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Phone interview recorded March 19, 2011

R&B hitmaker Sybil doesn't just vocalize. She also writes songs, manages artists, and teaches at-risk youth. Although she's topped charts worldwide with "Don't Make Me Over," "Walk on By," and "When I'm Good and Ready," the New Jersey native strives to achieve much more than commercial success. Artistic depth -- and reaching others in need -- are at the forefront of her musical mission. She speaks with Justin Kantor about her views and accomplishments so far; and her new single, "Troubled Waters."

Justin Kantor: Hi, this is Justin Kantor of I’m blessed today to be speaking with a soulful lady of song who’s graced us with countless feel-good recordings the last few decades, from her timeless interpretations of classics such as “The Love I Lost” and “Don’t Make Me Over,” to her own inspiring compositions such as “Shining Star” and “Still A Thrill." These days, in addition to working with Ultra Nate’s groundbreaking Dancefloor label Deep Sugar Music, she’s also running her own management company and working in the field of education. Basically, she’s distinguished enough in her own work that she only need go by one name. I’m talking about Sybil. Welcome!

Sybil: Thanks, Justin.

JK: You’re welcome. It’s really fun to be speaking with you. We met once in person a few years ago when you first started with Deep Sugar and did the song I was talking about, “Shining Star." But in the throes of a hot and heavy nightclub, it’s kind of hard to have intimate conversations.

S: It really is difficult!

JK: So to quote one of your songs, "Take Me Back" to when you were growing up in Paterson, New Jersey. What would you say was your parents’ role in shaping your identity? Tell me about your own personality and talents that emerged as Little Sybil, if you will.

S: That’s funny. I grew up singing in St. Luke's Baptist church in Paterson, and came from an area where there was a lot of music. If it wasn’t music, it was sports. I didn’t really start singing and finding my voice until I was about 13. I’ve always sung, but I was not really that comfortable and confident to do it in public. It wasn't until high school that I started singing. And actually, my principal became the Singing Nun. She was real instrumental in me even being really old enough to step out. I grew up singing and doing some of the things that I guess most singers nowadays say that they do, and that is grow up singing in the choir. I sang in the choir and I went to musical theatre: I did Guys and Dolls, Oliver! and Porgy and Bess. Then I did an off-Broadway show called The Blacker the Berry. So this was where I kind of got interested in music, in terms of this performance route. And let me say, my mom sang. My cousin, Maxine, is a member of the group En Vogue, and so I grew up with that kind of thing in the forefront. My uncles were deacons and they sang so it was inevitable that at some point I would be doing it.

JK: "Doin' It Now," yeah! Did Maxine grow up with you in the New Jersey area, or was she in a different area of the country?

S: No, she grew up in Paterson. She stayed until probably her freshman year in high school, and ended up moving to Oakland, California.

JK: So did you guys ever perform together as kids?

S: Well, we used to cut up—I wouldn’t call it performing. But all of my mom’s family sang, because not only does Maxine sing but her brother, Dougie—we come from that background. So I think the thing is that music has always been an integral part of what we do and who we are, and it’s a form of expression. I love the written word, as you know because we’ve talked about that. I think that it’s just important. Words come alive, especially when they’re put to music. They can dance on the page, but when you add them to a rhythm and create a really whole rhyme, I think that’s kind of neat. That’s why I love music and that’s why I love words.

JK: I was going to say something that we’ll get to later, but I can really see you’re constantly evolving as a lyricist with the new single you have, “Troubled Waters”, which is very poetic. I think that’s one that you wrote. You mentioned the theatre, and that was actually leading to what I was going to ask next: I think you studied speech and theatre, which go with the two things we’re talking about. When you did that in college, were you thinking in the back of your mind: okay, "recording artist time"? Or what were your thoughts on how you wanted your career to develop at that point?

