Interview

Singer/Songwriter Sevyn Streeter Talks Self Respect And Musical Inspiration

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 Humble, talented and beautiful both inside and out; Sevyn Streeter has gained a massive presence in the music industry as an individual artist and as a songwriter. Being in the industry for over a decade, and continuing her profession after her stint with RichGirl; the 28-year-old performer is definitely in the prime of her career as she’s preparing for big things to come in the future including a new album, touring, and lots of music.

As a young lady in this male dominant music industry, Sevyn is certainly holding down her crown by shedding light on her adeptness in her art rather than conforming to the over-sexualized stigma of women in the industry. Although Sevyn is a firm believer in women expressing themselves, she is a prime example of a proud and respectable woman who takes her artistry seriously. She has climbed the ladder to the top dignified and without compromise—a true inspiration to any young woman trying to make their way through the industry. Her word of advice is to take advantage of every opportunity and to never take anything for granted.

Growing up on 4th Street in Haines City, Florida, Sevyn has always been extremely family oriented. In order for her to stay grounded throughout the process of her stardom, the notable songwriter has managed to overcome the pressure of the industry by making sure her morals and values were set in stone. Fusing elegance, sex appeal, and a little bit of tomboy; Sevyn has become a fan favorite with a strikingly unique voice and an effortless stage presence.

Currently, the Atlantic Records artist is working on her new album set to release this summer. PYNK Magazine got to chat with Sevyn to discuss her forthcoming album On the Verge, what made her go grey, and how she’s celebrating Women’s History Month. In the wise words of Sevyn Streeter, “everyone is on the verge of something,” and in her case she is on the verge of the next step in her career. Scroll through the following pages to learn more about Sevyn’s musical inspiration and the best advice she’s ever gotten.

Photo Credit(s): Getty Images, Vimeo, Billboard and Instagram

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What are you working on currently? Right now, I’m working on the album it’s completed. I spent a lot of time just focusing on that so now I’m on the road doing one of my favorite things—being able to actually talk to the fans as opposed to doing drops for them over the phone. So the album’s done and I’m just out here running my mouth to everybody about it. It’s called On The Verge and I’m really excited about it. We called it On The Verge because everyone is on the verge of something: a break through, a party, a break up…I’m on the verge of something really dope and really beautiful, which is my album, so I’m in a good place and I can’t wait for everybody to hear it.

When is the release date?  It’s definitely coming out in the summer. We don’t have an official date yet, but it will be here in the summer and you’ll be able to pre-order it before then and probably get a preview of some of the songs.

How would you describe your music style and where do you get your inspiration? My style of music is always going to be rooted in urban and R&B music because I’m from the south. I grew up singing in church and being around a lot of R&B music and soul music. I have to be versatile and write records for so many different types of artists, so my personal musical style is kind of a fuse of all those things together. They still come from me at the end of the day, so I don’t like to put myself in a box and say that I make a particular style of music. I like to write records like “Fine China” for Chris, so those records are in me. And I like to write records like “Strip” for Chris so those types of records are in me too. I don’t really I have a particular style; I just love music. And I love to sing whatever feels right to me at that moment. It has to be truthful, whether it’s my truth or somebody else’s.

What made you want to become a solo artist after your stint with Rich Girl? Man, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. That never left me, but I’ve always been really big on taking whatever it is that god puts in front of you and making the best out of that. So once Rich Girl ended, I had the opportunity to write and it’s so crazy because you just never know what god may have in store for you. I never thought that I would become a songwriter, but I did and that actually led me to become an artist again. I was writing so many records with Chris and demoing a lot of the female records that we wrote. That ended up turning into him saying, “you know what? You going to be my artist one day.” And I would tease him and say “no I’m not,” but little did I know that ended up happening. It just came back around and when it did, it came back better to be quite honest. I wouldn’t change the route and the path that my life has taken for the world.

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As a young female artist in a male dominated industry, what has your journey been like to get respect as an artist?

It definitely is a male dominated industry and respect is extremely important. One thing I will say, especially in the beginning when I was just starting to work with different writers, producers and artists, I would watch how I came dressed to the studio. That was one thing that I really paid close attention to. I wouldn’t be in the studio dressed like I was going to the club because I wanted to be respected for my writing abilities and my talent. I didn’t want all the extra attention. As long as they were paying attention to them records I was good.

It’s really important to get respect, especially as a female, and once they respect you, then you’re good. That’s why I’ve been able to work with so many dope male artists because there is a level of respect.

Who were your favorite artists that you’ve worked with on the album and with your music in general?

Obviously, I’ve done a lot of work with Chris, so he goes without saying, but I think with the album Ty dollar $ign is on the album and August Alsina. I enjoyed working with the two of them. They’re really dope and I really love what they brought to the album. With Ty, there’s something about the grittiness of his voice, the way he sings and the way he does some of his adlibs, I enjoyed that collaboration so much. The same thing with August; I love how our voices sounded together, the record with he and I is crazy. I have other collaborations on the album that are surprises. I enjoyed all the collaborations on the album because they all brought something so different.

What side of Sevyn Streeter are we going to see on the album?  

