SiR opens up about recording ‘Chasing Summer,’ TDE being a family, his desired legacy and more
Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith and President Terrence “Punch” Henderson are joining the REVOLT Summit in L.A. as co-chairs. What better way to celebrate than to speak to one of their talented signees SiR? Read here.
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SiR’s highly anticipated project Chasing Summer arrived at the end of August — just in the knick of time. As Los Angeles transitions from warm, sunny days to cooler, cuddle weather in the fall, the Inglewood native — whose real name is Sir Darryl Farris — delivered one of the most electrifying, emotional, relatable R&B projects of the year.
If you’re a fan of “Cadillac Dreams” featuring Big K.R.I.T., you’re a fan of SiR. Not only is the record captivating sonically, but its feelings and sensations that stem from love are so honest and relatable. At the time of the song’s release, the R&B singer-songwriter was much more mysterious, as he wasn’t really unveiling to the public eye much of himself as a person.
The reality is that SiR could give a fuck less about this music industry. He describes himself as a “young musician who really cares about this. I’m not just here to be a ‘famous’ artist. I just want to do music.”
At the core, it’s his true, undying love for musicality that allows him to create such powerful, instantly gratifying records — with a unique sound that keeps fans coming back and wanting more. While it may seem like signing to TDE was somewhat new, they’ve actually kept it under wraps since 2016 when “Cadillac Dreams” first took the R&B game by storm. He explains, “It was the best kept secret because we wanted people to hear and enjoy the music.”
This translated completely into his third studio album, which was Chasing Summer, a 14-track project hailing lead single “Hair Down” featuring label-mate Kendrick Lamar. Other features include the legendary Jill Scott, Lil Wayne, Smino, Zacari, and Sabrina Claudio — all artists he respects both musically and personally.
REVOLT caught up with SiR to discuss the process of preparing the album, flying to Tennessee to record with Jill Scott, the dynamics of the TDE family, and his legacy. Read here!
Your wife is someone who got you to transition from producing to recording. Can you bring us back to those days?
Aw man, I just remember us being broke as hell. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for school. I was already kind of working on music, but wasn’t really taking it seriously — but had a passion for it. She pushed me to really pursue it. She was working a job at the time providing for us, while I went back to school.
What’d you go to school for?
Recording engineering, I went to film school. After I graduated, I started working and trying to save up as much money as I could to get back on our feet. That turned into me working for Tyrese for a couple of years. After that, I ended up putting out my first project in 2015, Seven Sundays.
I just remember ‘Cadillac Dreams’ being such a smash.
Whew, I love that song. That was a good time. I was already signed to TDE, but nobody knew me. It’s been that long. It was the best kept secret because we wanted people to hear and enjoy the music before we told them we were pushing TDE. It worked very well. HER worked, dropped HER TOO and made the announcement. Then, we dropped November. We timed everything right. Back then, I’m like, ‘Man I want to be known. I want people to know I’m signed to TDE!’ In hindsight, I’m glad we did what we did. It worked out perfectly.
You were super low key when ‘Cadillac Dreams’ came out. How have you been adjusting to the limelight?
It’s tough. I’ve been doing OK. Just staying grounded, and keeping my friends and family around me — people I trust. I don’t step outside my circle too much. I try to be as positive as possible. I keep my respect high. I stay praying, stay focused on what’s good for me. Stay off the internet for sure. Too much going on in the DMs right now, it’s crazy. Out of hand.
Congrats on Chasing Summer! How has the fan reception been?
It’s been wonderful. We definitely set expectations and worked really hard. It’s surprising how many new fans we’ve grown, we weren’t expecting this much. It’s so well-received. Everybody said the same thing: Not one song in particular, it’s the whole album. That’s the best compliment I could ever receive.
Bring us back to when you made ‘Hair Down.’
I made that on tour actually. I wrote that on the back of the tour bus on ‘The Championship Tour.’ A lot of that stuff was on the road. ‘You Can’t Save Me,’ I wrote that on the Miguel tour. I love that song. It’s sad, but it’s a good one.
What were you going through on ‘You Can’t Save Me’?
Same thing a lot of people go through when they want to have their cake and eat it, too. You can’t always get what you want. Sometimes, the reasoning is out of your control. That song has two sides: Me saying you can’t have everything you want, but also me saying I don’t give a fuck. It’s a cool take on my approach to that situation. Definitely affected me for a while — enough to write that song. ‘You Can’t Save Me’ is very personal like most of these records. This is the most honest I’ve been my whole life, and it feels good people understand and receive it.
