During University in London I spent best part of first year’s student loan on a bass guitar and amp, microphone, a 4-track digital recorder, and other gadgets that I used to record my first attempts at solo songwriting. I discovered Reason 2.0 on my roommate’s laptop and hijacked it for the next 3 years, obsessively learning how to compose music on the DAW platform. During the next 3 years in Uni, I performed at open mic nights, singing my own tentative attempts at original songs. These were my first solo performances and where I really cut my teeth gaining confidence and performing my own material in public.
In my second year of University I visited my older brother Yugy in Philadelphia where he was then living, discovering that he had quite the music production set-up! It seemed like we’d both been making in-roads in music without really knowing about each other’s activities! I spent that week or so learning more from him about music production and recording demos in his home-studio. It was a week in my life that I will never forget, and the beginning of something wonderful between us - it was the beginning of SYBS. I’ll start at the beginning.
Yugy is 4 years older than me, which really isn’t that big a gap, but when we were kids it seemed like a lot. We lived in Nigeria for the first 10 years of my life, he’s the oldest and male, I’m the youngest and female (with our brother Okey in between), and our social circles were quite different. In primary school we spent a lot of time together, taking swimming lessons, tennis lessons, piano lessons during weekends and holidays. My brothers graduated from primary school to attend different boarding schools while I stayed at home in Lagos. So really from the age of about 8 I really didn’t see much of them, plus we had our separate friends and interests. We were all independent in a good way, and we were so fortunate to have the amazing childhoods that we did. I look back on those years so fondly. But we just didn’t hang out much growing up, or have the kind ‘best friend’ relationship that I suppose many siblings do at a young age.
When I finished primary school, our parents enrolled the 3 of us in a boarding school in the UK, and our lives changed even more from that point. There was so much to learn, so many ways to evolve, so much to experience as young travelers! Naturally, as I entered my teens and Yugy reached the end of his, we spent even less time together, and I reckon I started to see Yugy more as a father-figure than an older brother, someone I respected and loved, but was kind of in awe of. Yugy was well on his way to pursuing basketball dreams and it wasn’t long before he made his way to the USA. He ended up settling in America, and then had a basketball career in Spain and Israel, while I remained settled in London.
We’ve always loved each other, and in the times when we would all be together, familial similarities and bonds were obvious, but in many ways you could say we weren’t ‘close’. We lived separate lives thousands of miles apart for the most, so it wasn’t a big deal to us. Sometimes, though, I really wished that I had worried less about my older brother’s approval growing up, because in many ways it was an obstacle to closeness.
In our adult lives however, our mutual interest in music was the start of a new relationship with my brother, and it’s kind of funny that a professional relationship actually made our personal relationship closer. You see, when you work with someone in music or any type of business venture, you learn so much about him or her. You realize their work ethic, their passions, their mental process, their strengths and their weaknesses. Making music with my brother, battling project deadlines with him, brainstorming strategies with him, all gave me the kind of insight into his character and personality that I’d never had before. I could see his humanity, I could identify with it. In my eyes, he became less of the imposing father figure and more of a partner, more of a brother. In many ways, for us music was the great leveler where we’d always been separated by age, status, responsibility, and physical distance. If there’s one thing collaborating on music did, it at least forced us to email, Skype, Facetime, and generally talk more!
So when it came to embarking on our current musical journey and Yugy hit upon the name SYBS, I loved it instantly! What’s in the name? Well SYBS is a play on the word siblings. How apt then, that we give that title to our music, being the thing has made us closer than we’ve ever been!