as well as for spots for Nike, Microsoft and Dior. And as the tour guitarist in Nate Ruess’ live band (that kid for fun), she was actually in the White House performing for President Barrack Obama herself.
Somehow, she even managed to find time to write and record her own material – and we were immediately thrilled with her new single / video photo booth, which BlackBook is enthusiastically premiering here. Musically it is an almost perfect encapsulation of the synth-pop ethos of the 80s with its cool, lazy beat, irresistible hooks and absolutely massive choruses – and this all the more because of their clever, vocal serenity. Lyrically it is a self-reflective admission of her struggles with addiction and bad habits.
“No matter what I do, I’ll crawl back to you / So I might as well have evidence / Meet me in the photo booth.”
This photo booth was actually her home, as has been the case with so many video shoots since our universal lockdown came into effect. Fortunately, this apartment was equipped with a complete set of stage lights – so the end result is a hyper-sensory, also very dayglo-visual extravaganza of the 80s. And even in isolation, Sullena’s effortless charisma pervades.
“I wanted the video to make you feel like you’re in an underground club,” she explains, “and somehow get lost in this scene. The reason I appear naked is to show vulnerability, as the lyrics of the song asks whether it is really that good to give in to this moment. The makeup acts like a warrior to show that I’m fighting some kind of internal battle. “
Not to spoil the surprise, but we’re pretty sure she’ll win.