Going back to ‘Hair Down,’ how did Kendrick hop on it?
We had that song for six to eight months, just sitting there waiting. When we were wrapping up the album, my manager Edgar asked me who I wanted on ‘Hair Down’ as a feature. Who else was I gonna ask? I hadn’t asked anybody for anything. I’m like, ‘Man, I’m not gonna mess up and ask for something less than the best.’ I shot for the moon and my prayers got answered. I remember walking into his session when he was cutting the vocals, just smiling from ear to ear.
I’m not really a Kendrick Lamar fan. I’m a fan of music and black music. Everything I’ve seen him do over the last 10 years has been amazing to watch. To come from where he comes from and coming from where I come from, knowing the circumstances surrounding our upbringing, it’s beautiful to be a part of his journey. To let him be a part of mine is a blessing. Definitely was in there like a 6-year-old kid smiling.
Loved seeing Smino at your release party, talk about making ‘LA Lisa’?
Man, Smino was supposed to pull up to the Buddy party [at The Fonda], I performed ‘LA Lisa’ and he wasn’t even there. He said he overslept, showed up late and performed two songs by himself. I was mad, I could’ve just performed ‘You Can’t Save Me.’ I love Smi, such a talented young man. His work ethic is unmatched, and he’s a fashion icon. This kid’s an adventurous cat, I got nothing but respect for him and his craft.
Me asking him for his verse was easy and difficult all at the same time. I didn’t want to reach out and he say no. That’s always the worst thing for musicians. I had to learn the hard way. You HAVE to reach out. You have to deal with rejection. No matter who you think you are, people might not fuck with you. You have to be willing to accept rejection to get the answer you want. I asked, I took the risk.
How did the concept come about?
I was at a friend’s funeral. I hadn’t seen my good friend LA Lisa in a long time. Me, her and my wife stopped to talk about something crazy that happened between some dude they both used to date. In high school, we were super close. Me being from Inglewood and seeing most of my peers either end up in jail or not able to leave the city — a lot of people don’t go out and travel. I thought about what I wanted for people growing up. [I] used LA Lisa as a muse to represent us and where we’re from. It worked out perfectly, a beautiful ode to our neighborhood. I put some real specific lines in that song. LA Lisa loves it, I called and asked her. She fucks with the song.
Talk about linking with the GOAT Lil Wayne (‘Lucy’s Love’). He killed every bar.
Exactly, he murders it. Just lucky man, I was in the right place at the right time. I’m thankful to have people who respect me enough to look out for me. Shout out to Lil Wayne. That was special.
Loved seeing Zacari on the project too (‘Mood’). Talk about being a part of the TDE family and how talented everyone is.
It’s interesting because we’re so diverse. We’re deep now, not just 4 anymore. It’s 9 of us damn near. It’s special… We hold each other in high regard, got nothing but respect for each other. I super fuck with Reason, his next projects are crazy. He played me this shit called ‘Artist.’ Super fucking hard.
I like that you can’t take one of us and compare them to the next. We’re all different, all our own thing. It gives you a chance to see the diversity in not only California music, but music around the country. Zacari is surprising me, every day [he] plays me some crazy shit. He’s a recording machine, probably has 1,000 records ready to go. I’m excited for the future and what we all have in store. We’re blessed and definitely love each other, [we] care about each other to succeed.
You mention Reason, who has a big personality, as does the rest of TDE. How much do y’all clown and play?
Whenever we get together, it’s always fun. Everyone’s relationship is different, so we all don’t joke and clown like that. We all cool, but certain dudes you don’t joke with. I’m not gonna crack jokes at Jay Rock — I don’t think anybody gonna crack jokes at Jay Rock. You gotta pay respect to your OGs and let your OGs have theirs. I still feel weird around Q because I know as soon as I see him, he’s gonna crack a joke. I almost feel [like] I’m on guard. But, he’s still Q, so I love him. One of the coolest cats I’ve ever met. Chill, down-to-earth, always has good advice, but will still clown you if your outfit looks bad. It’s family first. When shit hits the fan, we ain’t gotta worry about anything. We know who has our backs.
What are the fondest memories you can remember creating the album?
