An Interview With Sydnee Washington v1

Director of Experience, Culture and Community Yasmin Daguilh sits down with comedian, host of Hobby Hunter and co-host of The Unofficial Expert Sydnee Washington to discuss translating humor to audio-only mediums, coping with the sound of your own voice, and more.

Transcript:

(Sydnee)

I don't think you ever get over like how annoying your voice is. Like your voice is annoying to you. Because it's you, you got to love yourself, every part of it, even the annoying parts, even the flaws. What you think is trash, someone else is like that is treasure, and I'm gonna listen to it every Friday on my way to work.

(Yasmin)

I guess you could call me podcast-obsessed. It doesn't matter the subject, I can't get enough of them. And I've definitely built up the illusion that I'm best friends with all the hosts. Today, I'm lucky enough to be talking to one of those hosts who also happens to be my friend in real life. I'm Yasmin Daguilh, Director of Experience, Culture and community at Day One, talking all things audio with comedian and host of Unofficial Expert and Hobby Hunter, Sydnee Washington.

So excited to be welcoming Sydnee, Washington to our little studio today. She is a comedian, a podcast host and all around just an icon. And I I feel like I call you an icon Sydney because you have so much happening and you're dominating every single part of it. But I know that your work sort of started in comedy. And I guess I'm just curious, because comedy is rooted so much in the crowd and body and facial expressions. How have you translated your humor to an audio medium like podcasting? Well, the

(Sydnee)

Well, thegood thing about you know, jokes is, you know, if the joke is good, it's gonna hit. It don't matter if someone can see you or not. If they can hear it and understand it, and you set it up properly, then most likely someone's going to laugh. So I've been doing podcasting for five years now. So I've always been able to make sure I can translate my comedy on both the stage and just podcasts.

(Yasmin)

Amazing. But I guess has your comedy changed at all since you got into podcasting? Are there things that you like us to do on stage that you no longer do on podcast, or things that you only do on stage that you can't do on a podcast?

(Sydnee)

Honey, honey, listen, I feel like whatever you don't want out there, don't say it. Because in the podcast world, once it's out there it's kind of out there for people to interpret any kind of way. Take it out of context, clip it up, edit it, flip it and reverse it. So if you don't want anybody to misconstrued anything, then don't get into podcasting, because people are going to take what you say, and some people might love it, and some people might be offended. But if you're the type that is kind of scary, then this is not your realm. Because literally I get messages about any little thing that I'm like, okay, I thought that was me just being transparent and someone's like, that's TMI. So if you don't want to hear, you don't want to see people's Yelp reviews on the things that you say, then a podcast is not for you, stand up comedy ain't for you. I mean, you might as well just stay in the house and turn off your Wi Fi.

(Yasmin)

That's so funny. Okay, well, I mean, how did you get into podcasting? I know that you said, You've been doing it for about four or five years now. But how did you even get started in this as an art form? And a medium? Did you speak it into existence?

(Sydnee)

Well, first of all, I was with my, you know, now best friend, but also, we were best friends from the start, Marie Faustin. And everybody was like, “oh, you guys should like do something together. You should have a show, a podcast, something something something.” And me and Marie, were like, “Oh, yeah, I'm down with that.” But I don't want to pay, we don't want to pay for equipment. Okay. And lo and behold, you know, our God provides a network, comedy hype hit us up, and they were like, “Hey, we would like to do a podcast with you. And that's how we started it”

(Yasmin)

Okay, she said, speak it into existence. Cindy came on, and she has nothing but free advice for the kids. Um, I love it. I love it. It works. If you don't want to pay for your rent, you know, just keep putting it out there. Just just hear it, just say it.

(Sydnee)

Yeah. And maybe one day, you know, somebody might pay for your rent, or you or you might be homeless and you won't ever have to pay for rent ever again. So.

(Yasmin)

Okay, so you obviously gave us a lot of advice on just what type of personality doesn't do well in podcasting. But what's something that the audience doesn't hear or doesn't know when it comes to this stuff? What's happening behind the scenes that you sort of wish they knew? Is there anything that you feel like is, you know, something that you discovered through doing this that really surprised you?

