Image Credit: Ryan Watanabe,
Coming off of her debut appearance at this year’s SXSW conference following the release of her first EP Make It Hurt back in February, singer Sydney Franklin has been making her mark as a creative powerhouse and an artist to watch. Sydney’s blunt yet poetic lyrics on Make It Hurt, paired with her sultry voice, creates a listening experience that is just as impressive as it as absolutely euphoric. Reminiscent of artists like Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, Sydney’s been in high demand– performing all over the country these past few months in addition Make It Hurt amassing over 100k streams on Spotify since its release– however, we were lucky enough to get in contact with the songstress to talk about the EP, the importance of creative freedom, and more.
Check out our interview below, in addition to the official lyric video for the titular single “Make It Hurt“.
[BABETALK]: Let’s start at the beginning; when did you start singing? Did you always know you wanted to be a singer?
[S.F.]: I’ve always been connected to music in some way, but didn’t know that it was something I would eventually pursue. It wasn’t until my seventh grade Christmas choral concert that my parents knew I could even sing. I had a solo that night, and when it was over my parents were like, “What the hell? You can sing?” Music is my first love and I plan to continue that for the rest of my life.
[BABETALK]: Who inspired you to pursue a career in music? Who are your influences?
[S.F.]: When I was in middle school I was in love with Taylor Swift, I mean who wasn’t at that age? But, she actually was a huge inspiration for me. When I saw her live my sophomore year of high school I knew performing was what I wanted to do, particularly when I couldn’t hold back tears. That night lit a fire inside of me and I haven’t stopped since. Growing up, I listened to Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin in the car with my mom and sister, and Billy Joel and Zeppelin with my dad. A few artists I’m listening to currently are Jorja Smith, Daniel Caesar, SZA and Marc E. Bassy. Each of those artists has so much soul and power in their voices. They paint a picture every time they sing.
[BABETALK]: Your new release ‘Make It Hurt’ is full of anthems of self-discovery and freedom; what inspired the EP?
[S.F.]: Before coming back home, two years ago, to focus on my music, I attended Berklee College of Music. What many people don’t know about me though is the main reason I withdrew from school early. I was in a very dark place at the time and needed to step away from my education to focus on my well-being. Since then, I’ve come a long way; but because dealing with depression and anxiety was such an out of body experience for me, I learned so much about life and love. My perspective on the world has changed, as well. I now approach, and deal with, situations so differently than I would have two years ago. I’m still learning though, and hope to never stop.
[BABETALK]: The opening track “Forever” finds you in a soulful duet with Mac Ayres— who you happen to know from college. What was it like making the track with Mac?
[S.F.]: Mac and I lived in the same dorm freshman year at Berklee. He’s such a goofy, talented guy, and it was so awesome collaborating with him. I am partnered up with House Studios, and through House I was introduced to the Shifted Studios team, where we recorded Forever. I saw Mac post on his Instagram story one day that he was at Shifted working with producer Mike Irish, so we decided to meet up in the studio to collaborate. His drummer, Chris Anderson, was in the booth vibing out, while the rest of us were in the control room, with Mac on the keys. It all happened so naturally. The opening hook “feels like forever’s got a hold on me…” was actually part of a song Mac had previously written, but never released. Personally, I can feel lost in this big world, like I don’t have a place, so I tried writing something as blunt as I could but also tried to make it a little bit more poetic like Kendrick Lamar.
[BABETALK]: The forceful track “Noise” came as a result of your rejection of major labels in pursuit of artistic freedom. Can you tell us more about that? How important is artistic freedom to you?
[S.F.]: Last spring, a talent shopper reached out wanting to introduce me to some major record labels out in LA. It was an amazing experience and lesson learned, but it didn’t end pretty. While in these meetings I was told what should be expected if I were to sign with a one of the major labels. I’m all for co-writing with different artists but I don’t want to just sit there and look pretty, while they shove a song down my throat that I had absolutely nothing to with, creation wise. In essence I couldn’t handle all of the so-called “noise” that was being thrown at me. When I got back from LA I was turned down by one of the labels. I was hurt, but everyone was also telling me what I should do and how I should do it, and I realized that being with a label wasn’t what I actually wanted. After that “Noise” just kind of poured out of me. I then partnered with House Studios, an impact driven media company that helps empower independent artists. They’ve really allowed me to have creative control over my music, while also maintaining ownership over my masters. House empowers me to be me, and become the artist I want to be.
[BABETALK]: You manage to fill every lyric with an intense amount of emotion— what is your writing process generally like? Do you draw all of lyrics from real life experiences?
[S.F.]: I would say about 95% of my lyrics come from random moments throughout my day, where I write in my notes app on my phone. I draw every song from real life experiences. Truthfully, I tend to not be honest with myself, but for some reason when I write a song by myself, or with someone else, the truth tends to unfold. Songwriting has become extremely therapeutic for me, as well as for my listeners. I’ve had people message me on Instagram telling me that they just lost a loved one and how my songs have helped them through the grieving process. It’s messages like that that are the reason I’m pursuing music and what keeps me going.
[BABETALK]: Do you have a favorite track off of ‘Make It Hurt’? If so, which one and why?
[S.F.]: The song “Make It Hurt” is definitely my favorite song to listen to, off of the EP. One of my producers, Mike Irish from Shifted Recording, pushed me in a creative direction that no one had before, but one my soul had been begging for. You can hear and feel the pain and heartache that I was experiencing, and in some way, shape or form all of us have. As for my favorite song to perform live, I would definitely say “Noise”. It sounds completely different live and has this soulful, electronic, pop-y vibe to it that instantly captivates a room.
[BABETALK]: Now that the EP is out, have you been working on new material? How would you describe any of your new projects and when can we expect them?
[S.F.]: I’m always creating, that’s what I love to do. I try to challenge myself by constantly having a couple songs in the works. Now that Make It Hurt is out I am just getting back to collaborating in the studio with different writers and producers. I’m going to be working with some rappers, pop singers and a neo-soul duo. Nothing in one particular genre, just good music.
[BABETALK]: You recently had the honor of playing an all-female SXSW showcase— what was the experience like? Did you get to check out any other cool events/artists while there?
[S.F.]: SXSW was such an amazing experience, and it was really special to play an all-female showcase, especially with the whole women’s movement going on right now. While I was down there I got to see numerous amounts of amazing talent. A few that stuck out to me were SHAED, who performed at the same WeDC showcase as me, Moonrise Nation, Snoh Aalegra, and Mannywellz, who is actually another House Studios artist. He has a killer project titled, SoulFro that has a very eclectic sound.
[BABETALK]: Finally, if you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would without a doubt choose Whitney Houston. She is one of my all-time idols. I’m currently watching a documentary on her titled, Can I Be Me. She was such an amazing talent and always will be one of the greatest to ever live, but it breaks my heart how she became so lost in a world where she was such a beautiful talent. Another artist I’d love to collaborate with is Maren Morris. It’s one of my all time goals during my career to write with her. She’s such an amazing writer and singer, and I’d love to have the honor of collaborating with her one day.