Sydanie: The WL Interview

Purveyor of: Witty, dynamic rhymes over bangin’ hip-hop, electro and throwback house beats.

File next to: Haviah Mighty, Keita Juma, Tierra Whack, Azealia Banks, Junglepussy, Kari Faux, Princess Nokia, and Leikeli47 

Playing: Sydanie will play on Day One of the Wavelength Summer Music & Arts Festival on August 17 at Stackt Market in Toronto. CLICK HERE for more details and to buy tickets.

Sydanie is a force of nature. Rapper, student and, perhaps most importantly, a single mother, 999, her mixtape of raps over electro and ‘90s house music created a sensation when it was released last year, culminating in it being voted onto the Long List for the Polaris Music Prize by Canada’s top music critics and writers. 

Wavelength was on the Sydanie wave early, booking her to play a set at Camp Wavelength in Summer 2018 even before she was tapped for a major profile as part of FADER’s Gen F series. Since then, though she has played a series of electrifying live sets around town and beyond, prompting WL Guest Curator Ian Steaman to book her for a return to Wavelength this year for our Summer Fest at Stackt Market on August 17-18. 

In advance of her Day One set, Ian was able to send Sydanie a few questions about her upcoming Eclectic Circus album and where she sees herself and her music fitting in today’s musical landscape.

The 999 Mixtape was a major buzz builder for you. Did you expect it to get the reaction it did and make it on the Polaris Long List?

When I had first finished the project, I was very nervous about how it would be received as a ‘90s house record from a rapper. While I had some hesitation, I also put the project out with the goal of it doing all that it did. I have big visions for myself and while the Polaris Prize is part of my dream goals, it’s nothing I would’ve imagined for my mixtape.

“I want u 2 see this” is your latest single, from your official debut album that you’re about to drop later this year. How is that project different from 999?

Eclectic Circus is less of a “debut album” and more of a long EP type project, but 999 is only different because I had more anxiety around it. While a lot of personal life things delayed my recording this summer, the process of creation so far, has been filled with much less fear. I’m focused less on lyrical assassination and more on describing the textures and/or feelings of experiences.

From Cardi, Nicki, and Megan to Lizzo, Tierra Whack etc., female hip-hop is really having a moment right now. How do you see yourself fitting in that wave and within hip-hop as a whole?

I think being from Toronto alone sets me apart culturally and stylistically, but I’m also an undeniably important part of authentically presenting Toronto culture and identity as a Jamaican-Canadian from Jane-Finch. I think, especially as more women in hip-hop exist simultaneously, there’s more options for dynamic female identities in hip-hop, like mine! 

The Summer Fest bill is pretty eclectic in terms of all the different types of acts on it. How do you like playing shows like that and what was your experience playing Camp Wavelength last year? 

I really enjoy playing sets that are dynamic in that way, because my tastes in music are similar. Well-curated, eclectic shows highlight the talent of each artist as they are complemented by a style different from their own. All my favourite shows were with industrial noise bands or throat-singing electro duos. When I did WL last year, I hadn’t had as much experience being on eclectic bills, so I was a little skeptical at first, but I stayed and jammed out with all the other performers — to see everyone mesh well with the amazing headliner Zaki Ibrahim was a dream!

You’ve been playing a few shows around town this spring and summer, so what can fans who haven’t seen you live yet expect from your performance at Summer Fest?

For Summer Fest, I’ll be sneak peaking some stuff of my upcoming project, Eclectic Circus before its release this coming winter. 

Amazing, we’re really looking forward to it. Finally, we’re putting together a playlist for Summer Fest. What’s your favorite song right now?

“IDK” by Willow off her Adripthecus album.

Listen to “IDK” by Willow, the latest single, “I want u 2 see this” by Sydanie and more music by other artists playing Summer Fest on the Wavelength Summer Fest 2019 Playlist on Spotify by clicking HERE.