S: Well, the thing is, I didn’t even think about a career—that was not even on the radar for me at all. I just wasn’t interested in making music a career. I think that when I graduated, my intentions were to go to Columbia, to law school. I wanted to work for the Federal Communications—I was very clear—I wanted to work for the FCC because I wanted women - and minorities- to be more adequately represented from a communications standpoint so I thought I needed to be in on that level. But music and the creative process was just always something that I was interested in, and so I ended up coming home and working with CeCe Rogers and his band.

JK: Is that CeCe & Company?

S: Yes, CeCe & Company. He and I are still tight to this day. That’s like my brother. I thank him for just being there. I’ve had some really wonderful musicians that I’ve been surrounded by. I’ve done work with the great drummer Lenny White; gosh, I’ve worked with Cliff Branch and Michal Urbaniak, who’s a Polish violinist—just really countless different types of people. Tom Browne. And then of course I’ve got some of the hip-hop with Salt-N-Pepa. I’ve been really fortunate. to fuse together, I guess, a discography. I think that that’s kind of neat, and I like the fact that I’m not pigeonholed into one specific genre.

JK: So was CeCe instrumental in making you think, “Maybe I want to do this recording and performing thing”?

S: Well, the thing with CeCe is, he was like big brother. I think the reason why CeCe was really integral around the road is because he was very protective of me. I think he had been exposed to some of the pitfalls and some of the stuff that can happen when you are a woman in the music business, and so there were some areas that I never had to worry about. I’ve never gotten consumed or got caught up in drugs. And it stayed that way. I don’t get caught up in nonsense. I understand that stuff happens and people can get caught up and consumed; however, I know that I can eliminate it from my environment, and that’s something that we’ve always worked very hard to do—to create an environment of safety and creativity where we can be creative without being stifled by other stuff.

JK: So he provided a foundation. Where did you guys perform?

S: Our main spot was Club 88 in East Orange , New Jersey. We were there all the time. DJ Billy Prest from Zanzibar and Club 88, was really involved with pushing us beyond Club 88. We had a lot of great people who were there for us and understood what it is that we were trying to do. I never thought in a million years that the records I was creating would be considered dance. Because when you listen to my first record, “Falling in Love," it is really an R&B tune that happened to do well in the club scene. And that, I think, had a lot to do with the late Larry Levan from the Paradise Garage. Larry used to spin that record for 45 minutes. I used to hang out as a kid there. I remember going there after I had made the record, and he would leave it on, seriously, for 45 minutes!

JK: Wow, that’s quite a compliment.

S: Yeah. He would play it over and over. When you think of that and the support that I had from the clubs around New York, and the markets like Chicago and Detroit, it’s amazing to me.

JK: So was CeCe & Company a full rhythm section with vocalists and everything?

S: Yes, and I was actually the back-up. I was the first woman that they had. Then his sister, Sonia, came on board, so it was great. But CeCe was the vocalist, and I was the first female vocalist, and that was because Billy [Prest] said, “Look, you need to get a girl on here.” And I remember, I was sitting there one night and he’d come around, he was teasing, and he said, “We’re going to see who can sing out here.” I was with a girlfriend of mine, Sharon, who ended up working with me. He immediately came over to her, because Sharon was a big... she might have been a church singer—big girl, big voice—that’s what he thought. So when he came over to her, she said, “She’s the one who sings.” I said, “Uh-uh, I don’t sing.” And even though I had, I wasn’t that comfortable.

JK: You were self-conscious about it.

S: Yeah. And so what happened is, Billy came over and he put the mic in our face. And I looked at him, he looked at me and it was like, “What? I’m not singing.” So, he said, “You must not be able to sing.” I looked at him like he had three heads—I was like, “Okay, whatever.” I wouldn’t kowtow, I wouldn’t give in then, so then they came back around and did another song and he put that mic right in my face the third time—and that’s when it was like… they might have been doing a Luther song, or it might have been Alexander O’Neal. I don’t know what it was but I ended up just knowing it well enough to sing. I just kind of did a lick and he said, “Look, CeCe, you make sure you get her number, she needs to be here next week.” The following week, I went and practiced with the band.

JK: That’s a really nice way to start out. How did you end up obtaining your first record deal with Next Plateau Records, then?

