Susie van der Meer strikes me as an underappreciated recording artist. "Susie van der zuh?", you might ask. Exactly. A German (though an Anglophone vocalist), she's evidently so obscure in North American that her English-language Wikipedia page is a stub and an orphan, which, I hardly need tell you, are two highly demoralizing pieces of Wikipedian terminology.
The page links to her official site, whose interesting parts are all in German and thus not of much use to a citizen of God's America. Luckily, this being 2009, Google Translate can cast light, of a sort, on her bio:
recall: 1997 Susie van der Meer for a season such a great success with their debut album called "Static Warp Bubble" (the one nasty shrinking universe of Star Trek was the world) that their then-record company soon consider was to have to deal with a new girl wonder. That was six years ago. Van der Meer would throw her band, will play tight dress and Vortänzerin. Fuck you.(Hey, still beats Babelfish.)
Who was the last conscious pitched a career? In a country where every day is presented to us that success is worth even the betrayal of ideals, Susie van der Meer chose to retreat into her apartment in Berlin Kreuzberg, in a stereo system is - and what are CDs from TalkTalk and Massive Attack piled by Tricky, The Velvet Underground and PJ Harvey. She worked with various musicians on the soundtrack of "Run Lola Run", "Meschugge" and "Night at the Park." And together with their two comrades, arrangers, producers, brothers in spirit and co-authors Ben Lauber and Moses Schneider (including producer of surrogate Your Ear, Paula and many others), they shuttled between Kreuzberg and New York, because there had been Schneider, together with an American Friend have an offshoot of the "Transporter Room" studios open to what others worked The Strokes on their debut album. Above all, however, took Susie van der Meer, with Schneider and Lauber dozens of songs in many more states of aggregation on.
So if she's so unknown, how could I have come upon her? As you've probably guessed, German film had something to do with it. After watching Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run, I decided, like many other viewers, that I had to have the soundtrack. (Rarely does a modern film cooperate with its music quite so effectively.) Given my age and location at the time, this necessitated hopping on by bike, pedaling for no fewer than 45 minutes and hoping the local Borders or the one indie music store in Redmond stocked it. (The latter came through.)
Wedged in between mixes five and 17 of the "I wish I were a hunter, in search of different food" song comes van der Meer's "Somebody Has to Pay":
This track, if memory serves — which it might not, since I last saw the movie over a decade ago — bridges the final shot and the credits. Though it wasn't particularly conspicuous in the picture, it jumped out as the best thing on the disc, perhaps due to its stylistic difference from the rest of it. I listened to it every single say of ninth grade's second and third trimesters, such was my enthusiasm.
You'd think I would have pursued collecting her stuff more aggressively, but yet, eleven-ish years down the line, I only know her work to the extent that I've found songs floating around the net. Until very recently, even YouTube didn't have "Somebody Has to Pay". Now it's got that and her new single, "Gravity":
I've never heard any other singer-songwriters (or whatever the title is) who sound quite like her, much less lady ones. To better place this in the context of personal taste, it's damn rare that I gravitate, as it were, to female vocalists. Usually, unless you're a louche Englishman or a bunch of similarly-dressed black guys, I won't get too excited by your singing. (I do make an exception for semi-reclusive Swedish disco revivalist Sally Shapiro, who sounds as if she stepped straight from the clamshell into the recording studio. But then again, I would go for that.) A lot of the womenfolk who take the mic affect an unconvincing sexiness, which squicks me. Susie van der Meer has something else; her distinctive delivery and the production that surrounds it sound singularly well-suited to one another.
She's got an interesting look, too, which I no doubt overvalue. Her avaliable photos, of which there aren't many, reveal an appearance not displeasing but somehow unconventional in a way I can't quite pin down. Maybe it's an angularity thing, although mode of dress certainly has something to do with. These images take moderate pains to divert attention what appears to be a crooked nose, but I say that's a genuine, all-too-rare source of aesthetic interestingness, not something to be hidden.
The entire package is reason enough to don a pair of hip waders and visit MySpace, where van der Meer has a page with several playable songs. You'll also get an object lesson in why I consider MySpace a throbbing apocalypse of incompetent self-promotion: somebody's embedded a dumb-ass advertisement for their EP in the comments section, which plays automatically. You'll want to swoop down and shut it off before listening to anything. I especially like "Found You" and "Chiki". I suspect that "Chiki" is code for "sex."