We had the good fortune of connecting with Sydney Wright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sydney, why did you pursue a creative career?
This feels like a poignant question for me. I’m a songwriter, artist, and live sound engineer, so I questioned everything when I watched my gig work and the opportunities I was planning to leverage melt off my calendar this year. I felt hella powerless like teen-me writing angsty rhymes about all the limits I felt suffocated under as a tiny baby high schooler, pining my butt off for a day when my freedoms would all be intact. Back then, aside from the catharsis of writing my many, many feelings into songs, I’d make up songs for my friends trying to cope with their high school heartbreaks. Sometimes they’d bring their own lyrics and I’d get to help them build something that seemed to prop them back up. I think that’s what being a creator is for me. Putting out beacons that people can connect with. I don’t think my thoughts or feelings are special, I think the fact that every person feels the same spectrum of emotions despite demographic or enculturation is special. It’s one of the solidarities of being human. Even though, like so many of us, I’m feeling anxious and volatile during a global pandemic, I’m still glad that I chose to create. For me, doing anything else would feel like a waste.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve loved writing songs the longest, and I think that’s my forte as an artist. I also enjoy making visual pieces and putting teams together for photo shoots, cover art, and music videos. Since being an independent creator requires one to learn and be consistent maintaining several jobs within many industries, I’d say I’m most proud of being versatile and diligent enough to thrive and even find a little success as an artist. Last year, I was awarded a 2019 Major Black Fret Grant, which was a huge honor and has been such a blessing through this years’ unforeseen volatility. This year, I was nominated as ‘Best Pop Act’ at the 2020 Austin Music Awards, and I made NPR’s Austin 100 List! I was also headed for my first SXSW as an Official Artist before the festival was cancelled. I’m hella excited about my recent level-ups. This regional recognition has taken years of hard work and planning, several thousands of dollars, and almost a lifetime of practice, achievements, and mistakes. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes it felt silly and unreasonable, but it never seemed pointless. I think as long as I have something to say, I’ll do what needs to be done to get it out there. My listeners and supporters are always making moving forward easier and easier <3. As far as lessons I’ve learned, I think that can be gauged best in new skills acquired and learning who to (and not to) team up with. I never expected to be able to learn so much about marketing, booking, producing music and film, branding, budgeting, and managing people when I chose to pursue this career. I also feel like I am choosing my teams with much more intention and insight than I did in the beginning. I think I’ve gotten better at listening to my intuitions and catching myself trying to force a square peg into a round hole. I want people to know that I’m doing my best and I’m not giving up. I’m really stoked about the music I’ve been working on with all this pandemic-inspired free time. I’m getting to self-produce much more than I have in the past, and the inspiration from my college studies in Ethnomusicology is starting to shine through in my music because of that opportunity. I’m excited to see how my trajectory unfolds with the unpredictability of these times.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First, we’d get breakfast tacos at the best taco trailer that there’s ever been, El Primo, outside of Over Under on South 1st. Then we’d head to Jessica Hollis Park for some casual cryotherapy. (It’s right by Mansfield Dam which makes the water like 50 degrees when the dam is let out.) On the way back to town we would grab some Fredricksburg peaches from the roadside stand if they’re set up. Then we’d head back to town and get food at Polvo’s or Gus’s Fried Chicken. After that, if there wasn’t a pandemic, we would get cute and go to Red River to visit my bar phamily at the venues I run sound at like Cheer Up Charlie’s and Empire. To end the night, we would go to my favorite lookout spot. It’s in the middle of the city and overlooks Town Lake and the Austin skyline.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout the people that hear me. My family, my friends, my Patreons, the listeners that are tuning in to my live streams, my sharers, my followers; these are my ultimate encouragers. They always step up to support when I need them, and they keep me confident that people want more of what I’m making.
Ismael Quintanilla, IQ3 Photography, Letitia Smith, White Light Exposure, Eric Morales www.ericmorales.com
Nominate someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.