Read the interview by Cristy Benvenutti, President of the North Jersey Blues Society, with Alexis Suter.
Artist Website: https://alexispsuter.com/home
NJBS: Can you tell me what inspired you to play the blues?
Alexis: When I first started singing, I grew up in church singing gospel, and then, I got into this style of musical house music, dance music. And after that little run, I met Vicki and Ray at Hipbone Records and we did a couple of house records. And one day, I was thinking, Vicki, you produce all these records, you mix them, you record them. We're so much more than house music. There's so much out there. I said, we should really explore the blues and we should explore Americana. I mean, songs that I really love. That wasn't really present in my growing up, you understand. A lot of Motown and all of that was happening, but a lot of Americana and all that wasn't happening. So, we decided to do a house track with them. Jimmy Bennett, playing the intro. And I was like, wow, see? That's it. We’ve got to do it. So, we started doing blues. And we just felt like it was a great avenue to explore. And we've been doing it ever since.
NJBS: Can you tell me what makes your band so special?
Alexis: Well, what makes them special is we all have a connection. Ray has known the Bennett brothers since they were young adults in their college days. Vicki and Ray met doing Broadway. He played drums for a chorus line, and she danced in a chorus line. And they've been together since I can't even tell you how long. But what makes this unit so special is that Vicki and Ray come from a Broadway background. And the Bennetts come from a blues-rock background. I come from a church blues background. This combination just makes the soup taste good. Because we can all collaborate and feed off each other and come up with some beautiful music. That's what makes them special to me that we're also different, but yet the same.
NJBS: I know you're working on a new release To You With Love. Can you talk about how you put that concept together?
Alexis: We've always been about love. That's always been my message. If you go back to the 90s, the early 80s and you have recordings of me or things that I'm saying, it's always been about love no matter where my life was at that time, the darkest spot, the best part, the middle We always want to keep that in the forefront. And the way things are going now I think that's needed more than ever. So that's going to be my message until I can't say it anymore. And I know there were people before me, there's going to be people after me. But I'm glad I'm in the group of people that will keep this message going.
NJBS: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Alexis: I like them all. We got one called “Big Girl Panties.” We have one called “Some People.” It's amazing. And I'm not just saying that because it's me. I'm saying it because it is!
NJBS: Do you have a targeted release date?
Alexis: Byron Isaacs is producing the record. He's with The Lumineers and the Loss Leaders. He's on tour a lot. In the meantime, we're raising money to complete the CD, so it sort of works out. When he comes back, whatever we have raised, we put towards that. And then we do another fundraiser until we get to our goal. I know it's rough on everybody right now. Look, if you can please donate anywhere from a dollar to whatever touches your heart, it all adds up. Please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/alexis-p-suter-band-new-album to make a donation.
NJBS: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Alexis: Yes, I do. It goes without saying that I pray. I get in the corner. And I say to God, I thank you for my life. I thank you for this opportunity. Please let us go out there and touch someone today. Please let us touch someone who came in one way but will leave differently. And thank you, God, for this time. Always. And then I'll get the band together. We'll hold hands. And I'll say what I say anybody else have anything else to say? They'll say it. And we'll go out there and do what we got to do.
NJBS: Do you have any funny or interesting stories from prior gigs that you'd care to share?
Alexis: I remember one time being up at Levon’s. We did The Ramble for quite a while. The Ramble would start at eight o'clock and go into four or five in the morning. There would be one person in the audience. The band is still playing, Little Sammy is still singing. There was one particular gig. This guy got up there. I forgot his name. It was really a cooky situation. And people were just looking at him like what is he doing? So, Levon from the back by his house door because it connected to where they perform said Get the hook! Get the hook! That meant to get his butt off that stage. That was a funny time. That was a funny time. I've many stories but that was funny. I owe so much to Levon. I can't even tell you the love. And he loved my mother. From time to time, he would call my mother every so often to say hello. I remember one time my mother's church was having a fundraiser for a new building. And they had the magazine and you could pay for an ad. I remember one night after this show, sitting in the back, he had a wad of money. He put it in my hand and said give this to your mother. Tell her to pray for me. And my mother put it into the building fund and gave us three large pages in the magazine. That's the kind of guy he was.
NJBS: If you're stuck on an island and you can only bring three albums which three albums, would you bring?
Alexis: Anything by Barry White. I would take anything by Levon. And I would take anything that my mother ever recorded.
NJBS: Do you have any words of wisdom for up-and-coming bands out there trying to make it in the music business?
Alexis: This business is not for the faint of heart. Don't think that you're going to come in and you'll be on top for a little while. Then you start moving down because they're going to be people coming behind you that are going to have that same fire. You just have to stay the course. Learn your business. Learn who helps take care of your business. Don't let anyone take care of all of your business. You get involved with your business.
NJBS: And my last question. Do you have any hobbies outside of music?
Alexis: Oh, gosh. Yes, I do. I love art. I love to create with my hands. Painting, jewelry, I get rocks painting. I mean, anything art. I love art. And I love clothes. I love fashion. That's my thing.