S: Well, my first record, of course, was “Falling in Love”, and how that came about… we ended up doing “Falling in Love” because James Bratton and Delores Drewry and Ron Wilmore, they had written the track. They had been shopping it around and the record companies were saying, “Look, you need to get somebody on it—you need a vocalist on this track.” So Mike Cameron (who ended up finding Adeva)—Mike Cameron and I think it was Smack Productions at the time — they ended up kind of tricking me into coming into the studio because I was not interested. For three months I kept putting them off: “I’m not interested.” But they told me that I was going to write for a girl group they were working with, and so that’s how I ended up at the studio. James Bratton looked at me and he said, “Let me hear you sing.” I said, “Why? I’m here to write.” Michael looked at me and said, “The only way we could get you down here was to trick you.” So, that’s how I ended up in the studio with my first record, because I ended up laying the vocal down. They took the same record back with me singing on it, and Eddie O’Loughlin —from Next Plateau Records—loved itand said, “Look, I want to sign the record and I want to sign this girl.” That’s how it happened—it was just as simple as that. It did well in the clubs then we followed with “Let Yourself Go”, which ended up being a really, really big, massive record—not only in the U.S., but it was a number three year-end, followed by a number four year-end record which was “My Love Is Guaranteed” in the dance charts.

JK: Right, right…and that crossed over to R&B somewhat, as well.

S: Yeah, yeah. “Don’t Make Me Over” was actually my fourth or fifth record, but it was the biggest one.

JK: What was that like then, when you did do your first studio sessions for that album, Let Yourself Go? , working with James Bratton and Delores Drewry. What was it like being kind of suddenly in that—was it something easy or was it overwhelming? How did you find that process?

S: Well you know… I had no clue. I had never been in a studio prior to that recording; I just had never experienced that. But I think because I was so open to the idea at that point I thought, “You know what? I’m going to make it work.” One of the things that I found that I was good at, I learned how to be really diligent and consistent because I knew that not being that would cost money. We didn’t have a lot of money to pay background singers. Things had to be paced. I loved being in the studio because I’m quick and I love what I do. I love being in that process and I love to see the results of the work that I created in the lead-up

JK: Do you spend a lot of time outside of the studio preparing, or is it all done once you’re in the studio on studio time?

S: No, most of the songs that I write, the melody’s already established; the hook is established, and we may add some elements after we get there, but pretty much… like with “Troubled Waters”: I had written it four years ago. I was at Ultra’s house in Baltimore, and I had a bunch of tracks and we were writing, and I said, “Ultra, I’ve got this melody.” I just went upstairs on the top floor and into the dungeon and seriously, we opened the microphone up and just sang it straight, and that was it. That’s how “Troubled Waters” came about. I was at home and I said, “This is what I got,” and she said, “I love it.” Ultra Nate said, “Sybil, you made your thing in those lyrics.” And I thought, “I really did, didn’t I?”

JK: That’s interesting, I didn’t know that you had originally collaborated with her on it. I know the name that came up on this release was Matthias Heilbronn. I think he ended up doing a lot of the production. So I thought it was actually a collaboration between you two, but it was something you did with Ultra, initially, then?

S: Actually, we had the track and another producer was on tap to produce the record. It took a year and a half to two years—it was like back and forth and … sometimes things happen for a reason, I’m just a firm believer in that. What ended up being to my benefit was the fact that the other person couldn’t do it, so I went into the studio with Matthias Heilbronn and I’m telling you, it was like pure magic—it didn’t take any time at all. I went in there, and Dave Darlington, who I’ve worked with in the past, he knows how to capture me vocally. We got in there and we got it done. Dave was like, “Syb, you know what? Those nuances that you had years ago? They’re still there.” He said, “It’s more mature.” I liked that, because I was saying maybe I should sing the song pitched up, and Dave was like, "Uh-uh, because this is the adult you."

JK: The seasoned Sybil, right?

S: Yes, exactly—the seasoned Sybil. And that’s one of the things that I think was really cool about “Troubled Waters." It’s actually in a lower register that I normally don’t use except for some of the pop stuff overseas that I did, I recorded higher.

