Violinist and vocalist Sudan Archives uses African history, power and beauty to break stereotypes and boundaries; and she’s just getting started
Written by Husam Elgeneid
Producer, composer and self-taught violinist and vocalist, Sudan Archives, is a breath of fresh air in the world of music. Popular imagination commonly identifies the violin with Western classical traditions – you think orchestras, string quartets and concert halls, before any association with R&B, electronic music, or West and Northeast African fiddles and rhythms. Finding her inspiration in the latter, Archives has broken such stereotypes in her debut EP. Born as Brittney Denise Parks, nicknamed Sudan by her mother, and going by the name Sudan Archives – you can feel the multicultural and multidimensional elements of her personality unfold in her music. Her organic love of culture can be seen from her name, music, and down to her look. Her Instagram page alone will take you through a journey of African history, power and divine beauty. A radiant young woman with a cool aesthetic; her personal style summed by Vogue as “a modern mash-up of traditional Ghanaian garments and contemporary minimalism”.
Her song ‘Come Meh Way’ epitomizes her flexibility and creativity. The words “land throw, free throws” open up the song to just that – a musical free throw. Layers of instruments, harmonies, vocals, and beats that conform to no one style or trend, and see no limits or boundaries. ‘Wake Up’, in true Archive style, is completely different to the song that precedes it – sounding more like classical music, laced in an ethereal wave of vocals. For SZA and Kelela lovers, ‘Goldencity’ is the perfect blend of neo-soul, alternative R&B, electronic and African folk sounds. It’s the kind of music that you don’t know you love until you hear it. The song fades into the sounds of the ocean, a relaxing and blissful vibe, as if the words in the song were coming alive – “no more pain, no more pain in my name (no more)”.
Archives is able to package complex and dynamic sounds with the perfect amount of serenity and fluidity. At the age of only 23, she encompasses a level of purity and authenticity that even some of the most established artists of today have been unable to do. Through a collection of only six songs, she has managed to pull on the strings of familiarity, bringing the past into the present, whilst propelling both into the future. In an age where trends are binding and mediocrity sells, Archives represents a refreshing challenge to the norm. Although only at the very beginning of her career, onwards and upwards is the only trajectory for such a creative mind. Authentic, unparalleled, futuristic, and African-influenced – what’s not to love?