Suki Waterhouse is a genuine triple threat — model, actor and now indie-pop musician.
The delicate London-born songwriter blew up on TikTok for her emotional songs and her dance moves, where fans scrolling through the app had no preconceived notions about her as a model or actor. Now, she’s gearing up to embark on her first-ever headlining tour.
Waterhouse, 30, was discovered at 16 and went on to have a long modeling career and star in movies like Love, Rosie. She also made headlines for her relationship history, dating Bradley Cooper and now being in a long-term, low-profile relationship with Twilight actor Robert Pattinson.
Now, after releasing her collection of songs Milk Teeth she’s hyper-focused on creating indie-pop ballads and bops that will make you cry or dance — think Metric meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs with cinematic singles.
The music has spilled over into her acting career. She’s starring in the much-anticipated television version of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s wildly popular novel Daisy Jones & the Six as the Fleetwood Mac-inspired band’s keyboardist, Karen.
AP caught up with Waterhouse from London on Halloween (where she had just returned from a gothic-themed wedding, as is expected from the ultimate “it” girl) to talk about how she almost deleted the song that made her an unexpected TikTok star, why she was so obsessed with starring in Daisy Jones and the importance of vinyl.
Your vinyl recording of Milk Teeth is coming out. What has that experience been like?
I’ve just been signing the vinyl and had such a moment where I thought, “This is so unbelievably surreal.” This is my second vinyl this year. How on earth did this happen?
What can people expect from the new music?
Milk Teeth is a collection of songs that I wrote in the last seven years. They’d always been released separately or really haphazardly because I would be trying to figure out how uploading sites worked and scrappily putting everything together. They’re a collection of songs I worked on with the same group of friends I’ve been working with up until now.
It feels like this huge victory on vinyl, to have something tangible that can live in people’s houses. It’s so special to me because the vinyl I’ve had traveled around with me everywhere and have gone from every place I’ve ever lived. I collect vinyl — they’re little pieces you get from the wild that you bring home.
What are your favorite albums that you have on vinyl?
I’ll listen to Aimee Mann’s Mental Illness album over and over again. I have Elvis Costello and a bunch of Aretha Franklin. I have a bunch of Yeah Yeah Yeahs records and Crush Songs by Karen O, which was her solo record. That’s the most unbelievable record to have on vinyl. They’re tiny little snippets that are so incredibly underproduced, just Karen wailing. I’m always watching videos of Karen O before I go onstage. That’s the queen.
Speaking of your onstage performances, they went super viral on TikTok. Were you surprised to see that?
Yes, it was terrifying. That whole experience was really just trippy for me because it happened in tandem with my record coming out. “Good Looking” was a song that I think was released about six years ago. I wrote it in my apartment and recorded it in the most dodgy DIY way. That whole TikTok moment happened as my record was coming out, which was divine timing.
I felt this wave from the past of the song getting this new fire underneath it and getting recognized in a way it never had been before. It was a strange moment because before we put out the record, the record label and my management said, “Can we delete this old music? Get rid of ‘Good Looking’ and all these old songs?” And I’m like, “No way.” Those songs are everything to me. They’re where everything started. They came from a real need to start putting them out.
Did it feel like the people who were finding you on TikTok knew you as a model or an actor? Or were they finding you fresh?
I think there’s a bunch of new people. Obviously, that part of my life informed so much, but also, I didn’t want that part of my life to define my whole life. I’ve always found it difficult to escape it in some way and was trying to find the different parts of myself through music and connect with people. I’m grateful for modeling, but it left me disconnected, and music was the way I was trying to find a connection.
Sometimes you think you think it’s gonna be a scarier thing to grow and change, and you think you’re not going to be allowed to. The monster in your head is way bigger than it actually is. People are way more open to you evolving than you’d think.
And on the topic of evolution, I know you’ve been writing music since you were 13. Would you take time off from it, or was it always in the back of your mind?
When I was 13 or 14, I was intensely focused on that. I got to have a long time writing and doing it entirely for myself. For the last 10 years, it’s always been something I’d be doing in private a lot. When it’s not something at the forefront, you don’t talk about it as much, but I was still intensely working on it, and it was constantly on my mind. Even doing my first record, I wasn’t consciously doing it to make an album. I got to the point where I was like, “You have to get over yourself. You’re never going to be ready.”
I basically did a strange, unlike-myself thing and reached out to the producer I admired the most, Brad Cook. I asked if I could come to North Carolina so we can make a record together. I didn’t have Sub Pop involved at that time. It was very much, “I’m gonna make the record I want to make.” Once that was made, I was proud of it and wanted to release it with a label.
Part of that record was the single “Nostalgia,” which had such a beautiful and cinematic music video. How did that come about?
My friend Émilie Richard-Froozan is the most incredible music video director and writer. We’ve known each other since I was 15. We were both lamenting on nostalgia as a concept — how ridiculous and outlandish feelings can be. We have that relationship where we can talk on the phone for hours and there’s no stone unturned. We started playing with the idea of having a Tom Hardy-era Wuthering Heights concept behind the video. And she had been spending time in Ireland. During the tour, we started planning, and I had a week off. In the middle of the tour, we were Wuthering Heights phone call cosplaying, and we decided that was going to be the concept for the video. Then I flew out to Ireland, and it was the most stunning place I’ve ever been. It was like an adult summer camp.
You even had horseback riding, like summer camp.
The weather in Ireland is pretty good, but it was literally raining 80% of the time, and we were trying to get on the back of a horse and ride it through the sea.
Coming up, you’re starring in Daisy Jones & the Six. Has that ‘70s rock era inspired your music at all while working on the show?
Yeah, it did. We went to Sound City Studios in Los Angeles to start practice. It’s one of the most famous iconic studios where Fleetwood Mac basically met. There were the most insane rock legends — I don’t even think I’m allowed to say. This was all while we were rehearsing and coming together as a band. I’ve pretty much every day for two years been doing two to three hours of piano. That widened how I could construct songs.
I started writing a lot more. I was around Tony Berg every day, who’s unbelievable. There’s the best gear everywhere. It was a haven for inspiration. Playing a rock star was this strange crossover that led me towards making my own record.
Were you a fan of the book beforehand?
Yes. Big time. I was obsessed with Daisy Jones & the Six and was fully going into my agent’s office saying “I have to be in there.” I was a woman obsessed. I was flying for extra auditions, even though they were like, “No, no, we’ve seen you.” I’m a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, obsessed with [the] things she puts out.
I did. Did you read Carrie Soto Is Back, her latest one?
Oh, my God, that’s so good as well. I started Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo a few months ago, and no one could even contact me or speak to me for the entire day-and-a-half, but I read it.
I’m so excited for people to see [Daisy Jones]. I’m such a huge fan of everybody in the show as well. Riley Keough is unbelievably stunning and creative and an unbelievable actress. And Cami Morrone as well. I’m such a huge fan of the women in the show.