Two North Carolina brothers bond over a shared love for music.
by Michelle Boudin
Just a few days after their father died from cancer in 2017, Matt and Michael Susong had an impromptu jam session upstairs at their parents’ house, in their dad’s old music room.
“I had just gotten a piano, and I was working on this song,” Michael recalls. “And we were grooving, and the harmonies were good. We realized our voices clicked well. We came up with the chorus right there.”
His older brother Matt adds, “I remember mom sitting there watching us, and it was so fun. It was such a moment of clarity, realizing this is a special thing to be able to write a song together.”
Growing up in High Point, music was always a part of the brothers’ lives. The two men credit their father, who they say passed along his passion to his sons. Matt sang with the church choir, was part of an a cappella group in college and sang with a band after graduation. Michael toured with a band in college and later played regular gigs while living in L.A.
But the brothers rarely played together. Matt, 42, moved to Charlotte after college and now lives in SouthPark with his wife and two children. A technology manager at TIAA, he spends weekends as the frontman for the local band To Better Waters. Michael, 40, works with a marketing agency and lives in Winston-Salem with his fiance.
“Matt and I never were able to cross paths musically,” Michael says. “We lived in different places and had different tastes, so it wasn’t until Covid that Matt started sending me some songs. We had talked when my dad passed away about how we could try to strengthen our relationship and do music that we both love.”
Matt says losing their dad made them realize they should stop putting off the things they’d always talked about doing. “Our dad lived a full life, but he had a lot of plans, things he still wanted to do. [Losing him] really started us on the path of seizing a bit of the present.”
The two realized they could use technology to create music together, even while living in different cities. The result is the brother’s third collaboration, an EP titled we are in this together, which is available on most streaming platforms. Matt did most of the songwriting and vocals. Michael added the synthesizer and other instruments. They worked together online, often over Zoom, to perfect the sound.
“It’s a true collaboration — it’s hard to remember who added what at this point,” Michael says.
They describe their new album as “indie folk pop with some electronic influence.” While they’re proud of the music they’ve created, the brothers say they’re even more excited about how the process of making it strengthened their relationship.
“My wife asked me who my best friend was, and I said Michael,” Matt says, admitting that wasn’t always the case.
Michael agrees putting the album together reinforced their bond. “Throughout this process, we were in constant communication. This has absolutely helped build that relationship,” he says.
Now that their work is available for the world to hear, they’re hoping people will listen to it. And while they don’t have any formal gigs lined up, both are hoping they’ll get the chance to perform the new songs together in front of a crowd.
“I believe in the songs more than ones we’ve written in the past,” Matt says. “They are more personal… When you really believe in what you’ve created, then you want other people to listen to it.” SP
Featured photo: Brothers Michael Susong, left, and Matt Susong, created an EP, we are in this together, working from their separate homes in Winston-Salem and Charlotte.