Blending melodies, classical violin techniques, and contemporary R&B beats, Sudan Archives is the must-listen of every season
Sudan Archives, also known as Brittney Denise Parks, is a genre-defying musician who has carved her own path within the music industry. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Sudan Archives discovered her passion for music at a young age and quickly developed her skills as a violinist, alongside drawing inspiration from a diverse range of musical influences. After first hearing her debut EP, Sudan Archives, back in 2017, we have watched the artist garner unbounded critical acclaim and a dedicated following (alongside a playlist shoutout by Obama). Blending melodies, classical violin techniques, and contemporary R&B beats, Sudan’s following debut album, Athena, further solidified her reputation as the next in music. So as 2022 rolled around, we got to listen — on repeat— to her third album, the now iconic Natural Brown Prom Queen and speak with the connoisseur of sound!
Hey Sudan! How are you today?
I’m good. I’m just laying in bed.
Natural Brown Prom Queen, a never-ending congratulations! What was your experience like in creating this body of work?
Pretty easy actually! I made everything in my basement and anything else that was added to it was done remotely, so it was a really chill process.
Listening to the album, I felt a duality between it being deeply personal, but it’s also wildly exciting. Was this an intentional intersection that you wanted to create?
It’s hard to stick to one sound because I feel like my personality is kind of all over the place! So it was natural to have that duality. With this album, I was trying to hone in on how random I am and not look at it as a bad thing. Ultimately, I just think I have a lot of influences.
Could you maybe talk me through some of these?
Church and RnB and jazz…and I guess pop and folk music as well.
Selfish Soul has become one of the most listen to tracks and is a great introduction to this new chapter of Sudan Archives! Can you tell me about the creative process?
I just remember thinking that I really wanted to pick up the pace and make faster songs than I had done previously. That’s also kind of why I started to move more into a rapping style within Natural Brown Prom Queen. It turned into this crazy roller coaster ride, and I didn’t expect it to get that crazy, but that’s the only song in the album where there are four different BPMs throughout the song. The verses are a certain BPM, and then it gets faster, and then at the end, it gets slower. At first, we were like, is this going to be crazy? And then we were like, I guess we got to run with it.
There are a lot of songs which people have connected to on a deeper level on the album; Homesick, for example…
That was a song I originally made on my iPad, and I made it during Covid when things felt really bad and you couldn’t really leave the house. At this time, I was really missing where I was from and missing certain connections with people. I just felt like things weren’t the same anymore.
Your visuals for the album are also really strong! The OMG BRITT video is giving cyber-Barbie, punk aesthetics. What led you down this direction?
The only way to really talk shit about somebody is, like, doing a crazy rap trap song. And that was the energy I was in for this video. My team and I thought we needed to do something simple, with a white backdrop with a one-shot style…and then I knew that I wanted to smash my violin.
I was just about to ask about this moment, it is visually very powerful…
I wanted to break the conform, the violin and what that means, and people.
The album is already much-loved and embedded in people’s hearts (and playlists), reflecting on this, what was one of the main takeaways you wanted from the audience when listening?
I wanted people to move! And when I perform the songs, I see people definitely feel freer to dance — which I love. It was always important to me that the songs were received on stage the same way as on iTunes or Spotify. And a goal for me is always for people to think I am better live!