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Syd Caldera – What Feels Good

Syd Caldera – What Feels Good

 Syd Caldera – What Feels Good

Syd Caldera – What Feels Good

ARTIST NAME: Syd Caldera


SONG TITLE: What Feels Good




GENRE: Cowboy Alt-Rock/Acoustic Rock/Folk Rock



















Syd Caldera is a New York City artist with Oklahoma roots who ping pongs between the love of acoustic guitar, 90s drums, and the sickest of bass lines.





Why is it so hard for me to find the in-between
Wanna be somewhere
In the middle of the gods and obsolete
Boredom and elation
Fireworks and streetlights
High road and low road
Middle of the night
Is my heart
Open or closed?


When all the things I feel
Seem to be wrong
I make myself numb
And live for pleasure


If anything that’s real
Turns me on
I make it my own
Till it’s a desert


Ahh… just gimme what feels good
Oooh… just gimme what feels good
Ahh… just gimme what feels good


I just plain forgot what it felt like to be a child
Wandering down a quiet road alone
The nightlife or the daylight
The lettuce or the pie
I’m either sober or wasted
I’m laughing or I’m crying
Is my heart
Broken or whole?


When all the things I feel
Seem to be wrong
I make myself numb
And live for pleasure


If anything that’s real
Turns me on
I make it my own
Till it’s a desert



Discuss your music life.
I identify as a songwriter. Although “What Feels Good” was created in the studio, for the most part, I’m creating music out of my bedroom and collaborating with producers remotely. I am a singer and guitar player, and I produce and record on Ableton. I have a daily writing practice and a community of supportive musician friends.


Discuss the recording of this song.
In 2019, I contacted Ben Diexler, who I met through a studio in Rockaway Park, Queens, and he seemed really down to get together and make some recordings. He and I originally tracked the vocals and guitar completely solo, but I knew I wanted to up the energy significantly from my other releases. When I told him I wanted to add drums and bass, he played the track for his bandmates, Aidan Boardman and Dylan Conley, and to my surprise, they were interested in hopping on the tracks. Those guys are so in tune with each other and the three of them did such a service to the song and the whole EP. By the time we started mixing the album, COVID had hit. So we were mixing the whole thing remotely over email. I sent the mix to Jocelyn MacKenzie, who’s a friend of mine from the neighborhood and the founder of this amazing female/non-binary PUSH Collective we’re both a part of, named after her album PUSH (check it out!), and she was like “SYD, I wish I could record backups on ‘What Feels Good,” so I encouraged her to do it on whatever mic she had. Then I emailed her vocal tracks to Ben and he added them in. I’m so happy we could get Jocelyn onto this track.


Discuss the lyrics of this song.
They’re about feeling torn or feeling like I have to choose, and having these really black and white principles like I’m either a good human or a trash puddle. The chorus sits at the consequence of that. Overwhelm takes me to numbing and seeking pleasure. And when one thing stops bringing me pleasure, I look for something else. Could be chocolate, could be exercise, could be substances, really anything that “Feels Good.”


Discuss the melody of the song.
With this song and all the songs on the EP by the same name, I was experimenting with leaving space for more instrumentals to come through. The original melody was the chorus, and it was this slowed-down longing thing. I wanted it to be silky and sensual like it was melting on my tongue. I also wanted to boost the energy, so I played with contrasting the lusciousness of the chorus with something quick and biting in the verse and adding a lot of good rhythms the listener can groove to.


Explain your songwriting process.
My songwriting process is that I pick up the guitar. I record some guitar and vocals on my phone. I write down the first thing that comes to mind in my notebook. Then I do a free-write on whatever the dominant subject is that I’ve written down. Then I circle the phrases that have a nice ring to them. Then I brainstorm phrases related to that. Then I use a thesaurus to find more words to describe those things or get different angles. Then I go back to the guitar. And I stop while I’m ahead.


Tell us what makes this song unique.
There’s a fun rhythm change in the chorus. I use some major 7 chords, which are pretty nifty. And hey, it’s all from personal experience, and what’s more unique than someone spilling his or her guts, right? Eh?


Tell us how you develop your sound.
I play the guitar, which is usually pretty melodic and chill, and then I think, how do I make this fun and interesting? And then I let myself get weird, and it all just evolves.


Explain your music style.
Everything that was on the Classic Rock and Pop radio where I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma between the years 1990 and 2007 is burnt into my brain. After I left home, I moved to Oregon and became really inundated with folk and bluegrass culture. I spent five years playing acoustic music on the front porch with my friends. Since moving to the east coast, I’m really inspired by the amazing digital soundscapes we can create now with production technology. I ping pong between a love of mainly these three things, and What Feels Good is me digging into a little bit of twang mixed with my desire to stick my tongue out and play music in a garage.