I mixed this whole album, that’s all I remember. Had a whole bunch of friends/musicians play on the records, that was the most fun I had. Recording to me is a tedious process. So, I have to sit down and mentally prepare myself. When we’re doing the mixes, I’m smoking. I’m chillin’. I mean heavy smoking! I can’t smoke and record like that. I’m getting older, I can’t smoke and do much (chuckles).
We’d be in the studio sessions. I’m sitting in front of Pro Tools letting these guys bless the album. It’s a one-of-a-kind album because of them. Beats and songs are one thing, but the motion and emotion they created around what I did really helps carry the album. Then, getting the features and working with Zac is always funny. Zac is a crazy dude. We always have fun. I’ve been making this album over the last three years. I’m just glad it’s out.
Were you and Zac in your bag when you recorded ‘Mood’?
Nah, he sent that to me. I was downstairs at Interscope, he was upstairs at Interscope. He sent it down, I recorded it and sent it back up to him. He texted me ‘come upstairs.’ I came upstairs, we played it, banged our heads for two hours. What really makes ‘Mood’ special [is] at the last minute, we were trying to get the sample cleared. Basically they said no. They said yes, but tried to charge an arm and a leg. They wanted everything. ‘Yeah you can use it. We’ll take 40% and 12 points off the album — and ya mama’s purse. We’ll take it all, kitchen sink, give it to us.’
We went and got it re-played by a friend of mine, Kelvin Wooten. He blessed us. It changed the whole dynamic of the record, gave me a lot more flexibility to get in and make some moves to give it more feel. Edgar said it was his favorite before, but after I changed it, it was definitely top tier. He’s really picky, he likes ‘Despacito’ and things like that. Definitely a special record. I can’t wait to tour that.
Reason said every artist has to sit down with Top Dawg to play their whole projects from top to bottom. What was that process like for you?
Man, we sat down damn near a year ago. It was smooth. We’ve been listening to the same playlist for a while, but took our time to get the plan together. Not just a quick drop, we needed it to be an explosion. Create waves and keep going. We definitely planned the hell out of this. Top’s biggest concern is always the quality of the message and what point you’re trying to get across overall. With the body of work we put out, we knew a while ago it was special.
That was the most fun I had with Top, him cracking jokes. He’s trying to give advice on what things should look like, where things should go. It was quick, a handshake and a green light. It was beautiful. So many artists in TDE are making music at the same time, it’s hard to get that meeting. Thank God we were ready because if it was a no, you’d probably see me in 2021.
Talk about enlisting Jill Scott on ‘Still Blue.’
She got me! I reached out early because I knew I wanted her to be part of the album. That’s a good friend of mine, I’m blessed to know her. When she said yes, I’m like, ‘Edgar, book the flight!’ She’s at her house in Tennessee somewhere. Flew out there, spent two days at her house. Went to the studio, booked an eight-hour session. Sat there listened to the song for six hours. At the end, she started recording.
It took six hours?
She writes with pen and pad, and she’s Jill Scott. She takes her damn time. She had tons of questions — was writing on thoughts. She’d get in the booth and do things, [and] come out. The last two hours was crunch time. In my head, I’m like, ‘We can stay as long as you want!’ We got really tight. It’s crazy to see her process, almost like she was done an hour in, but she wanted to fine-tune it for seven.
I was floored, but I played it cool. My soul was at my toes. I was totally blown away. Immense amount of respect for her process because it changed the way I write songs. She’d have three notebooks recording one song. Her process is true to her. I was always on the computer and I’d get bored so quick. I started with a pen and pad, it’s a different thing to actually write. I try to write with pen because it helps you commit to the thought. You don’t want to write any bullshit down.
Your parents got back together after years of divorce and your music touches a lot on love. How have they reacted to the project?
They both love it very much. They’re definitely a great example of what I pictured as a solid relationship growing up. They took care of us, raised us, made sure we were respectful, made sure we’re street smart. Made sure we stayed in school and focused, made sure we’re grounded. Those things helped shape me as a man and musician.
‘LA’ is the perfect closing track. What do you want your legacy to be?
Feels like Chasing Summer is the beginning of good legacy. All I ever ask with music and me as a person is that we hold our respect for each other high. When people listen to my music, I want them to respect me as a musician, someone who cared about more than just his look. I care about the actual music, the recording process, who I associate myself with. I care about my fans and family. People aren’t just listening to catchy tunes, they see I’m actually putting myself in these records.