Sudan Archives was profiled in the latest issue of The New Yorker by writer Doreen St. Félix. The article follows Sudan through rehearsals for her Coachella performance and covers her latest album Natural Brown Prom Queen, playing the violin by ear, her move to Los Angeles from Ohio and more.
“Do you listen to Sudan Archives?” Most of the time, but not every time, the response to this question is one of confusion. How can one listen to the archives of a country? Sudan Archives is, in fact, a twenty-nine-year-old musician—a singer, rapper, producer, arranger, lyricist, and violinist. She creates a “fiddle-punk sound,” as she describes it, that blends folk, ambient, soul, house, and whatever other tradition she feels is available for the taking. Sudan (the name that her colleagues, her fans, and, increasingly, her intimates call her) begins composing by striking a riff on one of her five violins, which she uses differently from most other American producers.
A balladeer trots out the strings, like a show dog, to heighten the atmosphere of desperation in songs that are meant to be performed by destroyed women and repentant men. Sudan pursues technical, rather than emotional, manipulation. She is the violin’s domme. The songs creep into existence in her basement studio, where the two of them can be alone. A D.I.Y. queen, Sudan will pump a riff into her digital-production program to deconstruct it. She can coax from the violin the sounds of an accordion, a guitar, a drum. A string orchestra. “I can perform my song live and have twenty violins,” she explained. “And they’re all me.”