The Sound of UT: student finds new sound through exploring her sexuality

Morgan-Taylor Thomas

With a bunch of silver and gold chain necklaces around her neck, Susannah Joffe applied blush to her face as she got ready for a night out. Peering into the mirror, she said her journey to music started when she would co-write and sing with her dad at a young age. 

Her family moved from Virginia to pursue the Austin music scene when she was young, and she performed her first solo gig at 15. The summer before her freshman year at UT, she put out her first two singles. 

Now, after a yearlong hiatus to take time for herself, the radio-television-film and Plan II junior said she has been able to express herself and explore her identity through her music. Recently, the solo indie pop artist has added another single, “Nobody Wants Me Tonight,” and a music video to her discography. 

The Daily Texan: How did you first start making music?

Susannah Joffe: I was born in Virginia, and we moved to Austin because my dad wanted to pursue songwriting. He organically nudged me towards it by showing me a melody he wrote, so that's how we started writing together. And songwriting with my dad in high school was a way for us to bond and talk about a lot of stuff that maybe I didn't really want to talk to him about — like breakups — and was a way to have a dialogue with him without actually having it. 

DT: How has quarantine affected and shaped your music?

SJ: I came out during quarantine. Before that, I was still in very deep denial that I am very bisexual. And I was quarantined with the girl that I was (dating), so it gave me the time and space to be … writing all the time and exploring (my sexuality). I also got submerged a lot more into gay culture online, which affected the type of music I was listening to, so I got a lot more into indie pop and indie rock. I think now I'm writing a lot more along the lines of Phoebe Bridgers, Clairo, all the typical gay ladies. So quarantine has definitely shaped my songwriting a lot, and that's why I'm really excited to put out a new EP that debuts that new sound.

DT: What kind of creative overlap have you discovered between the radio-television-film program and being a musical artist?

SJ: Honestly, it's really great because I self-directed my music video for “Nobody Wants Me Tonight,” and I was able to do it for free because I have great friends in the program who didn't charge me. That video was a huge part of promoting that song, and I don't think my song would have gotten anywhere near as many streams if I didn't have a professional-looking video. Having those resources and those connections has been invaluable for me.

DT: What does music mean to you?

SJ: To be honest, a few years ago, I don't think I would have known how to answer this question. I only just started understanding how important music is to me during quarantine. I’m very pain-avoidant and have a lot of issues with confronting that pain, so I need some kind of outlet. Songwriting is literally journaling for me. It’s my diary, so music has been a really healthy way for me to cope. Music means the world to me, and I literally don't know what I would do if I didn't have music because I don’t want to do anything with my life other than music.