Breaking into the country music scene as a woman isn't easy. Sydney Anderson, a local musician, has found herself playing with a lot of cover bands and singing the national anthem too many times to count as she prepares to release her first original EP, which is self-titled.
When it comes to her interest in music, Anderson is the outlier in her family. No one in her family had ever done anything in music, she says. When she was young, she would go around the house singing what she called “her sad song.” It was the best way she could express the way she was feeling, she says.
Her parents thought it was hilarious. They recorded it and sent the tapes to Anderson’s grandparents in Nashville. Her grandfather had nothing but encouragement to offer to Anderson.
“When I was about 7 years old, he had sent me a cassette of Patsy Cline and told me that if I learned some of those songs that he would take me around some of the honky-tonks and I’d be able to sing,” Anderson says.
She learned "Leavin’ on Your Mind." Her grandfather lived up to his word and took Anderson to venues such as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Wolfy’s bar in Nashville. Performing was unlike anything she had ever done before, she says.
“When you’re a kid, you don’t really think about [nerves],” she says. “It’s just the most exhilarating high and feeling. I can’t imagine my life without it.”
As an adult, Anderson was hired to do sync licensing for Universal Music Group. Primarily, she was placing music in commercials and television in the Canadian market. She met Zach Balch, a local singer-songwriter and recording engineer.
“She never remembers this, but I’ve actually known her since she was a student at Dallas Baptist University," Balch says. "She always conveniently forgets that we’ve known each other for that long."
Originally, Anderson reached out to Balch for feedback on a few songs she was developing. Balch believed in her voice and wanted to help as much as he could, she says. He gave her confidence ,and after hashing out a few songs together, the two decided to partner up for Anderson’s first original EP.
Balch says Anderson has a lot of things going for her that he does not.
“She’s got a lot of energy; she’s very business oriented and she’s a very talented, attractive young singer,” Balch says. “I’m a dude in my 30s. Me as a songwriter, [I] have some maturity that she hasn’t quite accumulated yet.”
Each song is written a little differently, Anderson says. Sometimes she and Balch will develop a song based on something that happened in Anderson’s life. "Sweet Escape," for example, was written about Anderson’s grandmother being in the hospital and how distraught Anderson was at the time. Other times, the two will work on different stanzas for a song and meet in the middle.
“It’s been a wonderful experience being able to write with Zach and partner with him on this project,” Anderson says.
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The final mixes of the EP were recorded at Balch’s home and at Spaceway Studios in Fort Worth. Balch says they tracked the songs twice. They first did tracking at Drive 35 Productions, a recording studio in Carrollton. After revisiting the recordings, they decided to track everything again and reduce the production of the sound.
“We just kind of overdid it,” Balch says. “We revisited some ideas and resculpted [it] more around her as a singer and less around the band.”
Lyrically, Balch says, the EP is about the power of self, finding worth internally and Anderson’s independence as a woman. Although the EP does not have a set release date, all the tracking is done, and Balch receives mixes of the songs every day.
Once this project is done, Balch and Anderson plan to write more songs and perform together acoustically and with a full band.