Photos by Alyssa DiCaterino
Suzanne Santo is an actress, musician, and a self-proclaimed “spiller of coffee.” She has an accomplishment or two (or many more) under her belt, and I had the chance to catch her in action on stage alonside Hozier at their stop in Orlando, Florida, on the Wasteland, Baby! tour. A few weeks after the show, I was still in awe of the performance, and I just had to reach out to her and ask a few questions.
Festival Squad: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us! And congratulations on this tour with Hozier! You guys put on an absolutely incredible show. What has been your favorite part of this tour so far?
Suzanne Santo: Thank you so much for having me! Man, I would say my favorite part of this year’s touring would be Australia, where I am right this minute. I’ve never been and have had been really fortunate to have a couple days off here. It is absolutely stunning (We also just played two sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House and that was “cool”).
FS: You actually opened for Hozier throughout his UK tour towards the end of last year. Is that how you guys connected, and you joined the stage with him for this part of the Wasteland, Baby! tour?
SS: I actually met Andy (Hozier) when my band HONEYHONEY played the same benefit concert in San Francisco a little while back. Andy had taken a good year off to write Wasteland Baby and it was his first gig in a while. He played an acoustic set by himself and my band mate and I ended up backing him up on ” Work Song.” We became fast friends, and a year later when he asked me to join his band, I was thrilled.
FS: You guys have a few festivals coming up like Hangout, Bonnaroo, Boston Calling, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, and Outside Lands. Any festival in particular you’re really looking forward to?
SS: Honestly, all of the above! I LOVE playing festivals. It’s like a summer camp reunion with my favorite bands and artists. It is such a luxury to be able to walk in and play, and also see so much incredible music as “part of the job.” I haven’t played any of the above mentioned fests, so I’m excited about all of them.
FS: Ok really quick, I have to know how this whole Spotify Subway performance happened. Who’s idea was this? How did it all work out?
SS: I honestly couldn’t tell you, but I will say that Andy has an incredible team around him that really understands his message and work ethic and do an incredible job supporting him.
FS: So we know you’re also an amazing solo artist, but what I didn’t know is that you’re also an actress! A woman of many talents. Were you doing music at the same time you were acting? Do you prefer one over the other?
SS: Ha! Thank you! I love music first and foremost, but have a very special place in my heart for acting. Both are vehicles of story telling and that’s what I’m most passionate about. They really feed into the other. It’s a real luxury when I get to go back and forth between the two.
FS: You have such an amazing stage presence, but I’m curious to know if you ever get nervous for gigs anymore? If so, how do you usually deal with nerves?
SS: Of course! I think the best thing to do when I get nervous is to just be nervous. Overcompensating or trying to hide it never works, and I’ve found that when I just give it up to the crowd, they meet me with support and then it just becomes that togetherness that music is really about and you forget you were even nervous in the first place.
FS: You’re a legend on the fiddle and the guitar. How long have you been playing each instrument for? How did you first start learning them?
SS: Dayum! I’m gonna save this email for when I’m feeling like a turd on the guitar. THANK YOU. You’re very sweet. I started playing the fiddle when I was 11 and acoustic guitar when I was 17 or so. Violin was my first real instrument other than my voice and I love it so much. I started playing electric guitar a few years back and have been amazed and humbled by how difficult it can be. There are a million different ways to slice the electric guitar union and I really hope to just get better and better at it.
FS: Who are some of your biggest music inspirations?
SS: Lucinda Williams, Wilco, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Billie Holiday, Radiohead…. I love it all.
FS: Any artist you’re itching to work with in the future?
SS: It would be a dream to do a record with Blake Mills. He’s incredible.
FS: We always love to ask a few fun questions, usually relating to food, during our interviews here at Festival Squad. Gotta keep you guys entertained too. With that being said, I’m sure you’ve had the opportunity to taste some amazing dishes while traveling for shows. What city has the BEST food?
SS: Ooooo so tough! I’m gonna have to say New York City. The competition is so intense that the food has to be amazing in order for an establishment to stay open and there are SO MANY different cultures to draw from. The whole city is like a buffet of the finest restaurants.
FS: Hmm. New York. So does pineapple belong on pizza?
SS: I mean, I don’t love it, but who am I to say it doesn’t belong there? I’m a real lefty at heart and support everyone’s individual freedom of expression, so I’m not going stomp on someone else’s pizza dreams.
FS: Mad respect. So I saw on Instagram that you recently played on Ellen, and got to meet Chris Hemsworth. What was it like to meet Thor?
SS: Chris who?? KIDDING… my life has been forever changed.
FS: This is definitely a question more so out of personal curiosity, but where do you like to shop at? You always have the best outfits!
SS: Oh geez, thanks for the incredible confidence boosts peppered into these questions! First and foremost I’m a big advocate for sustainable fashion and companies that manufacture with eco integrity. I also LOVE vintage shopping as it’s recycling and is so exciting to find that one of kind gem. They don’t make clothes like they used to and well made clothes should last a very long time. I’m a huge fan of Pendleton Woolen Mills, Everlane and St Roche.
FS: Alright Suzanne, one last question. Other than the Wasteland, Baby! tour, do you have any other big plans for 2019 that you can share with us?
SS: I’m actually leaving the Hozier tour in July to record my next record and work on some TV projects in LA. It has been an incredible journey playing with Hozier and I look forward to rocking with him again sometime down the road. Thanks so much for the great questions!