(Sydnee)

I think that sometimes people hear you and they think they know you and they want things to be set up the way they deem you know, right. But we're humans. And so some things are not going to sound great. Some might be an amazing episode, but you know, somebody was too close to the mic. You have to give people their grace, you know, you have to be understanding that everyone doing this is a human being. So some of your complaints and some of your reviews and some of the things that you put out there, it's like, b*tch, I can see that. I read it. I read it every day. And sometimes, when I'm really feeling toxic and chaotic, I'll screenshot it and keep it. Keep it so that I'm like, remind myself, Oh, don't do this again.

(Yasmin)

I mean, I guess I have to ask because you said screenshot and look back on it, you know, like, what's your sign or your rising sign? Because I feel like once I know that I'm going to know more about you and why you screenshot certain things.

(Sydnee)

I'm an Aquarius. So it's, it's just mainly, I feel like Aquarius are like we're very, very like people, persons and we want to like, please, people. And I think that even though we do well with people, I think we have social anxiety too. So I think that even though I love being out and about with the public and platforms, I still analyze everything. And I'm always so hard on myself. So screenshotting is a good way to remind myself, hey, this was a low point. But you're gonna be better. Don't worry. Sometimes I screenshot my own things that I say like in text messages. Sometimes I read it out loud. Because sometimes you don't know how it sounds until you actually hear it and you're like, oh, wow, I was being a bitch. When I was being very dismissive. You know, you don't know until you see it yourself. So sometimes I always like, look at my emails and text messages and try to see how they could have misinterpreted something that was said or did.

(Yasmin)

I mean, I think that's good advice for everything, you know, screenshot it, write it down, come back to it another time it works for everything. Regardless, as a Leo, you know, we have limited self doubt, but I think it's still good to do that to have those things. Oh, yeah, I guess that's kind of the beauty in that in audio as a medium though, I know this is like me derailing a little bit. But I've seen such a trend in voice notes. And I'm like, super into voice notes. There's something so beautiful about them. Because you know, like your intonation is there all that stuff, it's just captured and sound. Do you use those? Or are you even gravitating to use those more and more?

(Sydnee)

For the record, I am a run on sentence. It's so hard for me to stop. Like, I'll just keep– it's like diarrhea of the mouth. So sometimes when I do voice notes, sure. It will be like, I'll be going on for two minutes. And it's like, okay, girl, let it go. Just stop. And if they have something to say, then you respond to that. Like, you don't need to keep going. I do too much on the voice. I've had people have told me that like, Girl, you could have just text that because I didn't want to hear all.

(Yasmin)

Yeah, it's like basically a voicemail at that point. Yeah, that's funny. So I mean, speaking of different audio stuff outside of just voice notes, which I'm the number one fan of, it is my favorite form of communication. How do you feel about the rise of other different kinds of audio focus media, things like Clubhouse or Discord? Have you been getting more and more popular? Have you been getting into those?

(Sydnee)

I think Clubhouse is awesome, because it reminds me of the chatline days like me growing up, when we were only on our like rotary phones or whatever.

(Yasmin)

Not rotary, but girl, we're not that old. We are not that old.

(Sydnee)

Oh, no, I did. Wait. I did. As a kid, I had a rotary phone. But now we would do our chat lines. And we would talk to random people about linking up or not linking up or whatever. And it was fun and exciting, because you know, people can lie and do whatever they want. And you would have to follow the journey. But now I think on Clubhouse, people are trying to flex too much on there, like, it's not really about getting to know people. It's about taking in information or giving information. It's like everybody knows something. So we're on here to hear what you can offer, like, what is your advice, but the biggest advice that I could give is like you have to do it. You can't listen to someone all day to tell you the things that you should do. Everything is trial and error. So, sometimes we're on Clubhouse and we're listening to people like how do you build your platform? How do you get followers and how do you do this and that and it's just like literally you will have more fun when you just try it out. To be honest.

