People tend to forget that pop culture has both innocence and elegance, much of which Sye Spence travels, well, musically. The purer side of the content can be easily misinterpreted for an unhealthy, spoon-fed genre. Fortunately, there are artists like Sye who aim to bring back the times where pop was more like a home-cooked meal rather than fast food. Coming in September, her Pride EP will be fun as well as fulfilling. See how she plans to do that in this Sound Check!
Soul Train: Who are your influences when you want to create music?
Sye Spence: It’s crazy because it is a melting pot of what I’ve been through musically. It’s everything, from when I was a child and my mom played Anita Baker and Motown and the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Then it also goes to Biggie and hip-hop from the 90s, which I just love. Then it goes to rock. My main influences lyrically are Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin – whom I really fell in love with as I started exploring music. It also goes to the legends like Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight. I’m also influenced by Biggie, Eminem and Jay-Z. They all in a way influence my style and approach. It’s who I am and I want to be able to bring back those types of memories to people of my generation because I feel like we all are into different types of music.
ST: What’s your creative process like, especially with your upcoming project Pride?
SS: I like to remove myself from my environment and search myself for the truth at that given time. I strip down to what people wanna hear from me, or what I think would take me to the next level. Also, figure out who I really am because my music has to represent that. I’m gonna have to record that, I’m gonna have to sing that a bunch of times. My first step makes me completely pure. From there, it’s just really writing. Writing about my experiences, the experiences I’ve observed and stories I’ve heard and [that] effect me. Then I merge my personality into how I want it to be sonically recreated.
ST: How is this project different from your previous project It’s A Mad, Mad World?
SS: My process shows in this project. It’s really up-tempo and fun, and it takes me to the next level. My last EP Mad, Mad World wasn’t as fun, but Pride takes you to a happier place. People will dance to it, laugh to it, and I hope people will accept it and connect with it. I’ve become a better storyteller. I’m maturing as a songwriter. I’ve written 100 songs since Mad, Mad World and I feel like my pen skills have gotten better. I get straight to the point now, and I feel like that’s what music is – give the message. Creatively, I wanna do something different with my music. The last EP had its purpose and it was very personal, but now it’s time to uplift people.
ST: So when you say straight to the point, what do you mean?
SS: These songs are definitely catchy. I play a lot with pop melodies and harmonies, but the lyrics are talking about real subjects and less imaginative. I didn’t experience love when I created Mad, Mad World but I have since then so the lyrics get straight to the point and people can immediately connect.
ST: Wow, it sounds like you’ve developed in so many ways. So how long have you been singing?
SS: Since I was six, I was always thinking about performing and entertaining. My mom would play me the Dreamgirls soundtrack, and I used to be alone in my room and perform. My brush would be my microphone, my bed was my stage, my mirror was my audience. I started writing songs on my own when I was eight, and that’s when my mom bought me my own keyboard. I recorded my first song when I was ten. It’s just always been something inside where I just knew it was my purpose. I don’t look at it as a career but as my journey. I always tell people it’s not the destination it’s the journey, and I feel like this is my God-given journey.
ST: As far as content goes, what are some things listeners will get into with your upcoming project?
SS: You’ll definitely get into a lot of music with an old-school feel. This will have a Motown vibe from the 60s and 70s, but it will also couple with rock n’ roll. I made it my purpose to include live instrumentation in all my songs because I understand that people rarely get that, even when they go to live shows, so I wanna make sure they hear a live band. You get horns, live organs, just things that take people to back in the days.
Starletta Watson is a freelance multimedia journalist perusing the world of music, art and entertainment. She regularly contributes as a writer, blogger, photographer and videographer to Frank 151, VICE, Examiner, SlapStik Magazine and a host of others media outlets. Keep up with her on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/_starburst88) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/starwatson88)!