Exclusive Interview with Music Artist SymbaSyd

SymbaSyd is an artist you’re going to want to keep an eye on. Her debut album Another Life Situation touches on everything from heartbreaks to partying to graduations. I got the chance to talk to her about how she first got into music, what the recording process for Another Life Situation was, what her goals are and more. Keep reading to see what she had to say!

Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago. Despite the negative attention it’s gotten in the past 10 or so years, it’s really a beautiful African-American community filled with culture and artistic gems. Even the elementary school I went to (Arthur Dixon Elementary) was filled with Black art. The music program there gave me a healthy outlet after school. It was really the passionate teachers/mentors that inspired me to keep creating and performing more purposefully and courageously. 

Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?

I grew up under very interesting circumstances. Throughout my childhood, my family and I cared for my grandmother who had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gherig’s Disease). That entire experience opened my eyes to the fact that everything truly does happen for a reason. It gave me a story to tell and a vision on how I want/need to tell it. I feel like God has so many mysterious ways of revealing what our purpose(s) is on Earth, and I can’t help but marvel at it every time. 

I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music so if you had to describe the music you make without using genre names, how would you describe it?

I would describe my music as very go-with-the-flow. When I was younger, my grandmother would turn on the radio to a lot of instrumental radio stations. She’d ask me, “what’s it saying, Syd?” And I’d look at her crazy like, ”Nothing, grandma.” As I got older, I started to understand just how much music speaks even without words. Each note has an emotion to it almost as if it’s speaking right to you. That’s mostly how I create too. I go with what I feel the music is saying. So, that’s how I’d describe my music! 

Kind of going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?

If I could boil it down to like 5, I’d say Chance the Rapper, NoName, Amy Winehouse, Brent Faiyaz, and a newer one is Dijon! 

Let’s talk about your debut album, Another Life Situation. First, what does it mean to you for this album to finally be out?

Another Life Situation was a kiss good-bye to my childhood/youth as I took this new step into adulthood. It’s crazy because we recorded it during spring break like a week and a half before we got sent home from school because of the COVID-19 outbreak. This album was originally supposed to be about looking over my life so far as my senior year of college came to a close. Little did I know, it’d literally become a larger embodiment of this moment in time — Another Life Situation! It still feels surreal for me to have recorded an entire album in the beginning of what we didn’t know at the time was like…the end of the world. Everything happens for a reason. 

What was the recording process for the album like?

The recording process for the album was sooo fun, scary, and a once-in-a-lifetime feeling. It felt like how Marvin Gaye was recording music during the riots. In the midst of all this chaos beginning, my friends and I put good energy into creating something amazing. Not just for the music, but the bonds that were made because of it. Just in the studio from sunrise to sunset to sunrise again. Surviving on Apple Cinnamon tea and hot wings. Definitely one of those movie moments for sure. 

Something I’ve always been curious with songwriting is how topics come to mind. Did you know what you wanted to write about going into the song session that birthed your single ”Party’s Over” or did the idea just come about organically once you were in the session?

I didn’t exactly know what “Party’s Over” was going to be about when I started working on it, but I liked the title. Originally, it had an entirely different concept, but my producer/friend, Kelly2Face, and I decided to start from scratch and create a new feel for it. I called my friend, McMillin, and he went crazy on guitar! Once we pieced the track together, I was able to write the song in one night (which hadn’t happened in years). The song is about the ending of chapters and the pain and growth we experience during transitional times. It’s about how life just isn’t as fun sometimes, especially when you have to grow up—and I definitely didn’t know what that would entail in the weeks to come. 

Were there any major changes made to “Party’s Over” once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?

In the second chorus, there are these extended harmonies on the word “the.” We were  listening back wondering what I wanted to add and I stopped Kelly right at that point and started recording them. It was a random, yet very necessary addition and it’s lowkey my favorite part of the song. My other favorite part is the outro where McMillin’s just doing his thing while I kinda freestyled the “I don’t wanna go to sleep yet” lyrics. Kelly added some reverb onto it to make it “dreamy” sounding and it was so fitting. 

What track on the album do you feel best represents you and who you are and who you are as an artist?

I feel like “Party’s Over” is that track that best represents my artistry right now. It incorporates a lot of aspects that I love and value in music: live instrumentation, bass, harmonies, varying flows, etc. 

Are there any songs that didn’t make the album that you now wish you included? 

Yes. There is one song that didn’t make it on there that I will definitely include in a later project! We just didn’t have time to record that one and I think that was for a reason. I have other ideas for it now than I did back when I thought we’d be able to record it. So be on the lookout! 

You are still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?

As I’ve deepened my relationship with God, I’ve grown to learn how much my blessings are never just for me. In my career both professionally and creatively, I aim to leave nothing behind by the time I leave this earth like the late great Chadwick Boseman once said. Honestly, Grammys and stuff would be dope victories along the way, but as long as I was able to inspire, reach, and do well with what I’ve been blessed with that’s all that matters! 

I know these are weird, uncharted waters and there’s a lot of uncertainty and plans being re-arranged/canceled/etc. But what can fans expect from you in the next few weeks/months? Are you planning to release more music?

Currently, I am working on new music! I’m doing some songwriting, and this time has helped me sit and learn how to record on my own! So that’s been an exciting new experience. I can’t say it’ll be within the next few weeks/months, but I can’t wait to show y’all what I have coming next! 

Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?

Something I’m currently nerding over is my new job! I get to help songwriters and music publishers. I love it because it’s something so purposeful and I get to be meaningfully involved on both the creative and business side of music. A blessing for sure.

Make sure you follow her on Instagram.

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