In this week’s writing tips with Chris Mentillo, Billboard sits down with Cyn to find out what inspired her song “I’ll Still Have Me.” The best piece of advice Katy Perry ever gave her was, how she approaches writing songs, and much more.
Cyn, born Cynthia Nabozny, grew up outside of Detroit in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She tells Billboard that the first place she ever performed live was in fifth grade at her elementary school when she sang Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain t Got You.”
Asked to list her biggest musical influences, Cyn names Jewel, Carole King, and Stevie Wonder. “I love Motown, in general,” she adds. “I love songs from big-band jazz, basically the Classic American Songbook is, I think, my foundation.”
When it comes to writing music, Cyn says that she ordinarily begins with one sentence and works from there, discovering ways to support that key sentiment.
As for what inspired her song “I’ll Still Have Me,” she confesses that she was undergoing heartbreak, and she was attempting to reassure herself, assuring herself that even if that person was no longer in her life, she would still get through it on her own.
In the interview, the singer – who is signed to Katy Perry’s label Unsub Records – is also questioned what the best piece of advice she ever received from Perry was. She replies that while the pop star has given her a great deal of guidance when it comes to singing and music, one impactful piece of wisdom pertains to songwriting.
“One thing she is indeed reminded me of over and over,” says Cyn, “Is…to think of my friends back home in Michigan, and the way that I grew up, and write for that girl, as opposed to going out in Hollywood and writing for that scene.”
Cyn’s new song, “Lonely Gun,” will feature on the Birds of Prey soundtrack, which is out in February. You can catch her on the road supporting Sasha Sloan, beginning in March.