Sevyn Streeter Is Writing Songs On Chris Brown’s New Album ‘X’
Last year, Sevyn Streeter took the scene by storm spawning hits like "It Won't Stop" and "I Like It," but little did anyone know that Sevyn has long been on the scene penning hits for Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland and Alicia Keys. Releasing her solo project, just two years after parting ways with her former girl group Rich Girl, in 2013, Sevyn was going for the kill and this time all on her own. Although charting unknown territory, Sevyn welcomed the pressure. “I feel like it’s all positive pressure, I’m not afraid of anything, it’s just like ‘Alright, welp, here’s your shot,” so man you better work,” Sevyn said of the transition.
With her widely praised EP titled Call Me Crazy, But…, the 27-year-old has found a way to channel all of her emotions, putting them into song and everyone was certainly feeling it. Juggling her solo endeavors while working as a songwriter for Brown's upcoming X album, she's on her way to becoming a major R&B force. During a recent stop at the XXL headquarters, Sevyn spoke about adjusting to being a new solo act, learning from the artists she's worked with, and her songwriting process. She also reveals her dream collaboration, which may be a surprise to some. The hustle continues.—Miranda J.
XXL: How does it feel to finally have your shine after making big records with Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland, Ariana Grande and more?
Sevyn Streeter: I feel like everything just kind of happened how it was supposed to. I didn’t want it to happen sooner, I think timing is everything. I’ve learned over the years to appreciate God’s timing and you can’t rush things, it’s gonna happen exactly when it’s supposed to. To have my music out now, I feel prepared because it happened when it was supposed to. No sooner no later, right on time. So it feels good.
Is there a different kind of pressure being a new solo artist?
Absolutely, I would be lying if I said I didn’t, but I do think there’s such a thing as a good pressure. I feel like it’s all positive pressure, I’m not afraid of anything, it’s just like “Alright, welp, here’s your shot,” so man you better work. So it’s a good pressure and I welcome it and I am excited. I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great moment.
You’ve been in the game for a long time so have you learned from other people and their situations. Like Chris, you guys are really tight and he’s going through a lot of stuff. Have you learned anything from him?
Yeah, I’ve learned so much. I swear I pick up little gems from every artist that I work with. That’s why I’m so appreciative that I’ve been able to be a songwriter first. Just because from working with Alicia, she has this... I don’t want to call it a carefree spirit about music and recording but it comes from a place that it’s just pure and it’s just about what feels good. I mean with Chris, he has a certain kind of freedom with his music and his artistry. He’s so well at expressing himself and he’s honest with himself. I picked up that or from working with Kelly and seeing how she puts together an album. Like little gems from I’ve definitely picked up along the way. I appreciate all of the artists cause they shared a lot of knowledge with me.
Even with the title of your EP, Call Me Crazy, But…, you are giving away a piece of yourself to your fans. Is there any story you could think of that you were like “you can call me crazy but?”
All of it is pretty personal but if I had to pick one little moment today, I would say call me crazy but you acting like a “B.A.N.S.” That definitely touched a little spot for me. The song on the EP is called “B.A.N.S.,” it stands for “Bitch Ass Nigga Shit.” I was really going through that, I just [was] really going through that. He was acting like a “B.A.N.S.," he was on some “B.A.N.S.” stuff and that song hit very close to home for me. I was hurt and going through it.
What happened with your previous groups? I know you came from two groups before and to me it’s never been clear what happened. You've said the solo career happened in due time. Do you feel like you were always going to be a solo artist?
I wish I could tell you that I knew that the story would eventually get to this point, but in life you don’t [know]. When I tell you I loved being in my groups, anybody who knows me, they know that I loved being in my groups. From my first group TG4, I loved being in my groups. I was devastated when we broke up. Just like I didn’t know I was going to be in Rich Girl after TG4, I didn’t know that this phase in my life was going to come after Rich Girl. But I will say that especially Rich Girl—I loved Rich Girl. We had a great four years together. We were signed to RCA, we had a good run. Went on tour with Beyoncé and I loved it but I had no idea. Honestly, I remember towards the end of Rich Girl, I started writing with Chris and after Rich Girl broke up I kinda held on to whatever God gave me. And for me that was songwriting. I love songwriting and to be around music. I started writing songs with Chris, just writing songs with Chris and little bit by little bit, I kid you not that I couldn’t make it up it kind of panned out. God is just amazing the way that he did all of that.
