Interview with Syd Carter West
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Ever since I was two-years-old humming to songs on the radio and starting up singing lessons at six years old, I always knew music and singing would be my lifetime career focus. Even when I dabbled in other passions, nothing sparked more interest than my love for singing and songwriting. I don’t see myself doing anything else!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Anything in the artistic spectrum has always captured my interest - I can’t not artistically express myself haha! I graduated from Blanche Macdonald Centre with a diploma in freelance makeup artistry, learned editorial photography, and wrote poetry and short stories. Sometimes it can be very difficult to explain my emotions and thoughts in simple words, and I feel much more comfortable explaining them through my art — it seems easier for people to understand me that way.
How long has your project been around?
My music is a never-ending journey, but to listeners, I’ve been around professionally for a few years.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I was born and raised in Vancouver Canada — North Vancouver to be specific. Growing up with wildlife nearby gave me a sacred space to create art and find inspiration through the wonders of nature. I’ve always been an imaginative and adventurous person, so having access to forests, lakes, and rivers was ideal.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Syd Carter West was created through my family. Carter derives from my grandmother’s maiden name and West is from my father’s family heritage. I immediately thought the combo with my first name (shortened) would be catchy haha!
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
My first show at a local live music bar, Guilt & Co, was quite memorable because I never felt more comfortable and confident on stage. The audience was very supportive and engaged which is always a blessing and I felt in my zone. It only confirmed this is where I belong.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
So far it’s Guilt & Co because the vibes were on fire and the ambiance of the bar is so cool. It’s an underground live music bar with exposed brick walls, a candlelit atmosphere, and the crowd is there to appreciate the music.
I would love to perform at more festivals or venues that hold a capacity of 500+ people. The more people the better in my books!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Performing at the same venue as Dorothy, Chris Stapleton, Beth Hart, Joe Bonamassa or Evanescence would be unreal! Dreams!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Don’t overthink or judge yourself during the creative process. Allow the inspiration to find you by taking the time to play with different sounds, and genres and connecting with the emotion/thoughts that want to be expressed. Sometimes I write the most random sentences and words to get it all out before I actually piece together the message I’m wanting to convey in my songs. It takes time so don’t get stuck in frustration — appreciate the entire process because it’s the story that led to the creation!
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
If I could go back and give myself advice, it would be this:
Be selective with who you let in and always honour and appreciate the ones who stay through it all. The best people are those who were with you when you were considered a “nobody” to a “somebody.”
This is something I am still learning, but trusting my gut (my intuition) is so important! Through the most difficult moments of my life, I remember my gut always screamed at me to walk away from a situation, person, or decision that impacted me negatively. However, in those moments I caved and ignored my gut purely based on temporary desires (without thinking about the long-term effect). It takes a lot of discipline to sit and run through the pros and cons of our choices - it’s so easy to act on impulse but not always wise.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
All of my songs hold a piece of my heart and allowed me to express what needed to be felt during times of healing and growth. Each song was a step forward - an important step in evolving into who I am now. I could never have a favourite because it’s all a part of me and my artistry.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
It’s always a good time jamming to my fast-tempo/rocker tunes. My recent single “Moonshine” has been a favourite for people and even my cover of Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin gets the crowd singing along.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
It’s difficult to put my process into words. Sometimes I’m at home or out running errands when a random melody pops into my head and I have to record myself humming the idea on my phone so I don’t forget. Other times I’m at the studio with producers/musicians and get inspired by their guitar riffs and belt out a random melody/lyric that might match. I try not to force my process — I like to think I let the song channel through me.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Every song has different stories and reveals specific events throughout my life. However, I always try to create a common thread of self-acceptance, openness, connection, and personal growth. I hope my music can inspire at least one person to be open to their truth and live honestly, unapologetically, and authentically.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Absolutely! I’ve made mistakes of being stubborn and set in my ways which taught me to show more curiosity and openness before making final decisions. It’s important to compromise but it’s also okay to hold your ground, as long as you stay respectful to the other creative and take time to sit on it before acting on it, it works itself out.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’m definitely planning to tour next year — festivals and events coming my way! I’m also releasing a second single later this fall. Super excited to share! Get ready for Rock ‘n Roll. :)