5 things Susan SurfTone had to overcome
How does a girl like Susan Yasnicki, a.k.a. Susan SurfTone, get from being an FBI agent to becoming a rock star? Through patience, drive, and a commitment to do what you want to do despite your limitations.
Here are five things Susan SurfTone had to overcome on the road to multiple successes.
Susan SurfTone: Being a lesbian FBI Agent
Susan used to be a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). And because Susan was a lesbian, she was afraid that the bureau would take her sexual orientation against her.
Fortunately, she learned there were others like her in the FBI who managed to survive despite such discrimination.
“Of course there were more of us. My girlfriend finally got sick of not being able to go to gay bars. We walked in, and sitting at the bar was another agent,” Susan said.
Susan SurfTone: Musician, not agent
When Susan decided she wanted to become a musician, she asked her supervisor at the FBI if it was possible she could be both musician and FBI agent.
“I wanted to start a band when I worked for the Bureau in NYC and I wanted to play at CBGB’s. I asked my supervisor if that would be okay with the Bureau. He said no and about six months later I quit to play CBGB’s,” she related.
Susan SurfTone: Heading a rock band
Susan’s move to become a musician stemmed all the way from her childhood dream of listening to early ’60s surf-rock. That’s why she took up guitar lessons at the age of nine.
However, she found that many people believed that girls couldn’t be lead guitarists in high school– much more a lesbian! That didn’t stop her later on.
“I still don’t think female guitarists get the encouragement to step out and play lead guitar. To be a non-singing lead guitarist and be a woman is still rare. There are some of us, but not many,” Susan said.
“It takes a lot of confidence and you often have to find that within yourself,” she added.
Susan SurfTone: Guitarist, not singer
Though Susan headed her own band– Susan and the SurfTones– she was the lead guitarist, not the vocalist.
“I knew at an early age that I was no vocalist so the instrumental songs with strong clear melody lines caught my ear and many of those were surf rock,” she admitted.
However, for 2016, she decided to sing her own songs.
“I chose to cover ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ because it was the second song Elvis Presley ever recorded. On this song, he’s not a polished vocalist and neither am I. He’s singing in a higher key because he’s young, only 19, and that higher key is easier for me,” said Susan.
Susan SurfTone: Going solo and being a lesbian
When Susan came out publicly in 2009 as a lesbian, it was her mother’s death that led her to do this.
“My mother was Italian-American, and being gay was just not accepted in her culture,” she said. This freedom of accepting who she was helped her decide to come out with a solo album in 2011.
For more on Susan, you can check Lesbian News latest issue for our feature on her. You can check out her latest single in the video below!