What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.
On the grill
Hi! I'm Sydney.
Who are you
I’m a musician, songwriter, vocalist, birdwatcher ect. Most of what I do with my time is write music, and figure out how I can do more of that. My moniker is Abraham, which would have been my name if I had been born a boy. I liked the contrast. As a young woman, it’s amazing how often you can be underestimated, and devalued. I experienced this quite a bit before people would see me play, afterwhich I was usually given a lot more respect. I wanted a strong typically ‘masculine’ name; to draw attention to how ridiculous it is to expect anything less or more of someone because of how they identify.
I was pretty young, it was either Hilary Duff or Avril Lavigne. I’m fairly certain the first was Hilary Duff. We had floor seats, I was dressed in all black. Decorated obnoxiously with yellow glow sticks, feeling confident with my freshly crimped hair and spray painted pink highlights. She sang her heart out, the songs were early 2000’s pop rock magic. She was the greatest, when I’m feeling nostalgic, sometimes I still watch "Raise Your Voice". A classic.
A life-changing concert for me was seeing Leonard Cohen at the Save On Memorial Centre, in Victoria B.C. (my hometown). In high school, I would often skip class and either go practice piano, or read in the library. I read and re-read Leonard Cohen’s collection, Stranger Music for years. It kind of saved my life. His poetry was inspiring, and absolutely helped shape me into the artist that I am today. Early on it was artist’s like him, Patti Smith (another frequent back then was her collection, Auguries of Innocence), Joni Mitchell, Laura Marling, Billy Corgan, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, and so so many others, I studied and idolized. I felt deeply connected to all of them, on a level that is actually now rare for me to feel with an artist that I love. Seeing him in concert, singing poetry—on his knees—made me want to do what I loved professionally.
Top three records
This is the most difficult question because there are so many. But, here’s a few I’m currently listening to.
Big Thief Capacity I’ve loved Adrienne Lenker ever since friend and fellow musician Kirsten Ludwig introduced me to her music in 2015. We were on our first ever tour, driving through the Rockies, heading to our next show and listening to her first solo album Hours Were The Birds. When Big Thief formed a few years later, I was immediately and deeply affected by what they were making. Lenker’s songwriting is sharp like a knife, soft like a pillow, poignant like some great novel; and as unknowable as the human heart. I could go on with these embarrassing similes and metaphors, but I’ll spare you. Capacity is heavy, which I love, and features some of my favourite songs of theirs. It’s hard to choose just one, because I’m a huge fan and think they can really do no wrong.
The Weather Station Loyalty I discovered Tamara Lindeman only a couple years ago, and I fell in love with her entire collection. I feel a kinship with her through her songwriting, she writes with intelligence and emotional transparency. ‘Loyalty’ especially gets me with it’s subject matter and it’s strange, breezy melodies.
Carole King Tapestry I feel like most musicians would agree that this is one of the greatest albums of all time. Carol King is a legendary artist, and this album is of the highest quality. The impeccable songwriting, accessibility, originality and musicality makes for an entire experience - which in my books, makes for some of the greatest records. I listened to it over and over as a kid. Laying on my bedroom floor, with the volume cranked (to 11) on my record player (the ones from the 70’s that were as long as your wall - it had a cassette player, a radio and a turntable inside).
*Honourable mention: Both Sides Now from 2000, by Joni Mitchel. Just go for a walk, and listen.
All-time favourite videos
Angel Olsen "Soirée de Poche #37" Angel Olsen has been a major influence for me over the years. I have loved this video since it came out, I love watching her solo and it’s exciting/inspiring seeing how far she has come, and continues to go. Her voice, and the emotional landscape from which she writes, draws me in like no other.
Tina Turner "Proud Mary" I would watch versions of this performance over and over, sometimes I still do when I stop believing in myself. Tina Turner’s presence on stage is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It lights a fire in me. She was so herself, so confident, so unapologetic. She could put it on, and had everyone in the palm of her hand. I think it’s the goal for most entertainers to be able to create an entire world, a rich and memorable experience. You’re all completely there together, it’s a moment out of time.
What’s in your fridge
Much fruit. I’m a true fruit fiend, so my stock is a sight to behold. Currently: mangos, apples (pink lady & jazz of course) strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, plums... and a dragonfruit, because I was curious. I always keep fruit on hand for dessert—I’m someone who wants something sweet and healthy at the end of the day.
Jam. For Jam on toast when I’m feeling nostalgic. Growing up, my sister and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents, we had our own bedrooms at their house and everything. Every morning (without fail) my Papa would make us jam on toast, with hot chocolate. So now I can’t eat jam on toast, or sip hot chocolate without being transported back to that very special time in my life.
Olives. For homemade gin martinis that I rarely get around to making. I’ve always been a black coffee, gin, red wine and dark chocolate kind of person. Pop psychologists might say that makes me a serial killer, but I think it just means that I have seriously happy taste buds.
For more on Abraham, go here.