Cyn On Loving "New York," And Empowering Break-Up Anthems

The 27-year-old singer speaks about Jewel, "I'll Still Have Me," and feeling inspired by her favorite city.

Cyn loves New York — don't get her wrong — but her latest track, an eponymously titled love letter to the big city, is technically about a someone rather than a somewhere.

"I have an ex-boyfriend in New York," the 27-year-old singer and Katy Perry protégé admits over the phone. "It's really a love song disguised as a song about a city. I feel really proud that I was able to disguise it into something that feels universal and that isn't fully dedicated toward a guy, but I really do love New York! It's about him, but so much more than him."

Cyn released "New York" on Tuesday, and it's a searing ballad that’s full of yearning and awe, and follows a long tradition of songwriters who’ve expressed and experienced the same. “Oh, where the future's bright/ The grass looks so much greener under neon lights," she sings with the same genuine sincerity that first skyrocketed her to fame on her 2018 sleeper hit, "I'll Still Have Me."

The Detroit native has spent the last two years sharing a steady stream of new music, including the sultry, clubby “Drinks” from earlier this year — a delightful break from her usual searing ballad — and an "even moodier" rework of her 2019 debut EP, Mood Swings, where its tender tunes about heartbreak and recovery now simmer alongside soft synths and echoey electronics.

A few days before "New York"'s release, we hopped on the phone to catch up with Cyn about the new single and everything else we were curious about, including her love for Jewel, her Pinterest addiction, and how "I'll Still Have Me" is her ultimate break-up song.

What is your astrological sign?

I'm a Taurus.

Do you believe in it?

Everything... you know as they say, it's so general. Apparently one of my things is stubbornness, but so many people can be stubborn. So I don't know. I like to indulge in it when I feel lost, but usually when I'm on track, I barely every read my horoscope.

Do you believe in ghosts and have you ever seen one?

I think I've felt them and probably out of the corner of my eye experienced some supernatural things. I just moved into a new house. I woke up in the middle of the night and one of the lights was on, and I thought I heard the faucet running one night and then I thought, "Should I bring a medium over and talk to them?" But to bring a medium over, that already says "Oh by the way, I think I have a ghost in the house." So of course they're going to think that a ghost is there. I just wish there was a way to do it that's like, the canvas was blank. If someone random showed up at my door and was like, "Hi, I'd like to talk to you about your ghost problem," I'd be like, "Holy shit yes, come in!"

What is your go-to drink order?

I would say dirty martini, for sure. Or even, a fresh, crisp white wine. I don't like anything too sweet. I'm usually on the salty side of things.

What is your go-to hangover cure?

I do this really weird thing sometimes where I wake up in the morning and I just drink the pickle juice out of the pickle jar. It's a lot of relief for a few seconds and then you just feel, "I'm really disgusting." My tummy is like, what are you doing?

Who would be the three headliners of the music festival of your dreams?

Carol King, Alicia Keys, and Jewel. Jewel DM'ed me on Instagram once and told me she really liked my music and it was a really special [moment]. She has this Zoom concert coming up I think in November, and my girlfriend and I are going to make a fun night of it. We're just gonna hang out and watch her. She's going to be performing her album Pieces Of Me.

What is a bad habit of yours that you've been meaning to fix?

I leave a little trail everywhere I go. It's not a disgusting mess or anything, but my house, the way it's set up, I have the closet in the guest bedroom because the closet in the master is not big enough. I have things in my bedroom and things in the guest bedroom, and there's stuff in another bedroom on the other side of the house that's all my hanging garments. I think I'm constantly leaving a trail of clothing, and all my shoes are at the door. I have, like, 25 pairs of shoes at the front door.

What was the last internet rabbit hole that you went down?

I think my Pinterest becomes hyper-curated towards me these days where if I click on one piece of artwork that's a specific thing, I just sucked into this world of... I've been really inspired by ancient folklore, fairytale art, so my Pinterest is just full of art from the 1700s, 1800s, of fairies and little elves. Then it's those really faffy '80s comic book style women — it's like a girl crying and she's like, "Tell your wife you love me," with that little blurb.

Describe your worst date in 3 words.

I've been lucky, I think, because I never really dated around. I'm in a relationship now and that was... I don't know how that happened. But before that, the worst date in three words: horrible wine, anger, and I don't know, confusion?

If you could be in any music video what would it be?

"Cosmic Love" by Florence + The Machine. I don't know if she has a music video for it, I've never looked it up. But I love that song so much and I actually just wrote a little piece about the first time I ever heard that song and it's just so gorgeous with all of the harps and the poetry of the lyrics. It's like a girl running through a forest, and she's barefoot and she's getting all cut up — that's how I hear it — but she doesn't care because she's in love. I would love to be that girl in that music video.

What was your first concert and what are your memories of it?

My first concert was Jewel. I think I was five or six years old, so that was in 1998 or 1999. I just remember I couldn't see. There were people standing in front of me; we were on a lawn. I remember my mom was concerned because there was a lot of pot smoking, but I literally just was looking forward and trying to hear Jewel, and she told a story about how she got into a truck driver's truck, and he drove her somewhere and all she had to do was show him her boobs. When I was five, I was like, "What? Ok. That's fine. I love her music."

What was your teenage AIM screen name?

This is so weird. It was PureVelvet3925, like what was wrong with me? What was I trying to say? Was I trying to give off porn vibes? I have no idea what I was thinking, but that is the truth.

What lyrics would make up your AIM away message today?

I remember leaving [Fergie's] "My Humps" as an away message. Why? What was I thinking?

What's your favorite meme or internet joke and why?

Rickey Thompson. I met him once in New York and fan-girled out but he posted this video. It's not really a meme, but he posted this video of him like: "It is time for you to vote!" And the way he described the world: "It is ugly out here!" And I'm like, "Yes! It is ugly! That's a great way to describe it." I really love the kind of content he puts out and constantly laughing, and I also think it's just good vibes and positivity which is something we need more of.

What is your go-to breakup song?

Probably "You Were Meant For Me" by Jewel, is just kind of the classic one. Not to be a certain way or anything, but my song, "I'll Still Have Me" is like, let's be honest, so perfect for that moment. It's so empowering and it reminds people that they still have themselves. I literally wrote it about my breakup so that is the ultimate version of the song for me.

What is your favorite red carpet look of all time worn by someone else?

There's that one Rihanna look where she's wearing that see-through gown and it sparkles. That's the first one that comes to mind. I just think she is a star. And then she also wore that one red carpet look that's like a yellow puffy dress — basically anything Rihanna does is my favorite.

What is one thing everyone should buy that is under $10?

Does it matter that it's kind of shallow? On Amazon there are beauty blenders that you can get in a pack for under $10 and it just makes so much more sense getting eight of them for under $10 than buying one for $5. I think there are so many little bulk items that you can find on Amazon. Anyway, I'm too practical... it's probably not entertaining but that's the way I feel.

What reality show would you most like to appear on?

Maybe "The Floor is Lava?" How stupid is that show? I would love to do it, it's so dumb. I just think it's really funny when they say "The floor. Is. Lava!" These grown adults trying to do this obstacle course. I would just run as fast as I could to see what would happen.

What is your favorite pair of shoes that you own and why?

I love a crisp white sneaker. I think they look great with sundresses, they look good with jeans. Anything that's really white just kind of lets everybody know: "Hi, I'm put together." Especially something that you wear on your feet! Even if your bank account is negative, if you have a really nice white shoe on, no one will know.