Since 2013, Top Dawg Entertainment has built out its artist roster from the core Black Hippy quartet of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul to include Chattanooga’s Isaiah Rashad, New Jersey’s SZA, and Chicago’s Lance Skiiiwalker. In January, the Los Angeles-based label revealed the identity of its eighth signee: SiR, a multi-talented singer from Inglewood who came up in the music industry songwriting for artists like Jill Scott & Tyrese.
Born Darryl Farris, SiR debuted his smoky, unpretentious R&B stylings on the 2015 project Seven Sundays, then followed up with last October’s Her EP and this February’s Her Too EP, his first formal TDE release. In a recent interview witH HNHH, SiR spoke jovially on his upbringing in Inglewood, working with Stevie Wonder, transitioning from supporting bigger artists to focusing on his own music, and signing to TDE.
Why did your grandma give you the name SiR?
My grandmother gave me the name SiR so that anytime somewhat met me, they would have to respect me.
Do your friends and family call you Darryl?
My friends and family call me Darryl. Some of them like to call me SiR, they think it’s funny, but, you know, I don’t think that’s funny. (Laughs)
You come from a musical family. Your uncle was Prince’s bass player and your brothers and mother are musicians. What was your musical upbringing like?
It was interesting, it was different. I grew up in the church, so I didn’t listen to a lot of hip hop until later on in life, so I’m really late to a lot of things that people grew up on. But I still feel like I got the right kind of teaching to do what I do. I just take what I learned as a child and implement it with the music I listen to now, and blend them together to make me.
What were you like in high school?
In high school I was a goofball. No one ever took me seriously, I was always joking around. I played sports, that was my main focus, I didn’t even do music in high school.
How did you like growing up in Inglewood? Do you still live there?
Inglewood holds a special place in my heart. I still live in the city. Growing up in Inglewood, it was good, I didn’t really get into too much trouble, I had always had my older brothers to look out for me. Both my parents, they raised me. My life was good. Inglewood is a great place if you let it be.
How many brothers do you have?
I’m the youngest of four boys. No sisters.
Why did you choose to attend the Los Angeles Film School out of high school rather than study music?
At the time, I think I was in a weird place in my life when I first wanted to get into music, and I didn’t know where I wanted to start. And I felt like the film school would have been a great place to get me grounded. And, you know, they taught me a lot. They gave me the knowledge I needed to really engineer my own product, which was the goal in the first place. That was the only reason I went there, was because I wanted my music to be better, and because I wanted to learn about business and about the technical side. So they definitely took care of me.
What kind of odd jobs have you worked over the years?
(Laughs) Man, I had so many odd jobs, I won’t even begin to try to remember them all or name them all. My favorite job was working at the gym, I talk about it all the time. That was my first job out of high school, and I did that for about five, six years. And I was good at it. I was really good it.
What made you so good at it?
I was into fitness at the time, I was working out every day. And I’m a people person, I’m very outgoing. So it was the perfect kind of job for me at the time. I fit right in and my team loved me. I was making hella bread, or at least I felt like I was, being 18, 19, getting two grand every two weeks, you feel like you’re rich!
Are you staying fit these days?
Sort of. (Laughs)
What exactly does your fitness regimen consist of?
My fitness regimen consists of me trying to get to the gym three times a week. Run on the treadmill, I might play some basketball, I might lift some weights. Right now I’m lazy and way too busy to make that my first priority. But I need to, because health is important.
Over the course of the past five or six years you’ve worked with Tyrese, Jill Scott, Anita Baker, Robert Glasper, and Warren G. What was your life like during this period? Were you getting steady work? Were you fulfilled in your work?
My life during the time when I was working with all the people that I grew up listening to was kind of weird. I would go to these studio sessions and I would spend time with these artists that, you know, they’re so successful and everyone loves them and knows their work. I would leave those sessions and I would be sleeping on the floor, sleeping at the homie’s house, on the couch.
It was weird. It was really a tough time in my life. But it was just a period, and I made it through. And now I still see those same people, and they look at me with so much love and admiration and I could do the same with them. Just knowing that I made it through the hardest times.
Tell us the story of the time you met Stevie Wonder.
I’ve met Stevie Wonder twice. The first time it was at a rehearsal. I was somewhere in the Valley. We were on stage rehearsing and he just kind of miraculously appeared into the room. Everyone stopped what they were doing and sat down. He sat in front of the piano and just played for like 45 minutes, and we just sat there like… (look of awe). It’s Stevie Wonder so, everybody was honored to meet him. He let us take pictures, he was very friendly.
