Denver singer-songwriter Teresa Suydam set out to write 500 songs in 2021. The goal was an impressive artistic feat by any measure, and doubly so considering that 2021 was such a collectively troublesome year. It would take anyone a lot of effort, but Suydam has proven her resilience: She is happy to report that she wrote 509 songs.
“I was writing two or three songs a day,” Suydam says. “It really took my writing and thinking to a whole other level. I knew going into it I wouldn’t produce all of these songs, because that’s just crazy. I basically learned there are 500 ways to write a song.”
Suydam says she wrote instrumentals, a cappellas and “singer-songwriter stuff.” She jokes that there are only so many ways to tell someone you love them in song, but she found the output and its thematic content to be very eclectic and rewarding.
“It was a good mental exercise,” she says. “It was quite a bit toward the end. I’m still continuing to write. I’m going to aim for 500 a year going forward, but now writing a song in a day is no problem. My ability to create music is much faster, which is pretty cool.”
Four of the songs she wrote in 2021 make up Suydam’s new EP, Love Me, which drops on Friday, January 28, as a followup to her self-titled EP from last year. She says the songs are more authentic, which she attributes to sharing ideas and working with other songwriters and mentors who helped her hone her craft.
“Everything feels cleaner,” she says. “It just feels like more of my artistry and more of the brand I’m going for. My first one was like my first love. I put everything I had in it. Now it’s all next-level.”
Suydam says the lead track on the EP, “Offer Up Yourself,” made it to the top ten of 93.3 Colorado Alternative’s Hometown for the Holidays 2021 competition. She was pleasantly surprised by the success of the song, which concerns accepting yourself and not worrying about what others think.
The other three tracks on the EP are also about empowerment. “Do It Right” was written with a new producer, Aaron Daniels, of Aaron Daniels Music, and composed while the two were feeling each other out as new collaborators. Suydam envisioned the song as being straightforward pop, while Daniels brought more R&B and soul to the composition.
“What we came up with is really cool and different,” Suydam says. “It’s like pop, but it’s also a song that builds throughout the whole piece. It’s very empowering. It goes back to these songs [being] all about loving yourself, knowing you are enough.”
She says “You’re a Goddess” is the “token ballad” on the EP, though it started off faster and with more hip-hop inflections. When Suydam and Daniels decided to add cello and backing vocals, the song took a different direction.
“We kind of slowed everything down,” she says. “It became this beautiful ballad; it’s stunning. I really love this track.”
Suydam says that the final track, “Edge of Love,” is what reflects her artistry as a whole.
“We created a storyline with the instrumentals,” she says. “They complemented the lyrics, and it just became this huge anthemic song that I’m super proud of.”
Suydam, who is half First Nations Ojibwe, just found out last week that she is nominated for a Native American Music Award for "Best Folk/Americana Video" for her song “Take Me to the Water,” released last year. So far, 2022 seems like a pretty good year, and she hopes to get some of her music placed in television and movies.
“In my personal life, I’m just kind of coasting,” Suydam says. “My music life is kind of taking off, which is cool and kind of a weird juxtaposition.”
Love Me drops Friday, January 28. Vote for the Native American Music Awards at surveymonkey.com until March 31. Suydam is listed on the ballot as "Take Me To The Water - Teresa Suydam (Ojibwe Roseau River Band)." For more information, visit teresasuydam.com.