Behind the songs: Syd Hartha

Amanda T. Lago
Behind the songs: Syd Hartha
The young musician sings more than just love songs

MANILA, Philippines – If there was one artist we had to have over on Live Jam for Women’s Month, it was Syd Hartha. The 18-year-old singer-songwriter is the embodiment of female power, unafraid to raise her voice and get real, while doing so with tenderness and grace.

She appeared on Live Jam on March 5, performing 4 songs backed by an all-female band. After the show, one of our desk editors, who had been in the background during her set, turned to me and remarked on how Syd sounds like no one he’s heard before.

Interestingly enough, Syd started out by singing songs that other people had written – but it was only a matter of time before she found her own sound, which has a certainty to it that’s way beyond Syd’s years.

There’s soul in the forefront, jazz and blues in her instrumentals, a tinge of rap in the way she chooses to phrase her lyrics. It’s a mishmash of genres that comes together in a style carried by Syd’s silvery voice – at times childlike, but always powerful .

When it comes to her subject matter, Syd sings about more than just love. She sings about anger, bodily autonomy, finding one’s purpose, and loving onself.

As young as she is, Syd is already attuned to the fact that people are listening to her – and understands the responsibility of having a captive audience.

Ang artists or whatever man na mayroong nakikinig, parang feeling ko, mayroon kami, tayong voice na kailangan nating gamitin (Artists, or whoever has an audience, I feelt like we have a voice that we need to use),” she said.

Kailangan natin gamitin yung boses natin lalo na kung maraming tumitingala sa atin, lalo na yung mga mas bata pa sa atin (We need to use our voices, especially if a lot of people, younger people, look up to us).”

Here are the stories behind the songs Syd sang about: 


Syd used the image of a butterfly to depict freedom, particularly freedom of speech, and how it should be used responsibly.

In the song, she sings of how one should be careful about the things they say, because they never know how it might come across and affect others.

Napansin ko lang lately, lalo na online, parang ang daming taklesa, ang daming hindi iniigatan ang mga sinasabi (I just noticed that lately, especially online, there are a lot of tactless people, people who don’t care about what they say),” she said, when asked about what inspired her to write the song.

And words can really affect people ng malala so yun, kailangan natin pag-ingatan yung mga sinasabi natin (words can really, really affect people so we need to be careful with the things we say),” she said.

kung nag-aatubili

Syd takes inspiration from the story of her friends when she wrote this love song about taking a chance on someone new – though she was quick to say it’s not a “hugot” song.

Parang if you decide to love someone, lalo na yung kung hindi pa siya buo, you just jump and love the whole person nang buong siya (If you decide to love someone, especially if that person isn’t whole yet, just jump in and love that person completely),” she explained.


Perhaps one of Syd’s most personal songs, “hiwaga” was written as a message of hope to herself.

“It’s about hope eh, tsaka kung bakit ako nandito (and about why I’m here). It’s about purpose,” she said.

Isa sa mga main messages niya (one of its main messages) is staying strong for myself, saying strong for the people around me, and everything and everyone around me na naging parte ko (who’s been part of me).”


Syd ended her Live Jam on a powerful note – with a song that has since become an anthem of empowerment for many women. Syd said she wrote it as a response to the inequality that women face, and how people treat someone differently just because she is a woman.

The song has struck a chord in many of Syd’s listeners.

Ang daming mga nagmemessage sa kin na yun daw yung naging voice nila, tumatag yung loob nila, nagkaroon sila ng courage na sabihin kung anong tama, at kung anong dapat,” she shared.

(So many people messaged me that the song became their voice, they becamse stronger, they gained the courage to speak up speak for what’s right.) –

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.