Woman of the Week - ONE Musicfest Special Edition: Syd Tha Kyd

by: We Rise and Shine

Over the last couple of months, social media has been buzzing about “Ego Death,” the latest project from the soul band The Internet. The album's vibe is reminiscent of the mid to late 90’s and early 2000’s, a period which birthed the rise of the neo-soul movement and the flourishing careers of artists such as Erykah Badu, D'Angelo and Jill Scott. While listening to the records, it’s easy to become entranced by the soothing and melodic voice of the lead vocalist, which floats effortlessly over jazz inspired tunes. Though her demeanor is laidback and somewhat shy in person, the 23 year-old singer, known to fans as Syd tha Kyd, is a dominant force throughout the album.  As a former producer and DJ to the hip-hop collective Odd Future, the world is being reintroduced to Syd as she embraces her talent and position at the forefront of the band.

Sydney Bennett, born April 23, 1992, is a singer, producer and DJ from Crenshaw, Los Angeles, California. Syd's stage name was given to her by her big brother, Ty, as a kid which she reclaimed later in her career. Growing up in a musical family influenced Bennett's interest in music; her mother aspired to be a DJ and her uncle is a reggae producer. In a recent interview with Vibe, Syd shared her musical influences, “Erykah Badu and N.E.R.D. I grew up on a lot of neo-soul and reggae, too. Not too much reggae, more neo-soul. So Steel Pulse, Third World, Maxi Priest, and all those guys, but then I would switch it up and listen to Musiq Soulchild, India Arie, and Jill Scott. Those were first influences from my parents. As I started to discover music on my own I found N.E.R.D, and they were really big for me.” At the age of 14, Syd built a small music studio in her home and worked on sound engineering before getting into production. For the first half of her high school years, Syd attended Palisades Charter High School before transferring to the Hamilton Music Academy.

Coincidentally, The Internet first came together online, when Syd reached out to band member Matt Martians after hearing tracks he'd posted on MySpace. Soon, each became involved with Odd Future. After identifying a synergy between the two, one of the group's managers encouraged Syd and Martians to collaborate, and in 2011 they released their debut album, "Purple Naked Ladies." The band released their second album Feel Good in September 2013, and received rave reviews. Their third album Ego Death was released by Odd Future & Columbia on June 30th, 2015. The concept behind the title speaks to the rise and fall of narcissistic individuals whose egos were fueled by social media. In an interview with NPR, Martians explained "A lot of people that we know are just having their egos checked in many ways.  Some people losing their jobs when, last year, they were at the top of the mountain; certain people's careers going in different directions that they didn't anticipate.  And just kind of two words that you want people to think about these days, because we do have a lot people who, on the Internet - whether it's Instagram, Twitter - it's a lot of egos that are really based on nothing backing it up." Contrary to this notion, Syd has a befitting sense of confidence which has blossomed while creating the project.

“Over the past year, making this album, I’ve had more time to focus on myself. I’ve been able to sit and figure out who I want to be and how I want to be seen. It’s little things: making sure I get my haircut every week [so that I feel confident], getting some earrings, buying a necklace, some new shoes, it’s just the little things. I’ve gone through a few phases in the past year where I was wearing really baggy jeans and then skinny jeans and then tennis shoes and now dress shoes. I’ve even bought diamond earrings and stuff–just trying to find what I really like. I’m getting closer and closer everyday to finding who I want to be.” So far, Syd said, she's turned down many of the high-profile acting gigs for which she's been invited to audition. "Right now, I'd rather be known for making a song that speaks to somebody."