Where are they now? - Susie Woodbridge (aka Zanna)

This is the first in a number of posts celebrating the faithfulness of some of the people I have had the good fortune to stand alongside and cheer on over the years: a way of rejoicing in the success of others, and of encouraging still others to go with their dreams.

In this post, we catch up with Susie Woodbridge, a familiar name for those of us who have been connected with New Wine in recent years, not only with Susie's worship leading, but with her contribution to the songs we are singing - in particular the song "Spirit Fall".

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Where do you live at the moment, why do you love being there, and what are you up to?

Currently, I live in Los Angeles. I've been volunteering as the director of worship at a church plant (Bread LA) for just under two years, and helping out with pretty much anything else that's needed - classic church plant life.

I love LA, and not just for the sun! It's a city that promises many opportunities to those who make their way here - which also means it's inundated with people searching for something bigger, better, shinier. Overall, one of the things I've mostly loved is encouraging authenticity and honesty in myself and anyone I've met here, because it's hard to come by. 

How did your first release come about? What other recordings have you been involved with?

I became part of the New Wine Worship band when I was 19, and so was naturally involved in summer conference recordings, songwriting retreats and album releases every year until I moved here. That's also how I met Bubba McCarthy and Willie Weeks who co-wrote and produced my Zanna EP 'On Repeat' with me - who are working with amazing artists now, including John Newman and Matt Redman (respectively). They're flipping awesome guys. 

Tell us a little bit about your journey and a worship leader, musician, singer and songwriter. Who have been your main influences?

I've been leading worship and writing songs for over 10 years now, and I've had a lot of experienced people in both the Christian and mainstream contexts encourage me every step of the way. During that time I've led worship in London and in the US, attended songwriting retreats with New Wine and Integrity, worked for Warner Music UK, and been in studio sessions with Universal Music. 

If you take opportunities, more opportunities arise. My influences are pretty diverse; I listen to a lot of United Pursuit, and at the same time, Kendrick Lamar? Maybe all of that influences how I write; if so I'm okay with it. 

What are you hoping that your songs and recordings will contribute to people who listen to them.

I want to write songs that people connect with - whether that is a worship song that enables someone to have an experience of God, or whether it's a non-worship song that taps into a normal human emotion. I feel like every songwriter wants that.

How do you keep yourself sharp creatively?

A couple of things: I think it's good to listen to a variety of different music, so you don't get stuck in a rut stylistically; to stay away from social media when you're trying to write, because social media kills creativity (drastic but true, dm me for details); to engage with your emotions so you can write something honest and real; and to go for it - push the boundaries, write an unexpected melody, write a lyric that's not been written - it doesn't matter if it's weird. 

What would you say are your biggest dreams at the moment? Where do you hope to be in 10 years time and what do you want to be doing.

Songwriting is the thing that gives me the most life, whether it's for myself or for other artists! I'm connected with a lot of producers and writers in LA, and approaching some new things with management over here, and would love to use these gifts to the greatest of my ability.

As for 10 years, I'm open to pretty much whatever God has for me. He's the best at that stuff.