Our 6th annual LEAF Festival Singer-Songwriter Competition is this weekend, Saturday, May 11! All this week we are introducing readers to our eight, talented finalists. Today we are proud to highlight Brooklyn, NY-based Syd Caldera.
Syd Caldera is a singer-songwriter from Tulsa, Oklahoma currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Her most recent project, a four-song EP entitled Hasta La Bye Bye, was recorded from her bedroom studio in Brooklyn and mixed and mastered by LA-based producer Jonah Wei-Haas. Slated to be released digitally in July, the forthcoming release is a reflection on her process of finding and maintaining serenity and mental health while establishing a life in NYC. It is her hope that listeners may find solace in her work, and that those who are facing struggles can glean hope from the EP’s playful and optimistic themes.
We asked Syd some questions to learn more about her artistic process and vision. See Syd and the rest of our 7 fellow LEAF finalists perform at NewSong’s LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition this Saturday May 11.
There are pretty much two ways that I start writing a song. One way is like an emotional burst. In that case, I’ll feel a surge of energy and this urge to create. When I get the urge, I either sing a voice memo on my phone, or if I’m home, I pick up my guitar and pull back from my mind and let it out, singing and playing with the recorder on.
The other way that I write is very intentional. I pull out my notebook and free write on a subject for 10 minutes, trying to keep my language really rich with sensory phrases. Once the ten minutes is up, I read through it and pull out things that sound nice. Then I use my thesaurus to find words related to that topic and my rhyming dictionary to expand into verses. From there I pick back up my guitar and sing and record and listen back and repeat until a full idea is formed. From there I work to make my verses symmetrical. I’ve learned this makes a big difference when trying to make my songs accessible to people, otherwise I’m just writing for myself, which isn’t as fun to share with people. I’ve learned to stop before a song is perfect. A song is valuable however it reveals itself. Whether it sticks with me or not only time can tell. This is why recording my ideas is a must! Sometimes I sit down for two minutes and just walk away. I’ve had the experience over and over of rediscovering an idea and feeling that urge to write come back up.
Well, in July of this year I’m releasing a four song EP entitled Hasta La Bye Bye. It was recorded almost entirely in my bedroom in Brooklyn, NY, and mixed and mastered by a dear friend of mine out of LA, Jonah Wei-Haas, who grew up with me back in my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s a real labor of expression and very bare bones. I really think songs are great time capsules. Each of the four songs holds its own lesson, and they’re all taken directly from real life emotional struggle and growth. I hope that people hear Hasta La Bye Bye, and if they are having a hard time, that the songs will help them feel less alone. Folks can look for it on all of the streaming platforms, but also on my SoundCloud (/sydsongs). I’m also always posting snippets of things I’m working on on my Instagram page, and I love to make new friends and hear from people there. Just be warned, I am a huge dork with a strange sense of humor. That’s also @sydsongs
There was a time in my life when I thought live music belonged on front porches and in dive bars. I never would have submitted to a contest back then. Since I chose accept that songwriting is my path, I’ve started imagining a reality where my entire community and the work I do and the activities I do all revolve around writing songs, and I cannot imagine a better life. So, becoming a NewSong finalist is such an honor for me because it’s a step forward towards that dream. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get out of New York City and reconnect with dirt and sky and trees. I’m grateful for the people I get to meet and connect with. I’m grateful that I will be surrounded by music lovers and have the opportunity to contribute to people’s experience, and I look forward to the lessons I’ll take with me back to New York.