(Yasmin)

Yeah, that's so true. I feel like especially with the podcast I follow. You know, I feel like you start to follow and you stick to following them because you feel like you know these people, and you want to tune back in to stay, because the host is so engaging, right? And that's what keeps you going back. Even if the topics are different, or the guests are different every time it's really the person that's hosting that kind of makes the magic. Well, anyway, that's a testament to you, since you're the host of two podcasts that keep me tuning in.

(Sydnee)

Yeah, Yeah, I think, you know, first of all, you have to figure out what is your thing? What is your end, there's thousands and thousands of podcasts, talking about, you know...some of them are kind of the same thing or overlapping stuff. So you got to have a hook. You got to make yours, like what makes you different from all of the thousands of others, but after that, it's like the people who tune in, they want to hear your point of view. They don't want regurgitated things from Twitter or from Clubhouse, they want to hear an interesting perspective that they're not going to get from, you know, somewhere else.

(Yasmin)

So switching it up a bit, I wanted to talk a little bit about the other kinds of sounds and things that are outside the podcast arena. Are there any iconic voices, phrases or sounds that really stick out to you or kind of stuck in your memory of whether it's like radio, from podcasts or from TV shows? or just like sounds and voices that have really stuck throughout time?

(Sydnee)

The bombs, the bombs on funk, flex, funkmaster flex, you see me I'm in New York, for whenever he's DJing. I when I hear that I'm like, Hot, 97 Funkmaster Flex, I kind of remember, like all the songs that I would that's connected to funkmaster flex when he was super, super popular. I mean, I don't know anything right now, that's equivalent to such a powerful intro.

Like funkmaster flex, it's like, okay, the party has started. And that funkmaster flex will never he'll always cut it off right before the chorus. You know, he never played the song the whole week. I think we caught on. We like “Funk play the whole song!” Like, we don't want to hear snippets.

(Yasmin)

So how do you deal with the sound of your own voice? Because I feel like this is something that comes up all the time. You know, people are like, Oh, I hate the sound of my own voice. I can't listen to myself. Is this something that you still feel? Or did you have to move past it?

(Sydnee)

I swear this is it's such a good question. I don't think you ever get over it. Like how annoying your voices are. Like your voice is annoying to you. Because it's you. But there's so many people who have reached out to me, like, whenever you talk, like I feel calm, I feel like things are going to be okay. I know that you're going to steer me in the right direction or the wrong direction, but it's going to be a fun direction. I will play my stories, like over and over and over again. And I'm like, Oh my God, why do I have followers? Why do people listen to this? Oh my god, I'm such a nerd. But it's just a true testament to you know, you got to love yourself. Like every part of it. Even the annoying parts, even the flaws. It's like, what you think is trash, someone else is like that is treasure and I listen to it every Friday on my way to work, you know?

(Yasmin)

Yeah, I love that. I love that. Um, so who's a voice you don't get sick of?

(Sydnee)

Ah, I don't know. I love my best friend Marie Faustin, she just has so many different voices. She's so charismatic and animated. And it's always something new. Like, I've known her for seven years and I'm not tired of her voice. I'm like, you have such a good radio voice, such a good podcast voice it's so calm but also loud. It's sweet but also rude. When I read but when I listened back to our podcast she's sometimes the highlight of it because of her voice.

(Yasmin)

So tell us a little bit about your two podcasts. I know you're hosting hobby hunter which is your solo and then your other podcast with Murray called unofficial expert.

(Sydnee)

Okay, so hobby Hunter, you know, is like also my side gig from Unofficial Expert. You know, we all were trying to figure out what the hell we're gonna do during, you know, this time of just being in the house. And a lot of us who are artists who work non-stop there, we don't get breaks, we really don't have hobbies, like we had hobbies before we started whatever job we have now. But we just don't really do anything for fun because we truly believe that the job that we're doing is fun. And it's like, no b*tch, what if you can't get on stage? What if you cannot work? What else will make you happy? Can you roller skate? Can you bike ride? Can you do puzzles? Like, what else can you bring to the table? So hobby Hunter is basically me talking to, you know, various friends and people in the industry on like, what's that other thing that you found that made you smile, or gave you some kind of purpose during the day?

