Mosaic Music | “Did You Know” – Sudan Archives


Sarah Beltran, Senior Staff Writer

Artists are always looking to innovate, often by combining the old and the new. Experimental R&B artist Sudan Archives has created an approach to producing that is a mosaic of life experience and ethnomusicology. 

She taught herself violin at a young age, drawing influence from Sudanese fiddling. After years of playing violin on loop pedals, she began to connect the dots of her sound, looking to Cameroonian electronic artist Francis Bebey for inspiration. By combining her passion for violin with her love for ethnomusicology and electronic experimentalism, she creates beats that resonate with both her as an artist and as a person. This is apparent in her song Did You Know from her debut album Athena.

Opening the album, “Did You Know” begins with the bare plucking of violin strings, as if it is the beginning of Sudan’s story. She plays off this narrative with her words, “When I was a little girl, I thought I could rule the world.” When the chorus line “Did you know?” finally comes, that’s when her one-of-a-kind beat drops. However, the violin is still lurking beneath the surface. 

As the narrative unfolds, Sudan’s rose-colored glasses come off. She discusses a lover, who never liked her “fussy baby hairs,” finding someone who has smoothed baby hairs. In an interview with Stereogum, she spoke on  the frustrations of being a black woman, specifically the discrimination against natural hair. She and her twin sister faced these realities as they got into their teen years, when Sudan first started writing “Did You Know.”

So, after years of cultivating her artistry, she is finally able to tell this story the way she wants. Sudan Archives uses her musicality to express the deeper roots of her story and self, pushing her songs to the next level.

Featured image by Jack Mckain; retrieved from Strings Magazine.