JK: Well, it’s funny because one thing, when you talk about that, that always struck me was “Back Together Again”, which I think you did with Eric Kupper. That one sounded almost like it was sped up to make it more of a pop sound or something—I don’t know if it was; maybe you actually went in and just did it really high, but you know.

S: Well, you know what? I think Eric is awesome, because he and Frankie [Knuckles] work so closely—they’re a team—and so Eric worked on “Troubled Waters” with Frankie. You know the "Director's Cut" mix? That’s them.

JK: I was wondering about that "Gagathon" title, like is that a Lady Gaga reference or what?

S: Look, Frankie will go there—you know that, right? And so what happened is, Frankie has always been a big supporter… his favorite record of mine is “Let Yourself Go”. He’s been emphatic about that for as long as I’ve known Frankie. And so when he got the track he loved it. He said, “I’m going to do this track.” Frankie blessed me and he blessed Matthias, and then Spin came in and did a more gospel-soully version with the Muthafunkaz.

JK: I remember you worked with them on “Don’t Give Up”, right?

S: Yes, exactly, I did “Don’t Give Up” with them on Code Red. So, I think that a lot of what I’m doing lately is ... just kind of exploring: first in the writing process; I’m exploring areas and avenues I probably, if I had still been with the PWL situation, would not have had the opportunity. And quite honestly, this is more of who I am, because if you look back over the earlier years, I was more of a soully-dance kind of girl. I thought I made R&B records that happened to do well in clubs. I tried to make soul records that could cross over, potentially, into pop. But I didn’t want to create pop records. For a couple of years that’s what I was doing, but it was by default, really, because that’s what became my market. And some of the soul DJs around the world were like, “Look, the pop stuff is cute but where’s the Sybil that we loved from Champion Records and Next Plateau? So, I think that now the offerings are there.

JK: What was it like when you started to cross over and become really a big national act, when you had the success with “Don’t Make Me Over” being remixed by Tony King? You were starting to go Top 5 R&B and Top 20 Pop in the U.S.—and then as you mentioned, internationally, you had a lot of big success with that and “Walk On By." Was the fame aspect—was that an adjustment or was it something that you felt like, "Oh, this is me. I can go with this and do this easily”? How did that kind of affect you?

S: I’m so not a limelight kind of person. I don’t mind being in the background; I don’t mind doing those things where the light doesn’t shine on you. However, I do believe that God will allow your light to shine where He wants it to shine, and so I ended up being placed in situations where I felt like my biggest rewards came when I was able to use the gifts that He gave me to be able to make a difference. Because I did “Don’t Make Me Over,” I was able to work to help bring money for HIV/AIDS awareness around the world: for Mardi Gras in England, and Stop the Violence in Schools Day. Because of my voice, I was able to share some of the other things that are important to me, like charities. But, it was an adjustment because I love people — but I’m a private person. My career being the way that it was was good for me, because I don’t know how I'd fare. I think that the music industry can corrupt you if you don’t have a real foundation in the first place. I was talking to a friend of mine about that. When you’ve been exposed to stuff, and you’ve got a family that’s really rooted you and your belief system — when you step away from that, you don’t forget who you are. You shouldn’t, anyway. And I think what has happened is a lot of people get so consumed and caught up with the money.

The difference between me and [others]… this is what Eddie O’Loughlin [of Next Plateau] used to say about me…when I came into the music business, I already had a college degree so I was not just one of your run-of-the-mill newcomers. I could read a contract and decipher it and give it to my lawyer and say, “I don’t want this, this and this. Take it out." So, they were impressed, number one, that I could read a contract and understand what it was saying and then question things that I didn’t understand. But, on top of that, I was a willing participant from a business perspective and from a creative perspective. I realized that I didn’t have to be what other people wanted me to be in order to be accepted. Drugs were not my thing, nor was drinking in public. I’m not saying that I am not a social drinker but I am not going to drink around people who are not my friends. There are some things that I just don’t do and some situations that I will not be in. I can be in the midst of a mess and not be part of the mess. I surround myself with positive people doing positive things in positive ways. Sometimes we make mistakes and get caught up and consumed; we maybe make a poor choice in who we choose to do this and do that: what labels we align ourselves with, what management companies we get with. That happens. However, the fiber — the real core of who you are should still be laid out so that you’re able to process and move on, even though stuff is gonna come that’s not in line with growth or advancement.

