Sina Holwerda is disrupting the genre of hip hop in all of the best ways. This badass, “watch-me-break-the-rules” rebel is using her platform to make tremendous strides in the industry.
What first inspired your love for hip hop music?
I played for a club soccer team when I was nine and we were tasked with making a warm up CD. I asked my older brother if he knew any good pump up songs and he introduced me to “Lose Yourself,” Em’s classic. I immediately fell in love, and being that my brother and I shared an iTunes account, I had all of his music on my little MP3. That night I went into my room and discovered Eminem, Nate Dogg, 50 Cent, Dre, etc. I was hooked.
What can you share with us about your journey as a recording artist? How did you get started, how did you progress and how did you get to where you are today?
I started rapping when I was nine just for fun. I would rap those same Eminem songs I had on my MP3 every night before I went to bed until I was 12 (this is not an exaggeration, I was painfully adamant about rapping every night before I went to bed). When I was 12 I decided I wanted to do this for the rest of my life and began writing lyrics everyday. I wrote a song or two everyday for two years. Granted, they were awful, but it took writing all of those terrible lyrics and trying to mimic my favorite artists for me to find who I was. It was especially hard being a young woman, not just because 0% of my friends and family believed I could pursue rap but because all of my role models were men. I wasn’t introduced to female rappers until later in high school. Because of that, it took me a long time to find my voice. I wish that I had some wonderful story where I’d hang out with my 3 best friends and we just made music in the bedroom until it took off but I didn’t have that luxury. I grew up in a suburb five minutes outside of Portland with no diversity and, therefore, had a very limited understanding and acceptance of other cultures. Nobody made hip hop and nobody understood hip hop. I was made fun of, taunted during some of my performances, and isolated because of my passion. I was different in a cookie cutter community. I grew by literally locking myself in my room and working relentlessly by myself to prove those people wrong. When I got to college I found my music people. Now I have the people I wish that I had in high school and I couldn’t be more grateful for their dedication to helping me pursue my career and their passion for music.
How did you come up with your stage name, Wynne?
Wynne (pronounced like win) is actually my middle name- it’s Welsh and it means fair skin and fair hair so, that’s me. What better way to enter hip hop culture than calling myself what everybody sees when I grab a mic.
What inspires your lyrics? If you could share a message with the world through your music, what would it be?
Everything. I know that’s the most broad answer possible but it’s super true. It would be easy to say that my music is inspired by my life because it is, but I also want to talk about topics that I see going on in the world, politics, social issues, etc. When you’re a right brained human it’s easy to be smacked in the face with a lyric idea at any moment. Keeps the day exciting.
Man…if I only had one message to give to people? Honestly, not to be the most cliche person of the year, but just to be yourself. It has been one of the hardest lessons for me as an artist because I love making people happy and I don’t like having enemies. When I went viral in August suddenly millions of people had an opinion on me and thought they knew my life without ever having met me. What was supposed to be a celebratory moment became a “how do I handle this lifestyle” moment. The solution was knowing that no matter what anybody thought of me or what anybody thinks about what I do- it doesn’t affect who I am. Those comments can bounce off of me and they’re none of my business. You are literally the only you on this entire planet. You’re the only one there ever will be. Nobody else knows how to be you or handle your life because they aren’t they and you are you. What a wonderful gift.
Last Friday, on Inauguration Day, you released your new single “An Open Letter to Donald Trump” on iTunes and Apple Music. What can you share with us about the song and what compelled you to write it?
I had been wanting to release a song since he won the electoral vote but I didn’t know where to start or what to say. I got a call from Kenny Burns just before Christmas and he encouraged me to write something from my heart in the form of an open letter. I busted out all my notes from my ethnic studies, political science, and music history classes and watched some documentaries and just began speaking. I wrote about 5 different versions – it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. The goal was to make it intellectual enough that people couldn’t listen passively and they’d have to google some of the references to really understand the history of our country. I intentionally left Mr. Trump’s name out of the song and neglected to explicitly mention any of the instances that I reference so that the listener has to fill in the lines.
What is your favorite part about recording?
I actually hate recording – well, sort of. I’m a terrible perfectionist. I will isolate syllables that I think I say weird and my engineer will look at me like “wtf?” The most fun that I have when I’m recording is when it’s a collaborative effort and I have people in the studio with me. I love talking things through and bouncing ideas off the people I trust. Bringing a bag of flaming hot cheetos and kicking it in the studio for a night with my friends and just making music is honestly the best. It’s significantly less fun when I am recording by myself because I get stuck in my own mind and will pick apart my vocals like crazy. I’ve taken 250 takes of one verse before. In reality the first one was probably fine- but how am I supposed to know that if I don’t have my friends with me to ask them if it sounded funny?
Of everything you have accomplished thus far, what achievement(s) has/have been the sweetest?
Whoa. Can I say the entire year of 2016? Life’s been surreal, honestly. I would say having Snoop Dogg post my video was a pretty “holy shit” moment. I think I went numb for a few hours. My first official business trip to LA, too. I could cite that entire trip as a milestone but to be specific: I brought my friend Spencer and we flew from the tiny airport in Eugene, Oregon to LAX and I remember landing and getting in an Uber to take us to my first session with a producer in Hollywood and I just remember thinking “I did this, I got us here, I taught myself everything I know in my bedroom and I got us to Los Angeles.” Getting my first record deal offer was also a milestone…getting my first plugs at concerts/shows were milestones…too many to name but definitely Snoop and my first trip to LA. It all feels big being from Oregon.
What inspires you as an artist?
Nearly everything. To be specific to artists though, at this current moment I am heavily inspired by: Kendrick, Logic, Drake, Travis Scott, Jon Bellion, Alicia Keys – too many to name. My artist inspirations change pretty frequently. Disney is always an inspiration –detail, color, concepts, characters. Disney always has a deeper message than is perceived at first glance and I try to make my music the same way. As far as TV shows, right now I am watching Gilmore Girls and the witty banter has certainly heightened my puns. My friends are an inspiration; freestyling with them constantly and bouncing around ideas. I get inspired pretty easily by a lot of different things.
Your website features an array of incredible music videos. What can you share with us about how you produce these?
It’s pretty much me saying to someone “Hey, hold the camera right here” the day before I need to drop it. Music videos are one of my favorite aspects of music and one of the most important. Those videos have come about in different ways but generally I edit and direct all of them. I like attention so dancing around in front of a camera is pretty easy.
Where do you plan to take your music in the future?
Everywhere. There are so many rapper household names. Think about it…Nas, Eminem, 50 Cent, Jay Z, Kanye, Kendrick, Rakim, Tupac, but nobody ever lists a woman. I want them to list me.
What advice do you have for other women in the pursuit of big dreams?
I’ve never stopped to think “Hmm, I have boobs, I must have to do things different,” and neither should you, homegirl. You’re more capable than anyone will ever admit.
Where can our readers listen to more of your (amazing) music?