Syd the Kyd has been a professional musician since she was a teenager. As a DJ for the infamous hip hop group Odd Future, Syd (nee Sydney Bennett) has been recording and touring for eight years, and she’s only 23.
For the last four years she’s been working on her own project, The Internet, a hip hop electro soul hybrid that has grown from a duo with musical partner Matt Martians to a now six piece band that just released their third full-length album, Ego Death on Sony Music. Their first single “Girl” is a sexy, smooth love song that has Syd singing about passion and wanting to the object of her affection. (Hint: It’s a girl.)
Syd has been out in her career, answering for the homophobia of hip hop and Odd Future’s involvement, as well as for her controversial music video for the 2011 Internet song “Cocaine” in which she abandons a drugged-up young woman on the side of the road. As the only female member of Odd Future and The Internet, she occupies a unique place in the music industry, one that is also high profile enough to spark conversation about queerness in urban music while also not necessarily feeling like a part of the greater queer community. (She told The Fader, “…as a gay women, I find it hard sometimes to relate to other gay women, because I’m not really part of any kind of gay scene. Most of my friends are straight dudes.”)
At 23, it seems Syd is an example of a generation that is less interested in the discussion around visibility and is creating art her way, without really considering the kinds of progress it signals for her and other artists of her genre. To her, singing about relationships with women is inspired by her life and not with intent to make political statements or rabble rousing. It’s as natural to her as singing about the want for financial stability, a subject also not generally brought up in today’s popular music where artists are more prone to brag about their ability to give women anything they want, as long as they get something in return.
We spoke with Syd about honest songwriting, keeping female pronouns in her music and how she feels about that “Cocaine” video controversy four years later.
AfterEllen.com: Where do you like to do your songwriting? Is there a specific place you like to write?
Syd tha Kyd: It changes every so often. Probably every year. Right now my room is my favorite place to write but during the making of this album, I was writing everything in my basement.
AE: Do you set aside writing time or do you just grab the moment whenever you can?
STK: For the album, most of the songs, I set out specific writing times because I was working with other people, to help me write. One of my main writing partners, his name is Nick Green, and we set aside as many days in a row as we could.
AE: Did you have a specific theme for Ego Death or were you letting every song just take its own shape?
STK: I just let everything go. I never really know. It’s rare that I know what a song is gonna be about until I just say something random that might either sound cool and be relevant at the time to me. And then I kind of feed off that. The cool thing about writing is you get to create a fantasy. Nothing really has to be real. You can kind of write about anything as long as it sounds good.
AE: The video for “Girl” is simple but trippy. Was there something specific you wanted to capture?
STK: No, we wanted, honestly, to do something simple. We wanted something kind of simple because you’re paying more attention to the song than the video actually. Then we wanted something captivating enough to hold people’s attention for that long. So we were kind of going for “Let’s just sing the song in front of a really cool background.”