Sydney Wayser, the 26-year-old New Yorker that hails originally from Los Angeles (and Paris), has left her two previous albums, the cold and gloomy New York winter and the real world (as we know it) behind to create her own utopia in Bell Choir Coast. It’s a land that offers Louvrian French landscapes, California sun, and glockenspiel tunes all at once, and it comes out this March. Shortly after the release of ‘Dirty Work’, her first single from Bell Choir Coast, we had a chance to converse with the enthusiastic multi-coastal musician.
BULLETT: So, your father is French and your mother is American. You grew up going back and forth between Paris and Los Angeles. Did this sense of adventure influence your music?
SYDNEY WAYSER: Traveling is really important to me. I think seeing the world through different eyes has shaped my understanding of art, architecture, culture, food… the list continues. I feel lucky to have grown up being immersed in both an American and European lifestyle. I spent time as a kid in the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay so I don’t find it surprising that Paris-based artists seeped into my inspirational pool. A few favorites being Modigliani, Picasso, and Seurat.
My upcoming record, Bell Choir Coast is about a fictional land, and while I was creating it I couldn’t help but draw inspiration from my trip to Greece a few years ago where I spent most of my time roaming the streets of modern day Athens pretending it was the Classical Era.
When did you start flirting with the idea of becoming a musician?
I can’t remember when I decided, I kind of always knew I would do this. It’s the only thing I’ve wanted and needed to do. My father is a musician and songwriter and I think hearing him play every day made music feel natural to me. It was just part of the daily routine. I wrote my first song for a class project in 6th grade about Modigliani and I’ve been in love with his work ever sense. (I still have a recording of it somewhere… I don’t think I will ever show the world what baby Sydney sounded like, but it is a nice reminder of where I started.)
It’s becoming harder and harder to find musicians that write their own music. Is writing lyrics cathartic for you?
Writing lyrics is the best part! You are able to craft a statement in a song very different than in common language. I love being able to play around with rhymes and internal rhymes and have the words mean something yet still flow off the tongue nicely. Leonard Cohen is a huge influence of mine. As far as lyricists go, I think it would be hard to find someone as poetic. Other times while I’m writing, I open my mouth to sing and my emotions just turn into lyrics that flood out of me. I’m not even aware of how I am feeling until the song is finished. My song “Time Frame” wrote itself that way and when it was finished I just sat in my apartment in silence sort of processing everything that just came up in my head.You use children’s toys as “instruments.” What is it about children that inspires you?
Children have the best imaginations and never say “No.” They’ll try anything. Plus, they get the best toys! Bright colors, great sounds, what more could a girl ask for!
Would you ever consider writing actual lullabies for children?
I’ve actually never thought about it. I wrote a children’s book last summer and have been slowly editing it since. Lullabies would be fun though. Maybe one day–maybe soon!
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
A Triple Threat! Ha, that dream died when I realized I couldn’t dance and am too shy to act.
What is your musical guilty pleasure?
Last night after our show we drove home blasting the Moulin Rouge and Les Miserables soundtrack. Wow, that was a great ride! We were harmonizing the parts, adding new parts and having more fun than I can explain.
The name Bell Choir Coast–besides having an incredible ring to it, is there something more personal tied to the name?
I had been working on a record here in New York City and after a year of exhausting hours and feeling unsatisfied with the product, I decided to take some time to myself, hole up in my apartment and start over. It was last winter and I wanted to be anywhere else but stuck in New York with snow storms and frustration. I knew I couldn’t leave, so instead I made my own world to live in. That world is ‘Bell Choir Coast.’ I wrote new songs, rewrote songs and started over. This process was exactly what I needed. I was in my very own personal “dark age” but ‘Bell Choir Coast’ was the light. I was able to become the person I wanted to be through my escape to this fictional place.
You always seem so genuinely excited about the exposure your music receives. What’s the feeling you got when you saw ‘Dirty Work’ playing on MTV? Or even KCRW playing your music on Morning Becomes Eclectic?
Since I grew up in L.A, KCRW has always been a goal of mine. Honestly when I found out I called my manager and left her a message saying something along the lines of “Emily! Oh man.. Emily, (tearing up) you won’t believe what I just found out! “Dream it Up” is playing on Morning Becomes Eclectic! My friend just called to tell me she heard it on the radio while going to work! Ah! I had no idea it was going to be played!” (I continued to ramble on for a while) She called me back chuckling and told me she is never going to delete that message. I may have over reacted just a little bit, but it was one of my favorite musical moments to date and I was so excited. There I was, crying in Union Square because my song was played on KCRW… boy, I’m a baby.What’s next for you? Do you have things in the works?
I am excited to announce that I have teamed up with Pledge Music to release my record on Vinyl. The campaign will last until mid-March and up until then people are able to pledge for different exclusives. A few of my favorites are magic potions, artifacts from Bell Choir Coast, the headdress I wore for the “Wolf Eyes” video and the harmonium I used on the record. My band and I will be busy touring once the record is released. We will be heading to SXSW, CMW and then off to Europe in the fall (I hope)! I’m looking forward to lots of traveling this year!