Behind the ethereal melodies and lush instrumentation of Vancouver-based musician Syd Warwick’s latest EP, Sad Astra, lies a message of empowerment. We’ve been trained to hear empowerment from women as a roar, a yell about injustice.
But for Warwick, like many women, it’s discovered in quiet self-exploration and delivered in a moment of reflection. “I’ve always wanted to be brave enough to feel the things I need to feel in order to move forward. And that’s what these songs are for me,” Warwick says of the record she wrote and co-produced.
What inspired your new single “Mercury” and its video?
I wrote Mercury to process some very real, and difficult pain that I was experiencing. It’s about having to make the hard decision of putting yourself first, even when that means leaving behind people you love. The video was creatively a direction that really aligned between the director of the video, Nathalie Taylor and myself. As soon as I had recorded the song, all I saw for this music video was a field and dancers and quick b-shots displaying our surroundings. We worked together to create that, and from the very beginning our visions %100 aligned.
What is the lyrical content inspired by?
Mercury is a journey through the grief that comes with processing family trauma, and the difficulty of having to cut ties with people that you love. Even though there’s fear, uncertainty and pain within the process of letting go, there’s also a first step towards empowerment—the kind that comes when we face the world as an individual, belonging to no one but ourselves.
‘Mercury’ is about being your own advocate, understanding the cyclical nature of abuse and trauma within a family system, and remembering that you are so much more than where you come from. It serves as a reminder to put yourself first, else you may never be able to move forward and become the person that you’re meant to be.
How does “Mercury” fit in with the rest of the material on your upcoming debut EP, Sad Astra?
Mercury is more so a call back to my roots, to what I love about music and the kind of art I have always been inspired to create. Mercury is a core piece of this collection for that reason. It’s me making exactly what I want to make, regardless of how popular that may or may not be.
How do you keep yourself inspired on a daily basis?
I try to stay open to the beauty around me, and stay open to the magic of ordinary things. I think if you’re awake to the fact that life is truly a miracle, then you’re someone who is consistently inspired to create and discover. You remember how it’s a privilege to live, breathe, feel and even the pain becomes something beautiful. I need to connect with nature, be outside and have plenty of alone time in order to be open to that. If I’m inside or in the city for too long, I start to feel disconnected from myself. Being connected to yourself is for me, essential in feeling inspired.
How do you like to challenge yourself?
I like to constantly try new things, and challenge my weaknesses. For this EP I really challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone genre wise, to let go and not put so much faith in the opinions of others. It’s a fine balance with music, because it matters what people think but ultimately you need to feel good about what you’re making. I think it’s also important to know your people, and your audience. Not everyone is going to get your music, so they’re not going to be able to appreciate it for what it is. I’m currently learning where I fit in, what I want to make and I think that is something that’s going to evolve a lot over time.
What was your first exposure to music?
I started my journey with classical guitar. I started at around 6 or 7 years old, reading music and playing traditional classical pieces. Later I learned Spanish flamenco and different south american styles. I was this little kid playing a big classical guitar, I was always playing guitar. Later I wanted to start writing my own songs. I had already been doing that since I was very little, but my teacher wouldn’t help me with crafting those until later. I’ve always played music and written songs, so since I was 6 years old.
How would you describe your style in one word?
What are your plans after Sad Astra? Are there live performances in the works?
I have several Sofar Vancouver shows in the works, and a music festival Berwhalla on August 6th. We’re looking at putting together an EP release, but no concrete plans yet. We’ll keep everyone posted.