On Saturday, July 11, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of The Collective’s many talented alumni on IGTV (@TheCollectiveNYC) : Sus Vasquez. Sus, who studied guitar at The Collective from 2017-2018, is nothing short of a Renaissance woman. From touring and recording with current Latin mega-stars like Karol G and Luis Fonsi, (If you don’t recognize the name of the latter, “Despacito” will most-likely ring a bell!) to starting her own all-female project, Top Queens, Sus has accomplished more in the few years she’s been outside of The Collective than most musicians manage to in a lifetime!
So when I sat down with Sus, her hair parted to the right side of her face while rocking a beaming, confident smile in her NYC apartment, I had to ask her how she keeps her work ethic so strong, even under the current circumstances in our world. She cites the most important factor being the culture of New York City and the environment of the school. “I always wanted to be in the city. The scene inspires you so much. After practicing for years in Colombia, I felt like in that one year of studying here, I got so much better.” She continued, “The city has this energy that is constantly driving you to make stuff…The Collective is in the middle of everything! It makes you push yourself faster.” Sus explained.
Another interesting fact is that Sus had primarily studied Jazz guitar at a music conservatory back in her home country of Colombia before coming to New York City. That style of playing is quite different from the rock, Latin, and Pop acts she’s been selling out shows across dozens of countries in the Americas and Europe with. When I asked her if The Collective had any influence on her stylistic change, Sus was very adamant about the school giving her the ability to expand her toolkit. “I wanted something a bit more customizable…The elective programs were really appealing to me. You don’t find many schools like that (The Collective.)”
Perhaps the most important note of our conversation was that by studying at The Collective, Sus was a guitarist in a school with a heavy focus on drumming…and she loved it. Most would assume a guitarist would want to be fully immersed in a guitar-centered learning environment. Sus laughed at the thought of it. A long, gold chain with a rectangular pendant swung from her left ear as she did. “Going to a school with way more drummers gave me a different mindset, a different approach to my instrument…I got out of my comfort, ‘Guitar’ Zone and practiced with as many drummers as I could. I got into a bunch of rhythm sections because there weren’t as many guitarists at The Collective.” She continued, “I remember taking classes where I was the only person studying an instrument that wasn’t the drums. Like Polyrhythms with Jason (Gianni)… I said ‘I’m gonna figure out how to do that on the guitar!’ It was amazing. I was experimenting and doing something I never thought of before.”
As you can see, Sus Vasquez is someone who refuses to shy away from a challenge. She takes what some people see as an obstacle, and uses it to her advantage. Her hustle is unparalleled. The kindness and positivity she radiates despite a high-stress lifestyle of constant touring and session work is infectious. One can tell that she is living her dream. She’s an unstoppable force in the booth, on the stage, and even in casual conversation!
If you’d like to hear more of the conversation for yourself, please check out the video below, or on our instagram. You can also book an amazing online private lesson with any of the amazing faculty Sus studied with by checking our Book Private Lessons Page. We have many more alumni conversations planned later this Fall, so stay tuned to hear more from the amazing students of The Collective!