20 Years Later, A Space Lady Revival

20 Years Later, A Space Lady Revival
Photo: Flickr/Man Alive!
By Camden Avery - Published on April 14, 2014.
More than 20 years after her performances were finally set down and recorded, a former local street performer called the Space Lady is experiencing a comeback.

Suzy Sounds, born Susan Dietrich Schneider, spent the late 1970s and early 1980s conducting street performances in San Francisco's Upper Haight and in Berkeley (and Boston). Suzy and her husband, Joel, were artists who dropped out of society and went off the grid to avoid the draft; she supported their family by playing music on the street.

The Space Lady was known for wearing a plastic Viking helmet and playing pop covers (like Bowie's "Major Tom" or The Doors' "20th Century Fox") as well as songs of her own—and her husband's—composition.

Her instruments of choice were an accordion and, later, a modified Casio keyboard. Her voice has the spooky clarity of a 1960s folk singer (think the McGarrigles) but her instrumentals are a neat coda to the Barbarella soundtrack (loopy French pop) and an oddly precise prelude to sounds like Stereolab: spacey, echoey, serene.

This is a 1990 San Francisco recording of her song "Synthesize Me". (Give yourself a while, because her YouTube offerings are worth getting lost in.)

Last year, seemingly out of the blue, Night School Records released "The Space Lady's Greatest Hits," which features remastered versions of a series of songs recorded in 1990.

Since then, she's made the UK Guardian's list of the top 101 Strangest Recordings on Spotify, given a full-length feature interview in Vice magazine, and started off on a multi-month international tour with select stops in the US and a whole bunch of appearances in the UK.

Though the Space Lady played one of her only US tour dates earlier this year at the Elbo Room, we're hoping she'll be returning. We'll keep you posted when she comes back around.