As many young creatives know, the balance between finding time for your art in the storm of real world responsibilities is a tough one. It seems the only way to do everything you want and need in this world is to lose out on other things. You cut deals with yourself, barter as motivation, and caffeine is an instrument in every project. But with all that being said, being a young creative is a lot easier than being a creative parental.
Sumie, the professional name for Sandra Nagano, a Swedish based musician, finds herself struggling with that balance herself. She began her professional music career late in her thirties as a single mother of two. Although Sumie has an incredibly supportive and flexible label producing her music, options like touring or spending weeks in a studio aren’t really viable choices for her. Sumie still needs to spend time with and take of her children, she still needs to work to make enough money for her family to live comfortably, and she still needs find time to write and produce new music. A career can only flourish if given the time and nutrients it requires, as Sumie knows.
When asked about her experience in the music industry, Sumie said, “I have had the great opportunity to release two albums through a label that made my music heard [by] a lot of people. For that, I am very grateful.”
And for a non-touring artist, Sumie is basically creating a new business plan for adult musicians, for those with responsibilities and lives that can’t be stopped or radically changed in the spit fire of passion. On Spotify, Sumie already has over one-hundred and thirty thousand monthly listeners. On Facebook, her page has garnered over three thousands likes. And on Instagram, she has reached just over four hundred followers. Which, compared to many other artists, may not seem like a lot. But in retrospect, Sumie has only begun her professional music career in the last five years and has, although some life blockades, created quite a momentum for herself.
Producing two high quality albums probably helped with that, but spreading music is always the most integral and most difficult part of any musicians’ career. If you want to make it, in some self-sustaining way in the music industry, your music has to reach a certain amount of ears. And if that’s the case, than Sumie would be able to have enough time to dedicate to her craft. The same ifs, ands, and buts we all aspire for.
Sumie said, “My ambition is to have more time to do what I love most and that is to be creative, whether its writing, painting, or composing.”
If Sumie was able to have that time and freedom, I, among many others, would thoroughly reap the benefits of that. Sumie’s music is soulful and calming, almost like a serene snowfall. Her voice carries with the music rather than in contrast. Everything flows smoother in her songs than in any other artist that comes to mind. You can just get lost in the harmonies on your way to walk or relax in the melodies before a meeting. It’s almost like a musical spa. But with real and emotional lyrics. It’s not so much about feeling what is being said but rather really hearing it. Sumie’s music is not a means to an end but a means to a start, whether it be a train of thought or a conversation, it doesn’t stop with the music.
It lives on and had the purpose to. Although Sumie’s professional music career was a later in life venture, her passion for the creative arts have been life long. “When I was a kid, around seven to eight, (this is in the early 80s) my dream was to become a musical artist, so singing as well as dancing started around there. Later in my teens it evolved to just dancing. I wrote poems and short stories, but insecure as I was at that period of time, I kept them to myself.”
When Sumie was a little older, she tried recording and collaborating with other artists, but never felt right about the final product. When she gave birth to her first child, she also lost someone important to her, Sumie says this time, “Gave me a clearer direction of who and where I wanted to be, so I started to dare and share my songs on myspace (around 2007).”
And thankfully she did, and thankfully the Bella Union record label found her. Her most recent album, Lost in Light, was released on November 10th, 2017 and she’s currently writing her next.
She wants her current and new fans to know, “There are too many times I find myself wanting to share [my writing] with an audience before I start to record them in the studio, so I hope there will be some good opportunities next year or maybe later this year [to produce and share them with you].”