Discuss your music background.
I was in a church choir by the time I could stand up. School had me playing the recorder, then I played the flute. I was in piano lessons for a while too, but I was terrified of disappointing my teacher so I quit. I took two or three guitar lessons when I was fourteen with my brother’s nylon-string guitar. I showed up and the teacher asked if I wanted to learn “classical” guitar. I said yes, but I was too shy to speak up when I realized he didn’t mean classic rock, so classical guitar is my foundation. Then, every album and record that I stole from my dad’s CD rack or found in some dusty cabinet when I was a teenager. Also, it was the age of pirates, and the Internet developed with me, so I had plenty of illegally downloaded college rock thanks to my older brother, who figured all that out and then showed me how to do it. I was in a couple of bands in high school, and in college, I was encouraged to start writing songs. Someone told me “anything can be a song” and it changed my life. So I wrote, and played open mics, then got on a few bills here and there. An ex-boyfriend introduced me to Ableton and midi controllers, and I became interested in recording and engineering my music. Very steep learning curve there. Around the same time, I had started street performing and busking, first in Tulsa, a bit in New Orleans or other towns here and there, then in Chicago, then in NYC, where I made my living playing in the subways for a year. In Tulsa, I was busking with a group of guys who were teaching me swing songs and outlaw country, and then I started digging into these really iconic blues artists and then the flowering of the jazz singer. I started studying the charts and getting into the crooners.
For a few years I was really swimming in all that juicy theory and form, but to be honest I got kinda caught up and lost myself. Now, I’m glad to be focusing on the rowdiness of slamming on guitar strings and spitting out words however they move me. I’m so grateful for the influence of all these things because now they help me express myself better.


Tell us the factors you consider in a good song.
A good song keeps me interested in some way, whether that’s through narrative, or characters, or melody, or energy, or hooks. All kinds of hooks: rhythmic hooks, melodic hooks, and lyrical hooks. If something is really pretty or heartbreaking I’ll listen to it over and over till I’m lovesick for it. If something swings and shouts joy, it’ll charm me. A lot of it is energy for me right now.


Elaborate on your fan base.
I think some of my friends are starting to like my music, which is cool. My fans are the best people ever, the realest, most sincere, and genuine music lovers. Bless them all.


Discuss your future goals.
It all comes down to the writing for me. I’d love to be able to collaborate with the folks I admire. I want to write for films and for other people. I want to tour with the band, see the world, entertain people, and bring them joy. Brand partnerships, using my powers for good, and all that… Build up women and people of color, folks who are underrepresented in the industry. There’s room for all of us.


Mention those that have supported you so far.
So many people have let me sleep on their couch, or in their car, or in their garage, including my parents and my hometown friends. Ben Diexler has spent hours and hours with my music and me always done right by it. Dylan Conley played the drums on this record, Aidan Boardman played the bass, and they blew my mind. I am so grateful for their creative contribution. Dan Millice mastered the record – he was a delight to work with and did me a real solid there. Dave Keener and Karen Dahlstrom host a radio show out of Maker Park Radio in Staten Island called Songwriter Deathmatch and they had me on when I was just getting back into the swing of writing again. Other DJs over there have aired my songs as well: thank you.
I’m part of a collective of women and non-binary folks called the PUSH collective, and they inspire me and redefine success for me over and over. Jocelyn MacKenzie, who I mentioned earlier, who sang backup on this track, is a wellspring of support and always willing to let me bend her ear. She has played my songs on her radio show, Self Love Sunday, broadcast through Righteous Babe Radio. Thank you, Righteous Babe! Gwendolyn Fitz hosts me on her YouTube channel generously. I’ve also got an amazing music video coming out soon for a track I created with LA-based producer/sound designer Jonah Wei-Haas, who’s a long-time friend and collaborator. The video is directed by Holle Singer and shot by Shane Sigler. They were such joys to collaborate with and I felt so included and supported in the process. Sonya Farrell took amazing stills and Ginger Leigh Ryan executed the hair and makeup looks. You’ll see all that soon. Then there’s every person who ever dropped a dollar into my hat, took the time to listen to my music or come out to my shows. Thank you, everyone!


Tell us your opinion on categorizing songs into genres.
Anything that helps folks understand the message of the song is ‘A-OK’ with me.


Tell us if you are interested in collaborating with other musical artists.
I love to collaborate. I am open to collaborations of all kinds including songwriters, producers, photographers, videographers, makeup artists, stylists, graphic designers, visual artists, illustrators, community organizers, event planners, brands, non-profits, journalists, authors, and most things interesting and real.


Elaborate on the song.
When all the things I feel /seem to be wrong /I make myself numb/ and live for pleasure. That pretty much sums it up. Spoiler alert – feelings are valid. The song just seemed too complex if I elaborated further to say: When all the things I feel/Seem to be wrong/surprise – meditation, therapy, and a rich spiritual life full of connection and friendship is a loophole to get out of this cycle of numbing and pleasure. That’s a song for another day. That might be the song I’ll be writing my whole life.


Elaborate on your artist’s name and the title of the album.
Well, my name is Syd Caldera. Caldera is not my birth name. It’s a word I chose for its imagery. A caldera is a volcanic lake formed by its own natural forces breaking itself apart, causing it to cave in. The steam settles into a lake. Like so many things in nature, when something breaks down, often a new beautiful, rich ecosystem is created. This has also been my experience as a human. Keep an eye out for this imagery on a T-shirt soon. Sign up for my newsletter on my website, and you won’t miss it!


Share your press release and review with us.
Recently, MangoWave Reviews wrote this about the album:
” Now, what does Cowboy Alt-Rock mean? I would describe the style on Syd Caldera’s “What Feels Good” as a sensual mix of Alt-Country harmony, late-90s Alternative Rock melancholy, and Indie Folk light-footedness. Mostly acoustically and always smoothly, Syd Caldera conjures colorful soundscapes that spread a comfortable and pleasant air. “What Feels Good” is a perfect EP for the day’s last glass of red wine on a comfy couch in a room with lights turned low. Alternatively, the four-track release also fits a campfire ideally. “



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