Interview – Sydney Sprague

Sydney Sprague

Sydney Sprague’s first full length album ‘maybe i will see you at the end of the world’ will be released on February 26th. At 29, Sydney brings maturity and vision to her music that showcases her strong vocals, songwriting and confidence, as she creates her unique brand of indie music…

Although 2020 was a tough year, you’ve had many good things happen. Rude Records signed you to their label. How did that come about?

It happened through Mike Pepe, who mixed my record. He’s out in LA. He’s good friends with one of the A&R guys at Rude, and he sent the company the finished product. Rude Records had just signed Sundressed (a Phoenix band), and I sang on one of their songs. I had already released the first song, i refuse to die, so they had to get on board pretty quickly to get the record out.

How is it working with a label as opposed to working independently in the past?

They paid for the album I had already recorded. I was able to use that money to create videos and content. They also hooked me up with PR companies worldwide, a Facebook and Instagram marketing company, and branding marketing. My video, object permanence, is playing at Hot Topic.

This is your first full-length album.  When did you record it?

I did it in January 2020. We booked Hall of Justice studio in Seattle for the month. Nirvana and some of the older bands from Seattle recorded at the studio, and then it was bought by Death Cab for Cutie, where they recorded their albums.

Sydney Sprague album cover

The music on this album is a departure from your past music.  Tell me about the writing and recording process that went into the album.

This was the first time I went into the studio with all the songs acoustically demoed and the producer, Sam Rosson, came up with all the parts. I had more confidence coming into the studio with how I wanted the songs to sound. I did some rudimentary recording at home of the basic parts that I heard in my head and what I wanted it to sound like, then took that into the studio. Sam and I met in the middle to create the final recordings. The first week of recording was getting the basic tracks down of guitar and scratch vocals. After that, we spent two to three days on each song but not in any particular order. We tried a lot of the different pedals and instruments that were at the studio then scaled back a lot.

Does the album have an overall theme to it?

I think it’s love in the time of the apocalypse. It’s trying to be hopeful and having all these feelings, but knowing that you are running out of time.

Is there someone or a style that influenced your album?

It’s a combination of everything that I love. There’s some emo pop-punk influences but primarily indie bands. I would say Death Cab for Cutie because their albums were influential to me, and I loved all the weird ear candy sounds you heard in their music. That’s why I wanted to record at that studio. I got to learn how to make those sounds on my music.

I’ve seen you perform object permanence often on stage, but the album’s version is so different, more upbeat.  Was that change planned ahead of time, or was that something that happened in the studio?

Honestly, that song was the biggest struggle in the studio.  We recorded it a couple of ways. I had two demos, one the way that I had played it on stage with acoustic and some other parts added, but stripped back and simple. The other version was with the Mill boys (Jared and The Mill’s Chuck Morris III, Larry Gast III, and Josh Morin). Larry had a cool guitar part that we messed around with in the other version, but it was too grungy. It sounded like a 90’s rock song. The final recording is a middle version of the two ideas.

Sydney Sprague

You have four official videos released, with one more on the way.  Did you go to  Michael Carter and Dick Dorado of Rhodes Creative LLC with a vision of what the videos would be?

It’s been an interesting process of coming up with the videos. Going into it, I had many ideas but Michael was the real driver of that. I’m not a visual person for translating the words for my songs, but Michael and Dick came up with the majority of concepts and ideas we could incorporate into the videos. They understand my personality and sense of humor then translated it into the video. The steve, staircase failure and quitter videos were all pretty much Dick’s ideas. The guys built the videos from the ground up – steve, which was the first video Rhodes Creative made, was nominated for best music video at the Indie Film Fest in Phoenix.

Does doing A Case of Mondays on Twitch help keep your music fresh and give you a sense of connection?

At the beginning of the quarantine, I was writing and recording music at home, but with the album release and making videos, it’s been harder to make time to play. Before the pandemic, I played cover gigs at least five nights a week, giving me the time to practice. Twitch gives me a chance to play and connect with my friends, even if it’s not in person.

Do you have a pandemic playlist?

I tend to go to nostalgic music, the 90s and early 2000s, that I used to listen to a lot.

What do you think playing is going to look like when you can play live again?

I think there’s going to be a lot more competition because so many bands have been off the road for so long, and there are fewer venues to go back to. I think that living room/backyard shows may be more popular for artists of my size.

If you could play anywhere safely right now, where would you like to play?

I think it would be Rebel Lounge (Phoenix, AZ). It’s my second home. I feel like I was there once a week for a year.

maybe i will see you at the end of the world is released this Friday 26th February, pre-order here.

Interview by Jennifer Mullins
Photos by Natasha Wilson

24th February 2021