Interview: musical crush of the week #37 - CYN

With one (already infectiously catchy) single to her name thus far in the form of ‘Together’, CYN’s musical career is just beginning - and is set for great things, with the power of being an Unsub Records signee (aka Katy Perry’s imprint label), a knack for catchy hooks, as well as an authentic and enthusiastic voice for her music.

Where ‘Together’ touches on the intense kind of love “where separation is unfathomable,” CYN’s future releases look to other themes - including a song that “harnesses healthy optimism,” which is also her Mum’s favourite song of hers.

We spoke with CYN about her songwriting process, meeting Katy Perry for the first time, and most importantly, when we can expect to hear more from her…

...it’s like you’re living another life through songs, so you have to put songs out there that encourage different kinds of thinking.

COUP DE MAIN: ‘Together’ is such a jam! We’ve been listening to it on repeat since it came out. How did the writing process for that particular song work?
CYN: I was just really inspired by the word ‘together’ and I had the idea before I came into the studio. I just thought, ‘What if I made a whole song with examples of things that went really well together?’ And then that’s when I got in the room, everyone liked the idea, and then the hook where it’s like a three-part harmony, nearly… I had to fight for that part, because at first, the other people in the room didn’t really like that idea of that hook. But then it ended up making the song really individual, and after a while, everyone really liked it.

CDM: I’m glad you fought for that. It’s like my favourite bit of the song.
CYN: Right?! It’s such a fun little part and I had such a craving to do that kind of thing in a hook, so I’m glad that everybody ended up wanting to do it.

CDM: You’ve said the song is about, “A kind of love where separation is unfathomable." Do you think that love is the strongest, when two parties can’t bear to be separated?
CYN: Yeah, I’m not sure if it’s the healthiest though. It’s definitely the most magical. But I would encourage people to be able to separate from their love, and also be able to be by themselves. It could just signify not like this romantic love, but maybe even between a mother and a child, or two best friends. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this overly extreme romantic love, but any kind, really.

CDM: “You’ve got a heart that beats in time with mine,” is such a powerful lyric. How do you think a person knows when they’ve found that person?
CYN: For me, I’m new to Los Angeles, and when I’m out and meeting people, you just kind of come across people that feel like they’re on the same wavelength as you. And it may just be conversations that click, or you start sharing your experiences and they line up, and feelings that you have are similar to theirs. Maybe there are all different kinds of flavours of people and certain flavours compliment each other. Not necessarily that they’re the same... Maybe they are opposites, but it’s that perfect combination, could be anything really. So it’s just about finding that missing vibe in somebody else.

CDM: Very important question: when are we going to be hearing more music from you?!
CYN: Well, I haven’t announced anything yet. I can’t say anything specific, but definitely before the end of the year.

CDM: “When you’re insecure, I will tell you knock it off,” is a lyric from a “song you can’t wait to share” - can you tell us anything about that song at the moment?
CYN: Oh yeah! Well, it’s going to come out along with some other songs later, but it’s just another song that I think really harnesses healthy optimism and just kind of being there for another person, and what you would hope for in a friendship or a partner - I tried to write into that song. It’s got like a little disco vibe and none of the vocals are over-the-top, it’s so light-hearted. To me, it sounds like a strawberry milk river or something like that. It’s so light-hearted and cute. Yeah, I’m really excited. That’s one of my favourite ones. It’s actually my Mum’s favourite, so you’ll hear it when it comes out!

CDM: When did you sign with UnSub Records, and how did Katy Perry find you?
CYN: I signed with UnSub in March of 2016. I’ve been writing music since I was a toddler. I wouldn’t call them all formal songs, but definitely just like making up melodies and little jingles, my whole life. Then finally when I was able to record myself and start connecting with producers through SoundCloud, I was able to network and use the Internet. And finally, I met someone who was connected to Katy, and he sent over my music. In September 2015, Katy invited me to her house, and I was like freaking out, of course. But when I got there and I played those songs on the piano, it was no different than playing the songs on my own piano for my grandparents - like doing a birthday party or something. You expect these kinds of meetings to be totally different, but really, you’re the same person when you’re in front of these people, or when you’re around these people at parties, and when you’re going to meetings with them and stuff. It’s just important to know that-- I thought I was going to like level up or something, but you don’t, you’re just still the same person. And they’re just like you too! There’s no reason to be intimidated and you just kind of do what you do.

