A Day In The Life Of Two Artists From Opposite Sides Of The World
The parallel lives of Sui Zhen and Mikael Seifu, in Australia and Ethiopia.
Sui Zhen, Melbourne, Australia: Waking up, I check my Bandcamp to see how many slipmats I’ve sold. Eleven! That’s pretty cool.
Sui Zhen: Cycling to the pool through Fitzroy, I laugh at a group of elderly women with large great danes. They seem kind of amused by me also.
Sui Zhen: In the sauna, a man asks me, “Is it hot in here?” I look at him, unsure where he’s going with this… “I mean, like, hotter than usual?”
Mikael Seifu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia I make Firfir for breakfast—a traditional dish that’s easy to make, provided that you have its spicy sauce at hand.
Sui Zhen: At my desk, I cut up an orange, peel my eggs, and pour a glass of water. I work casually for Art Processors as a producer/designer/marketing person.
Mikael Seifu: Watching Cowboy Bebop OVA, an anime picked out of my cousin’s collection. I find myself gravitating back toward it from time to time.
Sui Zhen: I meet up with Ellice from the band Pearls. We talk about a festival we’re playing soon and good places to camp afterwards.
Mikael Seifu: Having Spreese (tea & coffee mix) and head out for a quick walk round the neighborhood. The drink can sure make one restless.
Sui Zhen: Before a meeting, I spend a few minutes outside under some trees to get into the headspace to talk to academic curators.
Mikael Seifu: At Buhé Studio, I catch up with Endeguena Mulu (aka Ethiopian Records), and hear about his awesome upcoming projects and the musicians he met recently.
Sui Zhen: Everyone at work is playing with some beautiful micro-synths my colleague Nic made at his home workshop.
Mikael Seifu: I’m in a rush, so I have the most uneventful, quick lunch one could imagine. I didn’t taste the food.
Mikael Seifu: I showered and decided to shave. Realised midway through shaving that the beard, however unkempt, was much better.
Mikael Seifu: On taxi to Megenagna square. Glad I can sit comfortably in the taxi—they can get packed real fast when sharing with others.
Sui Zhen: I leave work for the week as I fly interstate for a gig on the weekend. Outside, a storm is rolling in and I want to beat the rain.
Mikael Seifu: At the coffee house, my friend DJ Jazzy Dave is mixing for a band led by Henok Temesgen, the best Ethiopian bassist I know. Jazzy Dave shows me his freshest productions on his laptop. I’m hearing Ethiopian folk-infused house & hip-hop.
Sui Zhen: “Beakles!”—my Mum calls me on the phone as I’m cycling. She’s really proud because I received some grants to make my next album and go to Japan for a residency.
Mikael Seifu: I’m at a café in Bole, on a small balcony with lots of people passing, asking myself if I should catch a flick till my friends call.
Sui Zhen: At Kung Fu training, I change into white feiyue shoes and loose black pants which make a great whooshing sound when I do my kicks.
Mikael Seifu: All the local flicks were sold out, so I’m watching Hollywood stuff at the cinema and fell asleep. 80 birr down the drain.
Sui Zhen : I wish my grandpa could see the Kung Fu training I’m doing. He did it his whole life, and it protected him in Malaysia when people would try to mug him.
Mikael Seifu: Stepped out for dinner around the Bole neighborhood. I eat honey and ginger fried steak—really awesome stuff.
Sui Zhen: I have to ride about 11km to get to rehearsals with my band NO ZU. I go to my house, have the fastest shower, and grab some snacks, vocal pedals, and percussion.
Mikael Seifu: A group of old friends has formed. One of them is silently playing Sudoku. I’m thinking I should learn how to play Sudoku.
Sui Zhen: The band is already deep into a jam, and I join Daphne with my harmony on “Handcuffed to a Mindless Mantra.”
Mikael Seifu: At a lounge called Absinthe, which is dimly light and has this outlier vibe to it compared to other spots on Fridays in Addis.
Sui Zhen: I make plans with Andrew Noble, the NO ZU drummer, to cover Sade’s “When Am I Going to Make a Living.” We both love that song.
Sui Zhen: I am excited about my music day tomorrow—the reward for keeping such a tight routine. I set up all my Sui Zhen band gear ready.
Mikael Seifu: Ethiopian Records is on the selections. He’s playing inspiring tunes all round—some of his originals and other electronic music.
Sui Zhen: My brain is still buzzing, echoing the sounds of all the music I’ve consumed, so I try find some New Age mixes to help me sleep.
Mikael Seifu: Small groups are dancing all over the place. The musical energy has reached its peak, and my sister shows up to join in.
Mikael Seifu: Everyone’s still drinking—beer and mixed drinks—but I’m about ready to call it a night.
Mikael Seifu: On my way back home, and looking forward to crashing in the makeshift bed situation in the studio. The sofa is brutal, man.