On Sunday night, we went to Bowery Ballroom to see one of our favorite duos, The Internet, along with opening acts Kilo Kish, and Phony Ppl. The sold-out show was definitely a psychedelic experience. The kaleidoscope lighting, wondrous live band and vocals left the audience in a euphoric haze. After the show, we kicked it with Syd. There were no moments of awkward silence or banal small talk, just good conversation and a room filled with smiles and laughter. The first lady of Odd Future is definitely going to make history, so it is only right people learn more about her story.
Mass Appeal: Who is Syd? Can you please give a brief description of yourself, and what you do?
Syd the Kyd: I’m a 20-year-old female, I work on music, I try to write songs, I produce when I’m in the mood, and I mix when it’s a friend’s music or when I’m getting paid for it; and I just try to live life and I’m from Odd Future.
Discuss your upbringing, what were some of your early creative influences?
My first two albums were Usher’s My Way, and Brandy’s first album. Those were my main creative influences. From that point on, it became *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, and then on top of that, Erykah Badu—I grew up on a lot of that. Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and a bunch of random reggae.
Are your parents musically inclined?
My mom always walked around singing, and I grew up thinking she had the greatest voice ever. She can really carry a tune, she wanted to be a DJ; she wanted to do what I’m doing, basically when she was my age. My dad’s brother is a producer out of Jamaica—he’s a reggae producer. My dad’s not musically inclined… he [just] thinks he is.
How old were you when you developed a passion for music?
When I was 13 or 14. When I was 13, I knew I wanted a studio when I grew up. Just to sit in, and watch people make music. By 14, I had built a studio, like a small project home studio and I knew I wanted to produce. I wasn’t quite doing it yet, which is why I got into engineering. I built my studio in the interim, it worked out kept me close to it.
As a pupil, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Until 9th grade, I wanted to be a basketball player. I played a lot of basketball once I got to 9th and joined the basketball team. I knew I didn’t want to play basketball seriously—I’m not competitive enough. I’m like, “Everybody have fun!” You know? So that’s when I just switched over and started focusing on what I knew I wanted to do.
What was high school like for you? Were you popular?
No, not at all. For 9th and half of 10th grade I went to Palisades Charter High School, which is right across the street from the beach. I had no friends there, I hated the school. It’s a great school for academics, but unless you’re into athletics you tend to get left out of a lot of things. I don’t know, maybe not now, but when I was there, I didn’t have many friends at Palisades. I transferred to Hamilton Music Academy, and I had a lot of friends there, made a bunch of new ones, and it was a much better place for me, it was more open-minded.
So, people weren’t receptive towards you?
Not even that, because I was a loner myself. I was quiet and shy. So like, people just didn’t… people were more scared of me because they always thought I was in a bad mood, they always thought I was sad or something. So, I just spent a lot of time alone. At home I had friends, at home I had a lot of friends in my neighborhood. I ran the ‘hood, but school, I ain’t talk to nobody, I just minded my own business.
Cool, who is your she-ro?
(Without hesitation) Erykah. Erykah Badu.
[What about] Lauryn Hill? Missy Elliott?
I could say Lauryn Hill, because I grew up on Miseducation… Yeah, but I grew up on Erykah! Erykah is just the queen to me. I respect the fuck out of Lauryn Hill. Missy Elliott, yeah. Me and Matt are trying to be like the new Missy and Tim[baland]. We listen to them all the time, so it’s hard to not try to think of ourselves. It’s an inspirational thing; we’re our own group for sure, but… (Laughs)
Speaking of inspiration, you’ve inspired a lot of women, the LGBT community especially. You’re the first African-American young woman to take a stand, so how does that feel?
To be honest, for the longest I never said I was gay, and that’s the funniest part.
Matt Martians: Syd’s not gay. What are you talking about? She’s not gay, I mean look at her. She’s not gay!
(Laughs) That’s the funniest part, and I did that for a reason, just to keep everything open-minded and not close any doors for myself, you know? I feel like, you know, I’m not ignorant.
“I see a lot of females making music who are like me who are trying, but they try to use the gay thing too much. They try to take advantage of being gay and it’s like, if it’s really who you are, be who you are. So for me, it’s been the same with being a female and being, you know, having whatever preference I have.” – Syd the Kyd
“[I] just try to make it about the music and nothing else. Nothing else, people got thrown off when “Cocaine” was the first video, but I’m not about to be in a video kissing a dude, that’s just not me, so it’s the only way to go really.