CDM: What's the best piece of advice that Katy has ever given you?
CYN: In a meeting once, I was playing her some music and she said, "Just keep in mind like…" I’ve met some friends here in L.A. who are Hollywood socialites and they’re all really great people, I’m lucky I’m surrounded by such really awesome people, but Hollywood in a way sometimes it doesn’t feel like real life. And so Katy told me, "Just keep in mind, think about your friends in Michigan, think about your friends in Chicago, you want to write songs for people all over the country, and not just the people that you’re meeting in Hollywood." So that was something important that she told me, "Just keep in mind the girls in their room with their hairbrushes singing into them."
CDM: That’s so cool. L.A. can feel so detached from the rest of the world.
CYN: Yeah, totally. My friendbase is really diverse here, but sometimes you just have to pay attention to the rest of the world. It’s important that my music speaks for a good amount of people and not just a small amount.
CDM: Well you already have fan-sites from Brazil and all over the world, so it’s clearly doing the right thing.
CYN: Right? Isn’t that so funny? Yeah, which kinda makes me a little nervous.

CDM: Have you been working with Lauren Glucksman for A&R? (She did A&R on Katy’s album 'Witness’).
CYN: Yeah, Lauren is A&R-ing my whole project as well. She introduced me to a lot of different writers and a lot of different producers. She’s such a cool girl coming from London, and so it’s really great having my experiences collaborating with her experiences and what is [both] our taste in music. It’s great to have more than one perspective when it comes to my music.  

CDM: You had some writing sessions with New Zealander Leroy Clampitt back in March 2016 - is any of that music going to hear the light of day soon?
CYN: Oh! Yes, definitely! There’s one song with Leroy that’s really exciting. We wrote it almost a year ago now, but I heard the final mix for it yesterday, so it will be out soon. I can’t reveal the title yet; I’m really precious about these things. But it’s such a special song, it’s another one that’s really light-hearted and optimistic.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
CYN: Sometimes my ideas will definitely come from poems or prose, or I’ll sing out loud in the shower and then come into the studio with it. But other times, I’ll hear a beat and kind of know what words or what the song should be about. But it’s different every time, the technique. Sometimes when I’m writing in my journal, I’ll say something like, ‘Huh that sounds like the topline of a song,’ and I’ll bring it in.

CDM: In your bio, you state, “I have a lot of fun challenging people's perceptions.” Do you think it’s important for music - whether it be through imagery, lyrics, or even a name - to challenge traditional perceptions?
CYN: Yeah, I think that encouraging people to think in ways they haven’t is something that some art should do. When you’re listening to a song and it’s a perspective you haven't experienced before, it just brings more awareness. It’s like you’re living another life through songs, so you have to put songs out there that encourage different kinds of thinking.

CDM: What do you hope people to take away from listening to your music?
CYN: Well, I certainly hope they’re in a better place after hearing some songs. But for me, music is like therapy in a way. If someone is upset about something and they hear a song of mine and they feel better, that’s good. If they have a feeling that they can’t make sense of - maybe they don’t know if they should fall in love with someone and then they hear one of my songs and they’re like, ‘Man that would be awesome! Maybe I should just go for it!’ I just hope to provide people with more understanding. Maybe if I’m so lucky, you know?

CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play and what would the festival be called?
CYN: Wow! This is something I’d have to contemplate for weeks, but I’ll give it to you right off the top of my head. I have my favourites of today... I really like The Weeknd, I’d like him to be there. I think Vince Staples is new and really cool. Lorde. Ellie Goulding. But I would love to pull in some people from the past like Carole King. Sheryl Crow is really awesome. Stevie Wonder. Just a cool mix of today, and what was going on back then. What would I call it? Oh! I’d call it ‘Magic Chest’.

CDM: If C.Y.N. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
CYN: Let me think... Maybe Curious as the C. Yearning for the Y. And what could I make for the N?... Natural.

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
CYN: I remember... I had to have been seven or eight. Well, I have memories of just being on a swing-set with my best friend as a four year-old, just singing out loud. You know how little kids do that? But when I was eight, I sang a song... I can remember it. Do you want me to sing it for you?
CDM: Yes, please!
CYN: It’s like, <sings> “This is my home, where I feel safe and sound. This is where I belong, and there’s nothing wrong with this place. With this picture on the wall, ‘cuz this is where I think that I belong.” That’s all I’ve got. But isn’t that kind of cute? I remember sitting in my backyard like... I think I was sitting on the dock of the bay of a lake. We lived on a canal, and my parents went through a divorce, so I was coming back-and-forth between my Dad’s house and my Mom’s. So it was just me trying to say, ‘Oh I feel like I kinda belong here at this house.’
CDM: That’s such a cute song. I love that you remember it so vividly. That’s awesome!
CYN: Oh my god, right? I don’t know how, because I wrote songs like a month ago that I probably don’t remember.

CDM: And lastly, if you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
CYN: ‘Lovefool’ by The Cardigans. I think that’s The Cardigans, right? Or Sixth Sense. Double-check because I always get them and Sixth Sense confused because they have the same vibe, but I’m pretty sure it’s The Cardigans.

CYN’s single ‘Together’ is out now - click here to purchase.

Listen to ‘Together’ below…