Last year, former 'N Sync vocalist and ABDC judge JC Chasez embarked on a new journey as a musical dad by forming the first supermassive American girl band, Girl Radical. One of those 11 handpicked members is our very own SDSU alum Sydney Yien, now known as Sydney Radical.
The petite Cuban-Chinese singer sort of resembles vocalists Jhene Aiko and Ashanti, but sounds completely different. When you hear her voice, you'll be smitten by the powerful vocal range that employs nuances of jazz and R&B soul. Greatly inspired by the late Whitney Houston, the young singer has been earning her stripes with some music great, including a stint opening for Jodeci on their European tour. Locally, you may have seen her as the Afrojazziacs' frontwoman. At this year's S.D. Latino Film Festival, she brought down the house with an incredible rendition of Bruno Mars' "Locked out of Heaven." On April 4, Girl Radical released its debut acoustic single, "Don't Get Me Wrong," which MTV Buzzworthy praised as "life-affirming."
On the solo front, Yien is finishing production on an EP. Get to know the R&B stunna Sydney Yien:
Dita Quinones: You do an incredible job at making cover songs all your own. I hear you're working on originals. What will it sound like?
Sydney Yien: My upcoming summer EP will fuse pop, funk and R&B. I've been working on new songs. I can't wait for y'all to hear them!
DQ: How do you feel about working in JC Chasez's all-girl group with 11 members?
SY: At first, I was a bit apprehensive about there being so many members of the supergroup, but once I did my research and came across K-Pop [Korean pop music], I realized the massive impact a girl-group this size could make. Supergroups are killin' it overseas, and we hope to bring that excitement here. Plus, I really love the G-Rad team. Working with all the girls and our producers JC Chasez and Jimmy Harry has been nothing short of an amazing and fulfilling experience. It's just enough radicals for an army of girl power!
DQ: Where were you born and raised?
SY: I was born and raised in Northern California. I lived all over the Bay Area until I went to college at SDSU. I definitely consider S.D. my second home – it's amazing here.
DQ: What nationality are your parents?
SY: My lovely mom, Elizabeth, was born in Havana, Cuba. My dad, Frank, is Chinese-American, from New Brunswick, NJ. I love them!
DQ: How did you get so musically talented?
SY: Growing up, my parents had a band together. Both my mom and dad sang while she played saxophone and he switched between the bass guitar and piano. During the holiday season, my dad would make holiday albums -- they were totally '90s and totally awesome! I also sang in church with my older sister and absolutely loved performing in school talent shows.
DQ: What was it like opening up for Jodeci?!
SY: After my first year in college, I took a year off to tour Europe opening up for them. By singing nearly everyday and especially with Mr. Dalvin, I learned a whole lot more about R&B. That experience really helped me find my sound.
DQ: Do you speak Spanish?
SY: Yes, I do. I'm nearly fluent -- almost there [laughs]. I usually speak Spanish with my mother's side of the family. And I love singing in Spanish, too.
DQ: As a Latina living in a border town, what do you love most about living here?
SY: I love being in such a diverse Latino town for so many reasons. A big one is: music. Second: diverse culture. Third: the food – the marisco food trucks here are to die for.
DQ: What's the TV show you will be featured on?
SY: We aren't allowed to say just yet, but it will be with my girl group!
DQ: OMG, that's going to be reality-TV gold!
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.