To say that Syrhea Conaway is a versatile musician would be an understatement. Featured in the Arts and Education Council’s campaign video, “The Makers,” playing violin, Syrhea (pronounced Sir-ee-uh) also plays piano, guitar and bass guitar, and is currently learning to play the drums. Her voice is arguably her most powerful instrument; in high school she performed with the National Youth Choir, Missouri District and All State Choirs and the National Youth Chorus at Carnegie Hall.
Today she performs solo, as Syna So Pro (short for ‘solo project’), and with two bands, Whoa Thunder and The Pat Sajak Assassins. She’s currently in the studio recording her fourth solo album and both bands are planning new records in 2016. When she’s not plugged into an amp, you’ll find her at the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), keeping the
facility running smoothly as sales and operations manager.
Between work, two bands and her solo project, “I don’t really have any free time at this point, I’m very behind on the laundry,” Conaway quips. “If I’m not playing a show, I’m at band practice. If I don’t have band practice, I’m at the studio. And if I don’t have any of that there’s probably some sort of RAC function. I was just thinking the other day that I just need to sit and find a balance.”
With whatever type of balance she finds, though, music will be essential. “I can’t imagine my life without music,” she explains. “I’ve been doing it my entire life, whether it was singing in the back seat of my parents’ car on long trips or starting to play the violin and doing things more professionally. [Music] keeps me sane. There was a short time when I was in pharmacy school that I wasn’t playing music…those were probably the most depressed years of my life. And I didn’t really realize it, that I was depressed or why I was depressed. If I’m not playing music in some fashion I’m just not happy, whether I’m admitting it or not.”
She sometimes finds herself overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of shows and concerts in St. Louis on any given night. Conaway believes the music scene is currently experiencing a wave of very good local bands, reinforced by enthusiastic patrons. “Everyone, for the most part, is very supportive,” she says. “Everyone tries to support everyone else, even though we’re all extremely busy and don’t have the time – support doesn’t mean going to shows, it could mean listening to the music, sending the band an email if you like what they play, buying their music, networking and helping each other.”
Conaway believes music is all about building and developing relationships. She thinks of being in a band as a type of romance. “You get together, you fall in love, you create things together, and you’re so happy,” she explains. When bands break up, it’s no different. “You hurt and you hear these songs that you wrote together and you get angry because you can’t play them anymore or they don’t mean the same thing.
“That’s one of the reasons why my solo project became my primary thing, because all the bands I was in at the time dissolved for various reasons, and I decided to have some ‘me time,’” Conaway continues. Ultimately, though, she missed the group dynamics. “Now I’ve joined bands because I found myself doing the same things and I wanted something fresh. After a while, when you play by yourself it gets boring because you aren’t feeling the energy of everyone else playing.” So, while her life-work-music balance might not be figured out just yet, she has found equilibrium between her solo work and group projects.
To follow Syrhea and her music, visit synasopro.bandcamp.com for her solo work and follow her bands at whoathunder.bandcamp.com and patsajakassassins.bandcamp.com.