JK: Right. And it’s interesting you mentioned the labels, because when I was thinking about it, you’ve kind of had an interesting career path, because you achieved such big success with an independent label. At that time, that was not necessarily the norm. It might be more common now in some instances with the change of things online, but, Next Plateau weren’t distributed by a major like Warner Bros. or Sony back then. You couldn’t necessarily compare it at that time being on another label, but did you think that maybe your path, was it easier or more difficult, or did you have any thoughts on how that went compared to say another artist at that time that might have been signed to a major label having a hit?

S: Well, I think the perception was really off. I loved the independent situation and I’m going to tell you why. When I was at Next Plateau, if they felt that something was hot they would jump on that right away. But when you went to a major, it had to go through this long stream: marketing had to be set up, and this, that and the other. With the independent situation we were able, honestly, to go and do what it is we needed to do. Then, Eddie actually signed Salt-N-Pepa and I to PolyGram. Well, the problem that we had there is that the powers-that-be, they didn’t understand me at all. They didn’t know what to do with me, because it was like: “Okay, she’s an R&B girl in the U.S. but she’s a pop girl around the rest of the world” so that was a major, major problem. But earlier, I had worked with Salt-N-Pepa on their album and saw the potential there. However, I was really quite happy, because in the U.S. I was with PolyGram and I was with PWL in the UK. So I said, okay, the bottom line is this: at least I knew that I was going to create some music that was going to appeal to one of the markets because I didn’t know how to mesh my two worlds together—one label wanted one thing and then the other label wanted something else. It’s difficult. Timing is everything. You can’t wait till the last minute; you’ve got to hit while the irons are hot. That was the one thing that I had a problem with, with them.

JK: Even the album itself—Doin’ It Now especially, more so than the Good ‘n’ Ready version—definitely had a plethora of styles represented on it. I was looking back at the songs and the people involved. You had “You’re the Love of My Life," which is contributed by Eve Nelson and a very solid R&B, ballad-slash-midtempo; and then something like “Guarantee of Love,” which is almost like a high-energy pop-dance number. On the other hand, you’ve got a Michael O’Hara and Denise Rich ballad anthem with “Breathe a Prayer." I could see how that would be hard to put that all together for one product, if you will, when you’re trying to please different demographics or whatever.

S: And what they didn’t get is, we didn’t have to try to please every demographic on one album. We could have done something that would have worked and it would have been good. I loved working with the producers, because the things that I did with Denise and Michael, those were really just pure pop power records. But some things just didn’t work for me.

JK: Now, you did become such a star with PWL, working with Stock and Waterman who, especially when they were Stock Aitken Waterman, were known as, "The Hit Factory.” And you actually covered a very soulful tune, “The Love I Lost," with them; and then you had something more poppy like “Stronger Together." So do you think that association ultimately was helpful to your career, or was it simply a source of frustration?

S: Well, during that time, I think it was very helpful. When we did “The Love I Lost," I remember initially when it came in, the backgrounds were really, really thin. I said, “Look, we need to get some British soul girls in here to do some backgrounds, ’cause I’m not feelin’ it.” It was too, too poppy. I was cool with it to a certain point, but when the backgrounds came back I said, “You're talking about Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes. How in the world do you not bring in some church girls to sing in the background?” So they went back in and laid them down. A gentleman by the name of [unclear in audio] went in and he ended up getting in some of the top session singers in the UK. Juliet Roberts actually was on it. It ended up that some really dynamite singers just came in and made it a lot stronger and that’s why that worked. I was excited because then I thought that they were listening to me. And so, it was a great thing for me at that time, because America was going through—in terms of musically—some transformations that I don’t think were in line with me.

