Bubble-Blowing Goddess: An Interview with Sy Smith

Although the new norm for Sy Smith is recording songs in the attic office of her 110-year-old home, it took some time for her to become comfortable doing so.

When the pandemic shut down the majority of the United States, Smith immediately took to the internet to create livestream shows with friend and fellow musician Dominique “Xavier” Taplin. Each livestream had a “theoretical” setlist, according to Smith, but regularly consisted of freestyling. During a soundcheck in November, Taplin began playing a chord progression that immediately made Smith think of “Feeling Good”. Despite not knowing the majority of the words, and the chord progression sounding nothing like the original song, something about it felt right.

With the lyrics typed out and taped to her fireplace, she performed it that day to nothing but positive feedback. They recorded the song in December and intentionally released it at the end of that month.

“I had my whole life's sources pulled from me in terms of touring and that kind of thing so I've had to really choose joy every single day,” she said. “This song was my way of putting that intention into the world and hoping that other people can take that too; choosing joy as a means of not just something we’re supposed to feel, but something we’re choosing every day.”

Smith wanted to film a video for the song as well, and called up another friend, photographer and video director Mike Quain. She knew exactly what she wanted the video to entail: Shots of her cleaning up a room, but instead of throwing away garbage, she would be throwing away negative attributes that were keeping her from reaching her goals. Once she would step outside, she would see bubbles holding positive attributes, and would catch them to place in her bag. The other scene would have an afrofuturism version of herself blowing the bubbles, with Taplin’s solo mixed in.

It was her first time writing a treatment for a music video, but she knew exactly what she wanted the video to represent.

“The whole point was not just about getting rid of the things that we don't need that set us off of our path and gaining the things that we do need, but it was also about me being the bubble-blowing goddess,” she said. “[It] was about saying that we can be our own source of everything we need, that it's all right there with us. We just have to tap into our innermost high to find them.”

Sy Smith has learned a lot about herself as she has been navigating her way through this global pandemic. She has learned to trust her own instincts and rely on herself when it comes to recording music. Looking back on where she was a year ago, she has seen how much she has stepped out of her comfort zone to accomplish her goals.

“The discomfort was really just because I was used to doing something a certain way,” she said. “Sometimes the discomfort is really just about the unknown and now that I know I can do this on my own or do it differently, I'm much more comfortable now.”