The side of Sevyn Streeter that you’re going to get on On The Verge is a real side. You don’t feel the same way every day. I don’t wake up happy every single day, you don’t want to go to a club every single day, and you don’t want to be crying over a guy everyday. It’s just life and the way that I approached the album was writing according to how I felt that day. So when you hear the album, you’re going to hear everything that I went through last year. Everything that I was going through over the months that I was creating it, so you kind of get to experience every side of me because literally there were days when I went to the studio and I could not stop crying. I was crying uncontrollably because of something that I went through with somebody and thank god that they cut it off the track because the crying would have been on the song, but it was an ugly cry. You have records like On The Verge where I didn’t want to go out to the club and I was just like we’re going to bring the club to us and have fun in the studio. Everything that I felt is on the album; you have the sexier records like “Sex on the Ceiling,” which is a little freaky. There’s a record called “4th Street” where I’m talking about my family and good people and you’ll see a side of me that’s a little bit of Sevyn and a little bit of Amber, so you get to see every side.  

How do you stay grounded in an industry where you’re always in the spotlight?

I think I stayed grounded by losing two record deals and coming up on my third one and knowing that at any day I can lose that one too. I don’t take my record deal lightly at all; I don’t think anybody should because at the end of the day, you don’t have to be interviewing me right now, that was your choice and I appreciate that.

Same thing with my fans, they don’t have to buy my music, they don’t have to listen to it, they don’t have to tweet me, but they do and I love them for it. I don’t have a choice but to keep my feet planted because I’ve been through the here today gone tomorrow type of situation and I don’t want that to happen again. Even though those situations weren’t my fault and they went away, I was still affected by them. I was affected in a good way because I appreciate my opportunities a whole lot more.

sev Have you ever gotten some great advice from another artist? Who was it and what was the advice? 

Growing up I was obsessed with Brandy. I had her posters all around my room. Once I found out she was going to Pepperdine University, I was like “I’m going to Pepperdine University just like Brandy.” So to become an artist and a writer and be able to write songs for her on her last album; it was a dream come true. Being in her presence and to just hear her sing lyrics from my hand was just trippy. We have a special friendship and every time I see her, she’s amazing. Last time I saw her she just looked at me after we were talking and she was like “Sevyn, don’t change…remain who you are and don’t let anything change you.” Hearing that from somebody who’s been doing it for so long and still has that mindset, that’s going to stick with me forever.

What is some advice that you would give someone trying to become an artist?

I say this and I mean it because I’ve done it, my advice for anybody trying to become an artist is to sing everywhere that you possibly can. Don’t be shy; take advantage of opportunity. Like if you come across an artist that you look up to, take advantage of that. Don’t let that opportunity pass you and then say to yourself “I wish I would’ve said something.” Right then and there be prepared. Always have songs in your head that you can sing at the drop of a dime and make sure that you always keep a jump drive on you with all your songs on it and demos so you’re ready at any given moment.

Outside of music, is there anyone who inspires you?

 There are people in different professions that I appreciate. Like, I love and I admire Naomi Campbell. Especially being a brown skin black woman. You don’t always have a lot of great examples to look up to, but she’s one of them. It was amazing to be able to look at magazines and see someone that I could be like. Even what’s going on, on television right now is amazing. I hope that they keep pushing it. To see African-American women leading television shows is absolutely amazing. To see Keri Washington, Taraji and How to Get Away With Murder is amazing. It’s great to see all these talented black women doing such a great job. I’m not surprised that they’re doing a great job because the talent has been there, we’ve just been waiting on the opportunity and I’m happy that the opportunities are finally here.

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Where do you get your inspiration from for your personal style?

 I get inspiration from so many things like videos from the 90s. Who doesn’t love the 90s? I’m a little obsessed with the 90s. My style is sexy and a little sporty too. I like to be tomboyish, wearing cute little dresses and sneakers. I might keep a leg out and throw on a leather jacket, but I like to mix it up. Some days I do feel kind of girly. Even my really girly is still going to have some edge to it. I’m not going to be walking around with some frilly pink dress and if I am, I’m going to have like a black leather jacket over it. It’s never one sided for me.

What made you want to go grey?

Right now my hair is black, but Grey Bae is in my bag. I went gray because of the space and vibe I’m in right now. Something just clicked and I just started really enjoying my life. Especially with this album and trying different things. I didn’t want it to just stop with music, so when it came to do my video and I was thinking about how I wanted my hair to look, I didn’t want to put myself in a box. So my stylist Caesar was like I have this idea to do this grayish blue-ish hair I didn’t want to kill the fun so I was like let’s go and I loved it. I’ve wanted to play around with that color for a minute anyway, so it just worked out.

Being from Florida, would you say that your hometown molded you into who you are today?

Yes mam, hence me saying “yes mam.” Florida is my foundation and it isn’t going anywhere. I have an amazing family, they are one of a kind. I wrote a song about it on my album called “4th Street,” which is the street where I grew up. I have two sets of grandparents on that street and about five other houses of relatives: cousins, aunts and uncles. That’s the street that raised me and I wrote a song about it because they’re just good people. If I go home right now and say “I’m running low on some cash can I borrow some?” I know I can go to anybody in my family and on that street. If music ended tomorrow and I had to go home, they’re going to pat me on my back say, “job well done,” and help me figure out what I’m going to do next. Florida and the south is home to a lot of good people. They don’t want anything from me, they just want to see me; and I appreciate that. That’s my foundation and it has everything to do with why I am how I am and why I am where I am.

How have you been celebrating Women’s History Month?

I’ve actually been posting really dope women who inspire me on my Instagram. I posted Etta James, Whitney Houston, Nina Simone and others. It’s been all about the women on my IG this month. I love talking to young women and things like that. Being on the road I’ve been able to talk to a lot of young girls. They’re young girls today, but they’ll be grown women tomorrow, so it’s important what we say to them now and what they learn now because they’ll carry that with them for the rest of their lives. I love the entire month.      

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