Syd Carter West (Vancouver) is described on her Twitter page as a singer/songwriter and poetic outcast.
Before Syd used both sides of her family to create Syd Carter West stage name, she was known as Poetic Outcast, which is forever tattooed on her arm.
“I’ve always felt like an outcast, ever since I was little. I felt things really deeply and intensely.”
Syd’s quirks and personally were not fully understood in school, some even thinking she was a vampire because of her pale demeanor and preference for dark clothes.
She would often write, “that’s where I connected most with my emotions & myself.”
The hindsight of age teaches us that what makes us odd, and different, often are our superpowers later in life, as is the case with Syd.
“Through all the battles, the hard times, the successes, I’ve come to realize the power and strength that can come from a weakness.”
That is the topic for her latest release The Ugly Truth:
“Taking what you thought was a weakness, what couldn’t be fixed, what could ruin your life…and creating something beautiful and giving it purpose.”
Syd wants us to know that the light can shine through when you turn a negative into a positive.
Young 2-year-old Syd would sing perfect pitch, at the back of her mom’s car, before she could even speak.
By the age of 6, it was Amanda Marshall, Jewel, Dido that would play in the car.
“I remember getting chills every time, as my mother and I would sing to the chorus.”
At the age of 8 or 9, her first exploration into writing a song was caused by a fight with a friend whom she had since being 4 months old.
“I remember being heart broken, very angry and felt betrayed.”
What started as a poem, naturally evolved into a song, sparked by a line that translated into a melody in her mind.
She started singing along to these new lyrics, when her mom asked her what was going on.
The realization that she could write a song gave her chills.
“Even to this day, I get chills running through me, just because of how connected and magical it feels to write a song. It’s a very vulnerable and empowering experience.”
She was now ready to be enrolled in music lessons and later nudged into opera, at the age of 12.
Opera seemed like an odd choice, considering Syd was into contemporary music, but her teacher, Ingrid Suderman, made an exception for her age, and took her on. The power of her voice was the deciding factor.
Following her dreams and doubling down on her talent was what brought her to a positive place.
“I was in a dark place for a while as a young teenager who didn’t know who she was. Music was always there to give me purpose and give me a consistent path to follow, an outlet to express myself.”
Her journey put her in contact with her current producer and songwriting soulmate John MacArthur Ellis, along with talented musicians, including her drummer Pat Steward (Brian Adams).
The Ugly Truth
The fire on the cover represents her fiery heart & personality.
“For a while I had to learn how to tone it down” which led her to become someone who wasn’t really herself.
Syd has learned to control that inner fire, but let its energy infuse into the music she writes and performs.
It was at this point that I confessed that I’m not a big fan of modern country music.
Yet, from the first notes of the new single, I pictured myself, pretending my Honda Rebel 500 was actually a Harley Davidson, parked outside a Roadhouse on Route 66, and I would be enjoying this song along with all the misfits and outlaws.
Technically, Syd’s music is not Country, but a more Rock infused concoction called Americana. She gives Chris Stapleton as an example of this genre, one of her favorites.
If given the choice, would Syd want to be a performer back in the “old Country days” or right now, her answer was definite:
“The perfect time for me is now because I really get to create music that speaks to me on an authentic level. I get to write my truth.”
In the past, when she would turn the dial closer to country, away from Southern Rock, she wasn’t fully being herself.
She confessed that she’s into 70s Rock. “Led Zeppelin is my favorite band of all time.”
So, the dial is closer to Southern Rock, and she admits that from a Country perspective:
“I don’t fit in. I’m too edgy. I’m too dark. I’ve been told I’m more of a Rock star than anything.”
That’s OK. Remember, Syd can turn the negatives into positives.
Cheaters obviously was born from a relationship that wasn’t healthy.
When the relationship ended, the feelings were capture into song.
“I had to sit with my feelings, pain, suffering and loneliness for a while. With pain comes a certain amount of courage.”
Last year, Syd discovered the beauty of connecting with herself.
She would contemplate these emotion while hiking or during her solo road trip in B.C..
Syd would talk to herself while driving, laugh with herself and sing at the top of her lungs.
What Syd did was similar to an exercise that is very powerful. Look at yourself in the mirror and say: I love you.
Repeat that till you mean it.
There will be a point where belief will cross the path of compassion for who you are, and inevitably tears will flow as you confront your worst critic: You.
Syd admits that you can lose yourself in relationship, and “no matter how much you try to love someone…if you do not love yourself more, it’s not going to work out.”
“A friendship or a relationship is only a reflection of the relationship you have with yourself.”
