Melbourne artist Becky Sui Zhen, known better as simply Sui Zhen, has had a huge year. She released her excellent solo record Secretly Susan, marking a return to more pop-skewed songs and has also been playing with Melbourne beatmakers NO ZU. As such, she’s been taken around Australia playing countless shows at festivals like Strawberry Fields and BIGSOUND and has also taken her talents overseas, playing most recently in New York City.
Secretly Susan was an album that traversed everything from Grimes-esque pop to minimal electronica with a number of eccentric details in between. It’s a fascinating listen that feels like a daydream while still remaining memorable. Just by listening we knew that Zhen’s influences were far-reaching so we got her to put together a list of ten songs she’s listening to right now and she’s delivered just as we thought. It’s probably one of the most eccentric in.’s yet meaning you’re bound to discover some new music by diving into this mix of perky, groove-ready beats.
If you’re looking to see Zhen before the year is out then you’re in luck. She’s playing Melbourne’s OFFTHEGRID festival with names like Cut Copy and Banoffee. It’s completely powered by renewable energy solutions meaning you can boogie the night away regret-free.
In the meantime, check out Zhen’s list and read why she chose each song.
This exercise was harder than you would think; I use SoundCloud for mixes mainly. A lot of the producers and labels I follow will use it primarily for their live DJ mixes, or to show snippets or edits of tracks. So I had to dig deep to find full tracks online. It kind of took me on a wonderful journey discovering newer releases I hadn’t heard yet, and then some old favourites. I hope you like it!
Apiento & Co – ESP (Lexx Remix)
This track is such an uplifting summer Balearic mellow house track. It has refreshing bubbly synths and lively congas to bring you closer to that tropical waterside playground you often daydream about on long summer days. A consistent spoken vocal gives a sense of an omnipresent guide and keeps things grounded.
Max Essa – Penninsula (Aficionado Recordings)
Max Essa is really good at this kind of introspective Balearic house production. This one feels like we’re traveling at mid-high speed cruising hard through the ocean to our next destination. I think of large expanses of skies and that perhaps we’re not limited to the sea level. We could be taking off above the clouds.
Finis Africae – Suite Amazonica (Meditations)
So now we’ve landed in some exotic land. We’re getting a feel for the local culture and it is vibrant and happening. This one has a very nice rhythmic feel with marimba, nylon guitar, layered hand percussion and some baritone reed instruments. It has a wonderful playful and lively movement and I’m not quite sure what territory I am in but it is wonderfully intricate and alive.
Dominique Dumont – Comme ca!
This is easily one of my favourite tracks of the year. You can play the whole album through and it keeps up a great danceable rhythm, with looping melodies and vocals reminiscent of Isabelle Antena on Camino Del Sol. but a little more housey. I would highly recommend getting this album for your summer parties.
Ruf Dug – Mosquito
I absolutely love the synth bass conversing with the toy synth melody in this track. The drum machines are popping off and really carry us into a marco mosquito flight. Ruf Dug recently played the Endless Sunset party at Hugs & Kisses in Melbourne and created an excellent party vibe. A great DJ with some really nice tracks on his limited pressing of Island, released on Kenneth Bager’s Music For Dreams (another SoundCloud worth following if you like the Balearic mellow house tip).
Crest Of A Wave – Brenda und Basso
Brenda Ray and Basso are an excellent duo. Brenda Ray (Naffi) is excellent at using reggae rhythms to create deep hypnotic grooves peppered with her melodica solos. I’ve been buying records from Basso over in Hamburg (Growing Bin Records) for a few years and following his eclectic mixes for new inspirations. I love the ebb and flow of this track, it’s really relaxing and fun.
Sean Nicholas Savage & Better Person – Can’t Do a Thing (To Stop Me) [Chris Isaak Cover]
This is a brilliant cover by one of my all-time contemporary favourites, Sean Nicholas Savage with Better Person, plus it is a Chris Isaak cover. I think this cover demonstrates how amazing he is at channelling raw emotions into song that really invites you to feel what he is feeling. I love most of his work and was delighted to hear this collab while discovering a new artist in Better Person. Check out his stuff too!
NO ZU – High Gloss
Okay so something local! I play in NO ZU but I wasn’t a member when this track was originally jammed out. I came in closer to the end of production and contributed the Korg M1 you’ll hear throughout the Afterlife record coming out next year. I love Nic Oogjes (Papa Zu, band leader) vision for dance music. It is at once fantastic, deep groove, funk slap bass and hyperactive. The chorus lyric ‘You’re just so innocent, I don’t care, this city’s high gloss yeah, YEAH!’ has to be one of the funnest lyrics for me to sing with Daphne on stage.
Anna Holmer and Steve Moshier – Fe Che
I was checking out new releases on RVNG and found this unusual track. I first heard of RVNG when Julia Holter released through them and I have been following them since. They’ve got an amazing roster of artists making really interesting non-conventional pop music for those craving a little more depth and experimentation. This track really stood out to me with its unique trance like vocal, distant droning synth and washing machine drum sound. Cool stuff.
Len Leise – Stars For Jorge
Another local on the more Balearic house tip again. There is a nice selection of samples and electric instrumentation within this arrangement; it really has a nice feeling in Len Leise’s production. It quietly grows in the hearts and minds of party goers looking to get closer to that holiday feeling in their daily lives.