(Yasmin)

Do you have a favorite hobby that someone's presented on the show? I know you started this a little bit early this year. So you're not like seasons deep or anything, but is there something that rises to the top?

(Sydnee)

Yeah, I had an episode with Benito Skinner. He is into skincare. And I am too. So it was just such a great conversation. Because, yes, it's like a regimen for you know, you want to keep your skin glowing, whatever. But it's also like a fun thing that you get into you, you get into the different like hyaluronic's and different brands, and you know, the stuff that's good, the stuff that's bad, and you watch the videos of people massaging their faces, it's just, it could go on and on and on.

But I really did enjoy talking to him about it, even though I felt psychotic. Just knowing all the money I spend on it. So I love that and then don't say Sloane does UV resin. So she can make jewelry out of resin. So she'll get like, she can make earrings and bracelets and necklaces. And she actually sent me a kit on how to do it. So that was I mean, she showed me all of her work. And I was really blown away. I was like, Oh, you can spend hours doing this? Wow. Yeah. Have you started? Have you done anything? Girl? Let me tell you see, your girl was on the run. She was on tour. I went to Jamaica. I went to LA as soon as the borders opened, and we could get out. I was like, “What do I need to have before we can go out and so I'm trying to push myself to still find reasons to do other things?” Because the great thing about the pandemic, I know you would never hear someone say that out loud. The great thing about the pandemic is that we had to sit in stillness, and we had to sit with ourselves. And we had to really figure out what the fuck am I doing? Like, what is my purpose? What makes me? What gives me joy, even when I'm not making money? And, you know, I still have to follow suit with finding a hobby. I think

(Yasmin)

I think planes, trains and automobiles are the perfect hobby for you. If all you do is get on them and go somewhere. That's fine. Anyway, so what about Unofficial Experts, as you called it, Hobby Hunter is you know, your side gig and Unofficial Expert is like I guess the main squeeze. So tell us a little bit about that.

(Sydnee)

Well, it's my baby. It's definitely my first child. And it's basically Marie and I love getting into people's business. We are very nosy, but we don't want to have such a formal conversation. So I was like, Oh, I want to talk to experts. And then Marie was like, “that's boring, we need to talk to people who are unofficial experts.” And I was like, “Oh, yeah!” like stuff that you don't really need to be an expert in. And yes, that's exactly what it is. So it's an unofficial, like informal interview on things or topics about people that they think they're an expert in. And it's great. It's fun. Yeah.

(Yasmin)

It actually is super fun, for any of you that haven't listened to it. And I even had the pleasure of seeing that show, back when you could still do live things and it was just as great. Similar question, do you have a favorite official, unofficial expert?

(Sydnee)

Yeah, Paris Sashay. She was the petty expert. And also back to the streets. She is famously single now. So she is giving you all the materials you need to be back in these vaccinated streets. And I love it. I love it because I'm, I'm in a relationship. So I have to vicariously live through my girls and guys who are not boo’d up. And she gives you the information she tells us like how she got broken up with, how she broke up with someone else. And she tells you the people that's in her DMS and how to get back out there and it's fun, isn't she?

(Yasmin)

Yes, she's the hot girl summer ambassador. Right? Yes. I love that. Yeah, I love that. Well, thank

you so much for joining us today. before we let you go, where can people find you?

(Sydnee)

Okay, so you know, obviously if you're a picture book girl, I say go on my Instagram because it's a lot of pictures and I do know how to hit those, it’s @justsydbw and I give you all the updates on like my podcast and if I have shows or what not. And then Twitter's a work in progress. You know, I'm not amazing at it, but not terrible. You can follow the journey at @Justsydnyc. And you know, on my podcast!

(Yasmin)

Thank you so much. Thank you again to Sydnee Washington and all of you for listening, and don't forget to tune in to Hobby Hunter and Unofficial Experts.