JK: It was shifting more to the hip-hop, you mean?

S: Yes, I did the hip-hop; however, I also still like R&B. I still want R&B; I need R&B to be R&B.

JK: Right. I was thinking, it was interesting to take a song from PWL, “Beyond Your Wildest Dreams," which you had a very pop version of, then you had a very R&B-slash-hip-hop version.

S: That’s right.

JK: On a very different note, then, with what you’re doing now… I guess in the last few years you’ve been in a sort of partnership with Deep Sugar. What is the premise behind Deep Sugar? I know there’s a [club] night involved as well as the label. What is the story behind the company and your involvement with it?

S: The thing is, Ultra Nate and I have been friends for many, many years. If you look at dance artists who’ve had many, many years and many successes, we’d probably rank up there. When she mentioned to me that she wanted to work with me, initially I was going to do projects with Spin. Then she called me up to do Code Red. Well, I did two records with DJ Spin: I did “Don’t Give Up” and then I did the Carole King, “It’s Too Late”, because I actually love Carole King—one of my favourite albums is the Tapestry album. Everyone who knows me knows that I love that album and I love James Taylor but I wanted something different. And so Ultra and I started talking and kind of formed a partnership of sorts: me from an artist/writer’s kind of angle and she wanted to start a label. And I wanted to support my friends with their efforts and I thought it would be nice to be working with a female running her own label—independent label. And so that’s how Deep Sugar came about. It was one location in Baltimore and then I guess it seemed like a really smooth transition into having a [club] night, but also creating some music behind the hype of the night, so to speak. And so that’s when we just decided we were going to make some records, and that’s where it came from. “Shining Star” and then “Can’t Look Back” with Quentin Harris… JK: Okay, I was going to ask you about that, because I remember - I was there— you did the inaugural night of Deep Sugar Paradox, which I think is where it’s still held, if I’m correct. S: Oh, yeah, it is. My thing was what I wanted to do… when you talk about “Can’t Look Back” I’m walking on shaky ground. It’s like I’m dealing with stuff… when I wrote the song I actually didn’t care if they wanted it or not, because I knew that lyrically it was a solid record. And I really almost thought about selling it to someone else…. Quentin Harris is a very talented young man. But I think had the product honestly that I’ve been doing now been placed when there was more money to push, then these records I think people would have been known more...

JK: Well, I know a lot of people that are real enthusiasts of house music and the types that Quentin Harris do, they definitely know that song and it’s something that a lot of people really love. But I just have to ask, because it’s funny, you reminded me of that line “Stronger” from talking about shaky ground and now you’re treading troubled waters—so are you okay?

S: [Laughs] I am absolutely brilliant. Let me say, I am in such an awesome space right now, because even when you listen to “Troubled Waters”, I’m in such a really good space. Spiritually I feel… you know when you get your mojo back? I’ve had some transitions in my life and they’ve been really what looks like, maybe, a setback for some people, I knew that was just my setup—it was just a setup for me. Because I think I heard a minister [from Richmond[ say, “Every setback is a setup for a comeback.”

I think I had to be taken back and taken away from certain things in order to really find who Sybil was, because I got lost. I was married; I’m no longer married. My ex-husband and I, we’re good friends. We realized the thing is that sometimes you get so consumed and so lost and caught up in other people’s stuff that you lose sight of what’s important to you. And I honestly want to be able to be expressive and to be who I am without limitations, and I think that my husband… what we realized is, he’s a country boy and I’m a city girl, and that was difficult. I don think that he ever, ever realized the magnitude of what I’d given up in order to stay here. Because it’s difficult to be a northern girl, a city girl, living in the south and feeling like, “Okay, I want to do this”—but not having someone who understands what it is you’re trying to do.

