In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in in the Blank.
Just to be clear, Syna So Pro stands for "Syrhea Conaway solo project" -- not "Syna so professional."
"I'm not trying to be braggy!" jokes Conaway, who has been working on her live looping project since 2007 and will release her second album, Loop Talk Vol. 1 tonight. Also, to further clarify any confusion with names, "Syrhea" is pronounced "suh-ree-uh," and here's how we'll never forget.
"Pete is my nickname," says Conaway. "Little Caesers pizzeria came out with a commercial when I was thirteen-years-old and in seventh grade. All the kids called me 'Pete-Syrhea!' 'Pete-Syrhea!" and it just kind of stuck."
Unique names aside, Conaway creates one-of-a-kind experimental pop music also worth remembering. During a typical solo set, expect to see her on stage wielding guitar, bass, violin, keyboard and her most powerful and practiced instrument of choice: her voice. Throughout the years leading up to the start of her solo project in bands including the Jovian Chorus and the shoegaze-heavy Stella Mora, she acquired all kinds of toys that would eventually make all these elements work in tandem.
Video by Brian McClelland
Conaway, who also currently moonlights in local rock outfits the Pat Sajak Assassins and Humdrum, describes her live solo performances as "dancing on pedals." She puts on a show by building songs one piece at a time right in front of her audience, looping and syncing interlocking parts into uplifting songs that carry orchestral tinges and hints of shoegaze.
And don't be surprised if you catch this quirky artist talking to herself. To keep things interesting, Conaway records her own banter before shows and plays these phrases back between songs so that she can, in a way, have a conversation with herself on stage. If that's not "so pro," we don't know what is.
Syna So Pro releases Loop Talk Vol. 1 The Power of One: The Power of You tonight at the Schlafly Tap Room. Conaway says this is the first of at least four volumes featuring songs she creates with live looping. The second volume, already in the can, is due out this summer.
Though her body of work is represented both live and in recorded form, RFT Music recommends checking out both, as the experiences differ vastly due to the ability to track each element individually and play around with live drums and more in the studio. Get a preview from one of the new tracks below.
We invited Syrhea to fill in the blanks ahead of her album release show tonight. Read on to see what she had to say.
What I like most about St. Louis is... Syrhea Conaway: when I return after being out of town for even a day, I know that I'm home.
I've learned the most from... musically, my high school choir director Jeff Sandquist. There are many one liners he used to say all the time. The one that stuck out the most to me was "mezzo-forte is mezzo-boring," which, to me, translated to "listening to songs that have no dynamic variance is hella boring." I think this is why all of my songs have a clear dynamic climax.
The St Louis music scene could use... This doesn't simply apply to only St. Louis and its music scene, but I think people in general should stop wasting energy on complaining about why their form of art isn't getting a desired amount of press coverage. I think, at a certain level, the coverage isn't going to make or break you. You're the one that will do that. So instead of looking for someone to blame for your level of success, work a little harder.
The best post-show food in St. Louis is... muh kitchen. I'd consider myself an experimental cook/baker. Someone once said I should start a show called "Breakin' the Rules with Syna So Pro." But to actually answer your question, the Schlafly Tap Room, Plush and Lemmons are some personal favorites.
The most memorable show I ever played was... in Columbia, Missouri for True/False Film Fest. I played Cafe Berlin to about 75-plus people, and they were all quiet and listening the entire duration of the show. It freaked me out. Just having a good size crowd with no background chatter was nostalgic -- reminded me of choir/orchestra concerts when it's considered rude to clap in between movements, let alone talk during a performance.
My first band was... Gizburg Duck with two dudes from Potosi, Missouri. I had only been playing the bass for about 4 months before joining that band. We were sloppy as fuck, but some people dug it. Ironically, that band was the first time I played live in KDHX's studio. We were on Bob Reuter's show. For whatever reason, he was into us. I quit the band about six months after I joined. But it was a great experience and from it, I knew that I was going to be doing some form of music for the rest of my life.
Five current artist worth listening to are... the Vanilla Beans, Illphonics, the Jungle Fire, Zagk Gibbons, *cough* self promotion *cough* the Pat Sajak Assassins, Thelonius Kryptonite, Elektrip, Town Cars... and there's much more, but Syna So Ain't Got Time to list them all.
The most difficult lesson I've learned while playing music is... more gear, more problems.
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Do you know a project or band that should be considered for this series? Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously from our Fill in the Blank series: - Eric Hall - Pink Sock - Scrub - Pet Rock the Musical - The Glass Cavalry - The Blu Skies - Animal Teeth - Popular Mechanics - Brotherfather - Bad Dates - Beauty Pageant - Pillow Talk - The Tennis Lesson - The Funs - Brothers Lazaroff - Quaere Verum - MME - Sarah Bollinger - Little Big Bangs - Everything Went Black - Lions Eat Grass - Kevin Harris - Laika - Heavy Horse - Barely Free Partial Prisoners - The Defeated County - Lizzie Weber - Kenshiro's - B.E.L.L.A. - Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship - Humdrum - The Blind Eyes