Sy Smith: Independent Motivator

When you don’t have an outlet for your dream you can give up or create a path for your vision. Sy Smith recognized early in her career that in order to have her voice heard she must wear multiply hats as a singer, songwriter, promoter, graphic designer, agent, etc. to become a small enterprise. Smith has used her voice and business acumen to help set-up Los Angeles’ soul music scene and help create entertainment platforms like “B!tChCraft” for women to showcase their talent. With an appetite for conquering new challenges, Sy continues to seek new artistic and business ventures to explore new aspects of her creativity.

Going Indie Route…
“I went indie without really thinking about it. I started doing a lot of shows in Los Angeles and I needed product to sell at these shows. This is like 2001; there wasn’t an indie scene or anything to pattern myself after as far as a business model. I was just like I should put together an EP. It was very haphazard. That is how it started. I just wanted to have product at my shows.”

Accepting Wisdom… “Artistically I have had mentors. I was always inspired by my family in D.C. and my extended family at the church I grew up in. Even though I didn’t sing a whole lot in church I still looked up to the singers. It was like pulling teeth to get me to sing. When I moved to Los Angeles, Rickey Minor has been a huge mentor for me. He is the music director for “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and he was also my boss on “American Idol.” I find mentorship in places where people don’t know they are mentoring me.”

Dropping Knowledge… “I have a few people I call my little brother and little sister. I try to give them advice and try to have them around at events I think would be good for them to be at. I try to give them tips that nobody told me that I would have benefited from if somebody had told me years ago.”

I Wish I Would Have Knew… “I used to do this thing called Bitch Fest, which was a monthly event I started because I couldn’t get booked at a club in Los Angeles. There was no soul scene out here, only indie Rock. So I started Bitch Fest so not only I could have a place to play but I could pick other chicks to play. I didn’t just chose singers, I chose comedians, dancers, actress’ doing monologues. It was dope. When you are doing something like that and you know nothing about cross promotion or venue promotion you end up learning little tidbits along the way. Everything from where to get flyers made to designing stuff yourself; it is all a learning process. I don’t know if anybody could have sat down and told me you should pick one graphic designer and get everything done like that. I am real quick at learning.”

Making The Scene… “When I started making CDs there really was no scene (in Los Angeles). No one could have said do your stuff with so and so…cause none of that stuff existed. I was part of an group of pioneering individuals who had a vision, I count among that group people like Kim Hill (original singer of Black Eye Peas) and Medusa (rapper). ”

Always Ready to Learn… “You have to be ready, willing and able to learn. The ready part is most important; you shouldn’t have to get ready. If you stay ready you don’t have to get ready or prepare.”

Business Pursuits… “I want to get more opportunities to write commission pieces. I like getting pieces like that because I’m really good at following parameters and still making something special.”

Developing Creative in a Box… “I have the freedom to do what I want to do all the time so every now and then it is cool to have a box. Because it forces me to pinpoint your creativity and still make a statement. It is real easy to make a statement when you don’t have any rules to follow.”

Experimenting on the Job… “At this point I’m into the challenge more than anything. Something is going to mean a lot, something that is going to build up my chops. I don’t really dig singing on gigs that are kind of easy because that is no fun.”

—— By: Interview By AO B!tChCraft


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