The blessing on all of it is that I work… I always tell everybody that education has served me well. Because I do have an education I have been able to do some of the other things that mean something to me and hold value, and so I work with outreach populations and I help them to find their voice because that’s important to me. And sometimes the platforms that we’re given may not be a platform where there’s a lot of notoriety and a lot of publicity. But I’m going to say this: I have not, for one minute, been without, because me giving up has not diminished what I am able to do. But at the same time, it gives me the time that I need to be able to make a difference in other people’s lives. And my students think it’s cool because they still play “Don’t Make Me Over”—they play my records here in the south; they play the R&B records, they play the ballad, “Let It Rain”—they love that record. So one of the things that’s important to me is that they’re like, “That’s Miss Sybil. That’s our teacher.” They give me the best that they’ve got because they feel like, “You know what? She could be doing other things but she comes here to hang with us.” That’s what works for me. And people get caught up and so consumed in having to be seen and having to be heard—my voice being heard by that seventeen-year-old who comes from a group home to find her way: to me it makes a difference so I think that that’s important, that we just kind of think of other ways, other things to do to make us happy.

JK: Now you also, I believe, have your own management company, Vintage Management Group. So can you tell me about that and what you’re doing with that?

S: Okay, what was important to me is that one of my best friends, she comes from a legal background. I get approached all the time about management, so we decided [this] was one of the things I wanted to do. I said, “Okay, let’s start with me. I’m the first artist on our management group.” I’ve got Vintage Management and Vintage Management II, which will be the hub and the house for new, up-and-coming talent that we’re going to be bringing out. It’s old-school, new-school coming together—that’s our bottom line. Our mission is to be able to bridge the gap between the old and the new in a style and in a way that’s more positive than anything else. We want to encourage young people and people from all different backgrounds to identify and embrace those things that are integral parts of who they are, that are innately in them. And we don’t want to change that, but we also want you to understand that in order for people to understand you, you’ve got to know who you are when you’re putting it out there. And so that’s been our challenge.

One of the things that I want to do is that we as a group understand the needs of our clients—that we create an environment where they feel safe and where they feel as if we’re going to be people of integrity, period. And so we’re excited about what’s coming down the pipe. And actually, we’re working with Chubb Rock. He actually blessed me with that song I wrote that we’re hoping this summer will be out called “Feeling You”. We’re going to be working with classic flavours, Chubb Rock and his camp and Top of the Rocks Management. We have a partnership of sorts, and we’re going to be working together collaborating on a lot of different things. So I’m excited about that….

JK: Is there any chance that we’ll be hearing another full-length Sybil album anytime in the near future?

S: Yes. I had a meeting the other day. And initially we thought EP, and the lawyer said “No, we’re going to do a full-on album.” And I said okay.

JK: Are you doing this with Deep Sugar or is this a separate entity?

S: No, no, no, I’ve given Deep Sugar the last record, let me say that.

JK: Oh, okay—to fulfill your obligations.

S: Yeah.

JK: So do you have any thoughts of what you would like it to be? Do you want it to be something totally different than what you’ve done before or will it be something old, something new?

S: No, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s different but it’s very Sybil. It’s like “Falling in Love”, “Let Yourself Go”, “My Love Is Guaranteed”, “Don’t Make Me Over”—the early Sybil. So the R&B girl. Look for August for the release of something new. First of all, Justin, let me say that you know I love you to bits. I call you my archivist—you find needles in haystacks…I want to say thank you just for being so supportive and just reaching out and touching base with me because you were part of the renewal for me. It’s like I realized that there are people out there that really appreciate what I do.

I think that you came at a time when it was really good for me, and I appreciate that. I want to say to the people who have continued to send me such wonderful messages that the stuff that I share is just a minute portion of what it is that means anything—what I share is just a small portion. But I share me from an honest place; I give from an honest place. I love honestly, I create music honestly. And it may not be everyone’s flavour but it’s honest, and that to me means everything. And so I just want to say thanks to everyone for embracing those things that they love about Sybil, and I don’t take it for granted, and I appreciate it and I just pray God’s blessings and peace on everyone.

About the Writer
Justin Kantor is a freelance music journalist with published works in Wax Poetics and the All-Music Guide. A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Business and Management program, he regularly writes liner notes for reissue labels.
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