Susie Wilkins got her start singing in Hong Kong nightclubs in the mid-’90s, and after two full-length albums, an EP, and a spot opening for Joe Jackson on his 2008 tour, the English singer-songwriter is readying She Got Me Good, a four-track EP and her first new music in six years. It’s also her most honest record to date, as she sings openly about being a lesbian for the first time.
“My wife was the inspiration for She Got Me Good, as she is for most of my songs,” Wilkins tells NewNowNext. “I wanted to capture that rush you feel at the beginning of a relationship—how the slightest glance or touch feels electric. I also wanted it to have a broader layer of meaning that expresses the pure joy of falling in love with a woman, coming out and finally finding the right fit, so to speak.”
Closeted for most of her career, Wilkins said she was often encouraged not to come out—but she’s not willing to hide anymore.
“Musically I’ve always endeavored to be soulful and honest, but with this EP I wanted to make sure the lyrics matched the music,” she says. “I felt like the moment was right for me to stand up, speak out and be proud, especially given the current political climate.”
And although she once appreciated a little mystery, Wilkins wants to be more transparent about who she is as a musician and a person.
“While I want my music to reach as many people as possible, I particularly want to reach LGBTQI people whose lives still aren’t reflected enough in popular culture,” she explains. “My 15-year-old self would’ve given anything to hear a female artist sing openly about ‘she’ and ‘her.’ So that’s part of why it was so important for me to make it clear that I’m singing about a woman.”
Wilkins’ bluesy rock has been compared to Jeff Buckley and Janis Joplin, and she hopes listeners find She Got Me Good balances “the directness of rock ’n roll and the more thoughtful craft of songwriting.”
“I think the time is right for something raw, direct and less produced—and I’m doing my bit,” she says. “I don’t know that the industry has ever been a friendly place to be honest, especially if you don’t pick a box and stay in it.”
She Got Me Good is out October 20.