Ady Suleiman is a rare breed – an artist who’s signed to Syco without having appeared on a talent show. But listening to his music, it’s clear to see why the label took interest in the 24-year-old.
When he talks to Music Week, Suleiman is getting ready to do some string arranging for his forthcoming debut album, which is set for release later this year. “The album’s like 80% done,” he says. “It’s getting there. Most of the tracks are done, unless I write a banger between now and when it comes out, then I’ll try to rush that one on.”
He adds: “It’s a weird one, because I feel like so much comes together in the early stages of making an album, then tying everything together is a bit more fiddly. It’s a weird moment, sitting back and listening to a track, going, Yeah, this is done, I don’t want to do anything else to it. You always want to improve it. It’s nerve-wracking, but I’m excited to put it out.”
Even the Nottingham artist admits that his label deal with Syco is “weird”, but he points out: “At the end of the day, I kind of look at all major labels in a really similar way. They’re all big corporate companies that want to sell a lot of records and want to have hits.
“I think the reason I chose Syco was because they let me set up my own imprint, Pemba, so I can release all my music with my own branding on there. The other reason was because the fact that they have everyone else through The X Factor means I don’t really have much competition. I feel special on the label, and they want to put time into me.”
He continues: “When I signed, it was very early days in my head. I’d only written five or six songs; I was still at uni. When you sign to a label, they want to get the record done pretty fast, but Syco understood that I wanted time to develop, time to finish my course and time to go back to Nottingham and write songs there. An album wasn’t going to come immediately. Other labels, I thought they probably couldn’t afford me that luxury of waiting.”
Suleiman plans to eventually use his label to support other artists, saying: “I was talking to Labrinth, he set up [Syco imprint] OddChild - he said, It’s all good having your own label, but it’s nice when you’ve got time to develop other artists and help break their careers. I’m so focussed on mine at the moment that it’d be kind of silly to put all my efforts into someone else, but in the future I’d love to find acts, or even just put out a song I really like.”
With big plans for Pemba, it’s a good thing Suleiman is making a name for himself, not just with his own EPs, but with appearances elsewhere too.
“Someone had a contact to a guy called Nate Fox, who produced a lot of the Acid Rap mixtape for Chance The Rapper,” he explains. “I heard he was in town and got a meeting with him, which was dope. I played him some stuff; I wanted to work with him while he was in London, but I was on tour with Fat Freddy’s Drop and he wasn’t in town for that long. I flew out to LA a couple of weeks later to do some work with him. We were predominantly working on my tracks, which went really well.
“I was in LA for a couple of weeks, then on the last night, I hadn’t been out in Hollywood so I was having a few pre-drinks, getting ready for my last night out, when Nate called me up, saying Chance wanted me to come to the studio. I got a cab down, went in, and they were working on the Donnie Trumpet [& The Social Experiment] Surf record.”
Suleiman jokes: “I would like to work with him again when I’m not so drunk, but it was a lot of fun. The whole way those guys make music is great, they’re all mates and there are no massive egos in there. Everyone can chip in ideas; it’s such a collaborative way of working.”