Today, Melbourne experimental electronic / pop and performance artist Sui Zhen unveils her new single, “Matsudo City Life”. The track, inspired by Annie Lennox in the Eurhythmics ‘Love Is A Stranger’ era, The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’ and ‘Linger’ era and Japanese City Pop of the late 80s, was captured in the city of Matsudo, Japan in a repurposed Love Hotel.
Zhen further explains, “the walls of the Love Hotel – titled ‘Paradise Air’ – were made of very thick concrete to keep loud noise in, which worked well for us musicians. Each room was uniquely themed. We were assigned one with faded pink and red tones, a love heart shaped bathtub and maroon carpet. Whilst the room we designated as ‘the studio’ was tiled with cool grey tones, marble and pillared. The city was what locals call a ‘sleeper town’ or bedroom community, which Salarymen would use only for rest. In some ways it was a city full of their dreams and empty of their reality.”
Sui Zhen zooms in on the intersections between human life and technology – how to exist in the digital age, as well as the ways in which we risk losing true sight of ourselves in the process. Her latest chapter, Losing, Linda, pairs her signature inquisitiveness with a surreal electronic pop that possesses a dreamlike quality: vivid, uncanny, and upon close examination, revealing of deep emotional and personal truths. It’s an album that examines loss on multiple levels – from the death of our loved ones, to our widespread societal tendency to disappear within the ones and zeroes of modern life’s tech-driven rush.
Losing, Linda‘s creation began back in 2016 when she took up an artistic residency in Sapporo, Japan. Zhen originally came to the residency equipped with demos conceived in the wake of her preceding breakout record, Secretly Susan – but real-life tragedy intervened, as her mother was diagnosed with cancer. In the process, a sense of overall mortality was unmistakably infused into the thematic structure of Losing, Linda.
On Losing, Linda, Sui Zhen takes the theoretical form of Linda, a digital doppelgänger and avatar invoking the e-learning channel Lynda and its founder Lynda Weinman, as well as the humanoid robot BINA48. The character of Linda is personified on the album’s cover by choreographer and colleague Megan Payne, whose literal embodiment of Linda interrogates the disembodiment of online life, and calls into question the possibility of death in the digital age.
The album is also accompanied by a digital ecosystem, aiming to create an online world for listeners where they can interact in real time with Linda. “It’s somewhere between a ghost, a memory, and a digital assistant” Sui Zhen explains. In other words, a perfect evocation of what Losing, Linda represents thematically and musically: a trip through the real and the uncanny. Losing, Linda is a lovingly personal and humanistic document of our ever-changing world, the things we lose along the way, and the insights we gain from loss itself. You can see the first stage of the digital ecosystem here: https://livingmemory.suizhen.com.au