She went on to explain that if you exhibit insecurity or self-hate, “you will be in relationships with people who will confirm that feeling by treating you just as bad as you do to yourself.”
This is also the root cause of bullying, something that both Syd and I had to experience growing up.
“I wish I could tell my younger self: When a bully is bullying you, it has nothing to do with you. They are just projecting the hate and self-loathing that they are experiencing within themselves. You just happen to be in the crossfire.”
Yet, all these negative experiences made Syd the woman she is today; Strong.
That strength was captured in the song Cheaters.
As the kid who would go to the pool wearing a t-shirt, thinking it would hide the fact that I was overweight, body image is something many of us confront.
Syd will use clothes to cover some insecurities, even today and admits that much of her pain & suffering was related to body issues.
Her message to anyone having these same struggles is:
“Your body is a part of you. It’s your vessel that carries the most important, meaningful, deep part of you which is your soul…your personality…who you are. Your vessel is there to carry you, comfort you, shelter you and protect you from everything that could possibly hurt that. Why would you want to hurt something, or judge something that is simply trying to support you? Honor that relationship with your body.”
With this perspective, honoring your body is done by feeding it good food and giving it the rest it needs.
What is dangerous is comparing ourselves with others.
As a makeup artist and photographer in the fashion industry, Syd’s eyes were opened to the dangers that this industry can have on others.
“It’s all retouched’, explains Syd.
The ugliness is that some will believe the photo is what this person really looks like.
The beauty is that it’s only telling a story, where the model is simply a character.
“They are just creating an image that is an expression of their artistry. It has nothing to do with how they view people. A lot of the models are down to earth because of being judged and tormented about their body.”
Tides are changing as Syd shares a law in Paris where models will not hit the runway unless they have a proper weight to body ratio.
“I’ve been at such a low place in my life, that I now believe that nothing can get worse than that. I’m a strong person. I’ve battled through many emotions. I’ve felt a lot of things. I came back up feeling confident and better. If I can do that, I’m confident I can get through life finding joy and passion. I know music has always been there to create confidence and self-love for me.”
Confidence also lets Syd get on stage, where she feels at home.
“When I go on stage, there is this certain boost of energy that comes into me. I’m in a zone, like a trance. I don’t even see the audience sometimes because I’m so in the moment.”
Syd’s motivation is that she is there “to sing a song to the audience and showcase what that song is about. I’m an interpreter.”
Like a model or actor, her goal is to let the audience feel, connect, and relate.
Syd has the confidence to allow her voice to speak for her.
“Confidence is the result of just being you and being unapologetic about that.”
Syd once said: “I’m an open book.”
When asked to give that book a title, her answer was: “I don’t want to put a title on anything. I would have to call it “The Book of Unknown.”
Syd believes that putting titles is unnecessary. She prefers not to judge a book by its cover.
That book remains open, and it continually gets written by her life’s experiences.
Syd had her own line of double shot glasses.
Her liquid of choice to fill these would be Jack Daniels Honey or Fire.
If we were having a shot of Whiskey, 1 year from now to celebrate something she just accomplished, it would be having her album out and people loving it. More than that, it’s about having people relate to the songs.
“I want to tour so bad!”
We would celebrate her tour and people digging her sound.
Fantasy Rock/Country Band
Syd and I played a round of Fantasy Rock Band, a game where she is asked to imagine the ultimate band.
When asked, here were her choices.
Lead Vocals: Chris Stapleton. “His voice is so powerful.”
Secondary Vocals: Stevie Nicks. “Because Fleetwood Mac was amazing, and she did an amazing job.”
Guitar: Jimmy Page
Bass: Rob Becker (her own bass player). “He’s amazing, unreal.”
Drummer: Pat Steward (Brian Adams). “C’mon. He did Summer of ’69 so I’ve got to give that to him.”
Syd Carter West obviously has a deep connection to Rock-n-Roll and that bleeds into her Country infused Americana Rock.
While a lifelong journey, she has come to terms with many of her feelings, and has grown as a person, and performer.
Her ability to use her voice to release these dark emotions brings light to the subject and empowers the listener to follow her journey of self-discovery and self-love.
Syd’s superpower is to turn darkness into light and confront the Ugly Truth, yet bring a shining ray of hope, in the form of a fire.
Fire will destroy all impurities, and cleanse.
As Syd confronts the negatives in her life, she purifies the emotions through her raw power, and exposes us to a light that we can reach towards to pull ourselves out of the darkness.
Syd Carter West is the torch that can bring light into your world…even if you, like me, don’t enjoy Country.
All you have to do is listen.
Connect with Syd
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today MasterMind Experience for musicians. Randal also is a collector of signed vinyl.Share this :