God orders your steps. What would you say is the biggest difference between being in a group and now being a solo artist? Are there any positives?
There are both positives and there are some things that are a little difficult. The positive thing is that for me the certain way that I wanted to dance or songs that I had in my head that I wanted to write or certain things like that, when you’re in a group you have to be very cautious and mindful of the fact that your life is not your own. Your life affects the life of three other people. At least in my case, that’s what it was. I will say that the positive thing about that is I’m able to pull out any kind of idea that I have in my head and it doesn’t have to make sense right away because I’m not responsible for three other lives. I can kind of figure it out and write it down, scratch that out and throw it away. And not feel bad about it cause I’m not responsible for the lives of three other people. But the negative parts about being by yourself is that you miss that camaraderie, I love being in my group we had a great time. On days where you’re tired you always have somebody to pick up your slack. You forget a lyric, you have somebody to pick up the slack. So there are both positives and negatives to being by yourself and being a solo artist. At the end of the day that’s what it is and you become the best version of you that you can be.
I'm also curious to know what your songwriting process is like? You have some records that really connect.
A lot of different things kind of drive songwriting for me. The number one thing I will say are personal experiences. Things that I go through. A lot of time, the process for me when we go in the studio and pull up beats, we’ll go and hum melodies and things like that. Then we’ll go and piece them back together like a puzzle, throw words at each other. That’s how some of the songs are born. Then, sometimes I’ll have concepts and things that I’ll talk about with my friends or with my dancers on the road. I’ll write them down, just from being on the Rebellious Tour with my dancers on the bus, we had so many hilarious conversations and I kid you not we would laugh at the boys and be like, "Oh, I’m going to write a song about y'all.” So I would literally write those concepts down and I can’t wait to get in the studio. To bring those conversations to life, that’s what music is about. Especially R&B music, there are just conversations. How many time have you heard a song and been like, “Oh my God, me and my girlfriend were just talking about that.” Or you heard a song and been like, “Oh, you better preach.” They are just born from conversations.
Organic is the best way. When you’re writing for someone else, do you ask them about their experiences?
I do. That is definitely something I do when writing for people. And it depends, sometimes I’ll have a song and they’ll like it and it will happen like that. When I actually go in to write for people, I like to go “OK where are you in your life? Are you in love? Are you heart broken?” I like to know because the worst thing you want to do is write somebody this happy song and the song doesn't sound so happy. Finding out what they go through is very important cause at the end of the day, you’re just a songwriter. In songwriter mode I’m just a songwriter. And I know from being an artist that the song has to feel truthful to the person. They have to go out there and sell it, convey it to the fans. So it’s very important to find out what they go through.
Is there anybody you’re looking to collab with?
Honestly... and I’ve been saying this a lot lately so hopefully I’m speaking from my mouth to God’s ears but I would love to do a record with Usher and Beyoncé.
Did you do any work on Chris’ upcoming album?
I did, I actually wrote “Fine China.” I wrote the title track, it’s a song called “X”, I also wrote another song called “Counterfeit” and I got my fingers crossed for a couple other songs so songwriter me is hoping that I get another placement.
What about your album? When are you thinking about releasing it?
In my Sevyn world, I would love to do it sometime [this] year but going back to the songwriting, I have to write according to how I feel or stories that I’m around. So if the creative Gods give me the right song then and time for the album to be released, it will be released [this] year. We have to wait and see. It’s a process for me.
I’m excited about picking songs for an album. I really want fans to dive into the EP and let me know what song they want to come next because that’s what the next single will be. Whatever they want, that’s what we’re gonna give them. Do some videos and keep it going.