Would you consider yourself a feminist?
No, I personally don’t tend to get along with many feminists. I don’t know. I’m a humanist. I believe in equal rights for everyone. Well, I guess there’s always an extreme to everything, so I guess extreme feminists are annoying. I respect anyone who stands up for rights for anyone, you know? I’m into human rights, I don’t really think about who I am that often, I just be it.
CLICK THE NEXT PAGE FOR MORE ON THE STATUS OF THE UPCOMING RELEASES BY THE INTERNET, AND SYD’S PUBLIC PERCEPTION
1"Trust me, but I’ve always wanted to rock a crowd at least once, and now I’m doing it with my friends. So it makes doing it more than once perfectly fine with me. It’s a cool job; it’s cooler than any other job." - Syd the Kyd
What’s the difference between performing with just Matt and the band versus all of OFWGKTA?
The crowd, because our energies are way different. It’s a huge difference, you know, it’s going from deejaying for one; no microphone, just speaking with my hands and with the music I play, and dancing for an hour and a half, non-stop to a more calm, groovy kind of vibe. Something that’s more natural to me, which is why I left touring with them to do this. It’s a big difference, the crowd though is the main difference. At Odd Future shows, you look into the crowd, they’re either into [it] because they know the song or they wish they knew the song. So they could be into it, so they’re just staring blankly up at you. With this, it’s like I can speak to people now, you know I can look at people in their eyes and speak directly to them. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, at least once.
So low-key, you’ve always wanted to be a singer-performer?
I’ve always wanted to hold the mic on stage, at least once. It’s like every shy person’s dream. I’ve always wanted to be a rock star, but I’m just ultra shy and scared. Yeah, every shy person’s dream, to rock a fucking crowd and be wild. Of course, shit, everyone gets nervous. Before every show, my stomach is like somewhere else.
What’s next for you and The Internet? I saw that you all were working on the Feel Good EP, how’s that coming along?
We’re still working on it. It’s going to end up being like a “The Internet Presents…” kind of thing where we just produce, and have a bunch of our friends featured on it. So far, we’ve got Jesse Boykins [III], The Stepkids, and some other people. Yeah, I’m excited; I’m ready to finish it. I’m excited to see how people feel about it.
Also, I notice you and Matt were in the process of shooting a documentary, The Feng Shui Experiment, where you all document the positives and negatives of the music industry, could you please elaborate more on that?
Well, The Feng Shui Experiment is still happening.
[MM: Yeah, we’re still working on it, just made a few changes; you’ll see.]
S: Yeah, it’s being tweaked a little bit, the whole story of it. It’s still very much about the music industry, the ups and downs of it, but we’re actually working on putting together our own independent label, called Pizza Wave.
Yeah, random I know, but it works. Pizza Wave, and so Feng Shui Experiment would be a little bit more about creating an indie label; this shit is new to us, you know, I mean I have a label with five others, but it’s not indie. So this is going to be new to us, and we’re going to be doing this whole DIY thing, and taking everything, doing everything ourselves.”
What advice would you give to young women who are aspiring artists, who look at you and say, “I want to be like Syd!”?
S: Don’t try to be like nobody. [laughs] Try to be someone you would admire.”
MM: Just be yourself.
S: Try to be someone you would admire, that’s what I always did. You know I didn’t always like myself at all. You know? In high school, I realized that the goal is to be someone you would admire. Be someone you would like. Yeah, try to be someone you would admire, and try to do whatever you do to the best of your ability because then no one could tell you anything! [Laughs]
I applaud and commend you for fearlessly being you. In most of the Odd Future interviews, you were seen, but not heard. When did you start becoming comfortable with yourself?
Well, to be honest I still want to stay behind-the-scenes. This whole like, being a singer is still kind of taking some getting used to. We’ll see how it goes, but, as far as being comfortable with myself, I began to take my own advice. I started trying to be someone I wanted to be, I started trying to be someone I would admire, and it worked. I don’t know, I just started letting go, and saying, “Fuck what everyone else thinks!” like If I want to do this, if I want to cut my fucking hair, I’m going to cut my hair, you know? If I want to dress like this, I’ll dress like this. I just stopped worrying about others’ opinions, and began worrying about my own opinion.
In ten years where do you see yourself?
In ten years, I’ll be thirty. [Laughs] In ten years, I want to have at least one million dollars and that’s about it. I want to have at least one million dollars. [Laughs]