The second time I met him, it was in a studio session. He got called in by the artist I was working with at the time. We all just sat there, vibed out, and wrote a song. I don’t know if that song’s every going to be heard, but I know the lyrics, and I know the song, and I can hear it in my head.
Were you working on any personal music prior to the songs that went on Seven Sundays, or were you focused on songwriting for others?
When I was releasing Seven Sundays, I wasn’t focused on myself, really. Seven Sundays was an accident. I was writing for other artists still, and just trying to find my way. The music industry is crazy. You could be engineering one day, mixing the next day, got a show the next day, especially me, I do so much sometimes that I’m split ten different ways.
How was Seven Sundays an accident?
Me and one of my good friends, DK the Punisher, we were working on Jill’s album at the time, and we just had an overflow of music. When you’re writing for other artists, you want to write as many songs as possible so that you have stuff for them to listen to, but every song isn’t gonna be for them. And I had more of those than not. So we just kind of compiled a playlist and put it out on SoundCloud, and that playlist just so happens to be Seven Sundays.
You appeared on Jay Rock’s last album. How did you first get acquainted with the TDE camp?
Through Seven Sundays. Dave Free first heard Seven Sundays on SoundCloud, he called Kenny Fresh, who owns Fresh Selects, the label that we dropped Seven Sundays on, and told him that he wanted to meet me. Kenny was in Portland at the time. I was in Inglewood, Dave was in Santa Monica. So he flew Kenny out, and then I drove to meet them in Santa Monica, and that same day we ended up working on 90059, we worked on “The Ways.”
How did you end up signing with TDE?
Signing to TDE was kind of a process. It took a while, but I’m glad everything worked out the way it did. At the time, I was indie, I was doing everything myself, I didn’t really want to let it go. And having sat down and talked to Dave and met with him, I could see that he was real and he wasn’t about the bullshit, he was really here to help. We kind of chopped it up for a couple months and got everything together and one thing led to another and it worked out. Thank god it worked out.
Why do you think you’re a good fit for TDE?
I think I’m a good fit for TDE because I am myself. I’m not trying to do anything anybody is doing. I’m just trying to make the best quality music that I can. And I work hard. And I noticed that everybody in their camp, their work ethic is top tier, and they’re the best in the game for a reason. I feel like I can learn the most from TDE and the artists in TDE. And they’re west coast, they’re based out here. So I already feel like I’m at home.
How long did you work at Guitar Center?
I worked at Guitar Center for two years.
What aspects about it did you like and not like?
I liked my co-workers. They were real friendly. They were also very supportive of my music. I didn’t like how customers treated the employees. They would just walk in sometimes and treat you like you were Guitar Center itself, like not human, not a person, like you didn’t leave when the doors closed, you just kept your Guitar Center shirt on and shut your eyes and just waited until the store opened back up. (Laughs) So it was weird.
At the same time, we met good customers. I used to get a lot of people coming in there asking if I was SiR. And I’d be like, “No.” (Laughs) But that was a good feeling, it was cool. I miss my co-workers, man. Shoutout to you guys.
When did you quit?
I quit December 10th, 2016. And I’ll never go back.
You’ve been married for seven years. How does your wife inspire you and influence your music?
My wife is very hands-on and hands-off, I don’t know if that makes sense. She lets me do my thing, she lets me say what I want, but she’s very supportive in the silent ways. Like, she’ll come by and she’ll see me in the studio working in the studio for six hours and she’ll bring me food. Things like that. Things a man needs from his wife. Simple stuff.
And simplicity for me is everything. I don’t need you to do a whole bunch. I don’t need gifts or extravagant things. I need some tea. I need a hug. I need to talk to you for two minutes. So my wife is supportive in the right ways. And she’s very into my music. I think she’s my biggest fan by far.
Do you regard Her & Her Too as two sides of the same project?
I definitely look at those projects as one. But just because the vibes are so similar, they’re like the yin to the yang. Her Too is nothing without Her and vice versa, they’re nothing without each other. They compliment each other very well.
Do you have any goals beyond music?
If I have any goals beyond music, it would be just writing more outside of songs. I want to write books, I want to write poetry, I want to write screenplays. I just want to be as creative as possible. But no rush, because the music thing is going pretty well, so, I don’t really want to step away from this yet. But when I find open space, then I’ll be more creative in other years.
Do you plan to focus more on your own career, or would you like to continue to write for other artists?
Right now, I don’t have a choice in the matter as far as working with other artists. I’m too deep down the rabbit hole, I have to focus on me. So if I do run into a situation where I can write for someone else, or I’m working on something for someone else, it’s a blessing for them, because I’m focused on me right now, for sure.