Sykamore can sense a Liz Rose-penned song from 2,070 miles away.
“She just has this signature when it comes to her songwriting,” the aspiring artist, hailing from Canada, gushes over the Nashville writer that she fell in love with as a teen listening to Taylor Swift songs. “She’s really great when it comes to tapping into real emotion and making a song relatable, where a listener is basically saying to themselves, ‘I always felt that, but I have never been able to put it into words.’ It’s as if she can look right through you.”
And it was this feeling that the singer/songwriter found herself silently grappling with not too long ago, as she sat on the edge of her seat waiting for the almighty Rose to enter the co-writing room with her and longtime friend and vocal producer Bobby Campbell.
“I didn’t want to write a song with Liz Rose about how I’m strong and I can handle anything,” she tells American Songwriter with a slight laugh. “I wanted to write something vulnerable with her.”
And so, the three of them did.
“I brought the title to the room,” remembers Sykamore of her current release “Go Easy on Me.” “We wanted to come from that point of view where you have just gone through a breakup, but you are still not ready for the reality of it all to set in.”
Indeed, it is this foundation that carries the so-relatable song, twisting and turning through the complex emotions of a breakup with ease while still recognizing the state of utter weakness it often leaves one within. It speaks the truth and gives a renewed light on the idea that while women can be strong, they can also feel every inch of their hearts breaking.
“Go Easy on Me” also has a distinct seventies, singer/songwriter type of sound, a sound that the 30-year-old has increasingly comforted herself within in recent years. Born on a farm ‘in the middle of nowhere’ in the same house her dad was raised in and his dad was raised in, Sykamore says that the first music she ever remembered hearing was country music.
“My parents met on the rodeo circuit,” explains the country artist on the pop fringe. “That rural, farm life, small town, emotionally rich stuff that country songs are made of and all of those cliches that they come with, I lived them all.”
As a teen, the aspiring artist spent hours in the living room of the house her great-grandfather built, playing the family’s piano and trying to put a melody to the swirl of emotions floating through her teenage head.
“It was at that piano that I began to peek behind the curtain as to what it takes to write a song,” she remembers. “The first songs I ever wrote were probably about boys. (Laughs.) I’ve always been pretty emotional and romantic as a person, and many of those songs back then were about unrequited feelings. I was too shy to tell anyone my feelings, so I would write it in a song.”
Come college, Sykamore found her people, an assorted group of musicians with big dreams and a drive to remind her that they saw something in her. And soon, her confidence began growing. In 2016, Sykamore and her insane vocal talents for which she used Twitter and YouTube to showcase, were discovered by none other than Rhett Akins. And in short order, she signed a publishing deal, a record deal and made Nashville her home.
And then? Well, she ended up writing in a room with Liz Rose.
“We bonded over our love for raw, ugly emotions and we bonded over our love for seventies music, and we took those two things as our muse,” says Sykamore of the creative process that ultimately created “Go Easy on Me.” “I love Carly Simon and Fleetwood Mac and artists like that where the production isn’t too much. You have room to breathe and room to feel things.”
And it’s this songwriting strategy Sykamore plans to take with her on this creative journey she finds herself currently on, a creative journey which seems to point to an old soul who will never be afraid of being vulnerable within her songwriting.
“This trend of female artists singing songs about how they ‘don’t need no man’ and ‘I can fix everything on my own,’ I mean, there is a time and place for songs like that,” concludes Sykamore, whose recent EP California King has amassed over one million on-demand audio streams since its release. “But I like hearing someone sing right to me about a real feeling that I can relate to. The emotion might be unhealthy or ugly or not paint one in the most flattering light, but sometimes, that’s our reality. And it’s time we sing about it again.”
Photo by Robby Klein