It's rush hour in Manhattan, but Synead is safe from the frenzy. She hops on the phone with me as she's casually getting her nails done in Chinatown. "We're getting American spirits on my nails," she says, as she takes time for some much-needed restoration today. The occasion for our chat is her ingenious new single, "Zenith", released last Friday.

Synead is never one to rush — she's been involved with the arts for half of her life and was also one of the co-founders of Millions March NYC — and her music is the work of someone who, after a period of struggle, has become in-tune with all parts of herself.

In what ways did growing up in a Trini-American household influence your sound? What were you listening to at home?

I was listening to a lot of R&B in the early 90s, a lot of hip hop, a lot of soca, dancehall, reggae... that was really prominent since my parents are from Trinidad. My grandfather used to play a lot of Bob Marley & The Wailers. Also because of the ethnic make up of Trinidad, there are lot of Spanish influences and Indian influences. So I grew up listening to a lot of classical Indian music because I would be watching Bollywood films all the time.

How did you get into activism?

I just fell into that. I felt discouraged by a lot and I just asked myself what could I do to help. I didn't know how to contribute to the cause at the time or how to organize large groups of people. I didn't have any familiarity with that. One night, we were waiting for the Mike Brown verdict to come through while I was at Union Square. From there we got the verdict, there was no indictment and I just felt really hurt because I started imagining what if that was me? What if that was my little brother? I just pretty much went from there, looked at things that had been done in the past, from the Arab Springs to students in Mexico using social media. I just thought I could follow suit and do that here. I came up with the concept of Millions March NYC and just spread it all over all my social platforms. By the morning, I had over five hundred messages from people just reaching out to help. It literally took a life of its own.

That's the best feeling. Because it stops being your little baby and becomes something that everybody can take ownership of and share.

Exactly, it becomes everybody's baby.

How was the transition from being perceived as an activist to moving into a musical career and trying to get people to take you seriously as a recording artist?

I’m this “random” girl who came out of nowhere and got into activism and pretty much spearheaded this massive movement. Then to hear she does music? It’s probably very intriguing or at least sparks some curiosity. I was already doing music for a long time actually,. I was writing and putting out music under an old moniker. People mostly knew me as a dancer since that’s what I went to high school for and did for a while, but I was always heavily involved with music. I was classically trained in French, Italian, German, doing sight-singing, a little opera, chorus groups in school, producing, and more. My mom saw the potential that I had and really invested in it.

Learning those basics definitely helps. I feel like it really lays down a foundation for you to build off of.

Yeah I always wonder what would've happened if I had actually stuck with my piano lessons you know? But I do think that these foundations definitely came into play right when they needed to. So I'm just really thankful for all that stuff. I've been doing this for some time, but it's finally picking up.

When did you decide that you really wanted to go full force down the music path?

When I was younger, around the time I started dancing, I didn't really have any plans of pursuing a career in the arts. I just sort of fell into all of this, but one art form led to another. Then by the time I was 13, I remember thinking “well...maybe I can do this for real”. I remember being 16 and I had just landed my first gig with Nickelodeon. I begged my mom to start homeschooling me. I told her "Mom, I gotta get out of school because I want this to take up all of my time”. She most definitely declined. After graduating high school I went on to college, but I didn't even want to. I just wanted to focus on my art, but didn’t have the vaginal power to do it on my own and just figure it out so I opted to miss academic classes to go to dance classes or auditions. I was actually a very hot mess... Looking back though, I was preparing myself. I just didn't realize in what capacity. I think 2013 was when I was really determined to do this, and then with all the activism stuff popping off in 2014 and 2015, I started to realize it was taking away time I would spend on my art. It was really hard to balance so I had to take a step back... I pretty much fled the country, if you will, to London.

Word? How was that experience?

It was great, I went to RADA- a theatre school- for the summer but I actually ended up not coming back for like five, six months. I stayed with my aunt, I didn't have a job, and the only thing I dedicated myself to was getting up every morning and making music.

I love that. I think traveling and being in contact with different cultures is one of the best ways to get inspired.

My mom did a really great job exposing me to the globe. We always traveled and she was set on making sure I experienced the world in as many facets as possible. My mom always wanted to make sure I had a good scope of the world and I think that's only helped me with everything else. Learning how to accept other people despite cultural differences was something I picked up very early. I've seen it all with my own two eyes.

How was returning to New York after that experience?

I was kind of reluctant. I was supposed to buy a ticket to come back to the U.S. about a month after I flew to London, but stayed longer. I was really nervous about coming because I had been away for so long, it was kind of like FOMO. I was scared that I had missed out on too many things and I just didn't know what I was coming back to. When I moved back, I just kept moving, I didn't have a job so I was just picking up on random gigs. I think I worked about 5-9 jobs in the span of five months.

How's it been for you being a singer and songwriter coming out of New York? Obviously there are a lot of women like you who are also from New York trying to make music so how have you found that?

I'm definitely in my own lane simply because of who I am as a person. I think everybody is in their own lane. It's more so people who try to pigeon hole you into a certain sound or compare you to another artist. Growing up listening to Destiny's Child, Brandy and Lauryn Hill, these people have had a vast influence on the way I sing or even on the tone of my voice. I think the thing about New York and the community I've built with other women is that I feel like I have nothing but support. It's so surreal to say that sometimes because people are often so competitive with each other, but I don't have that... That's been one of the most motivating things because there's space for everybody. Nobody does what I do, nobody can be who I am.

The single you dropped earlier this year, "Tropicao", landed in a bunch of playlists and did really well overall. Did you expect that when you first put it out?

I wasn't even expecting that, to be honest. I didn't know how the track was going to do so I was open to whatever happened. Knowing the circumstances under which we made the song and how it kind of came about, I think it's really exciting and really motivating. It just goes to show you that anything can happen. Even with all the activism, I didn't think any of that was gonna get so big. I feel like my life is kismet. That's pretty much my existence at this point.

When you do things without caring too much about the outcome, the final product ends up sounding more sincere anyway.

And that was coming out of a time when I was at the crux of protesting. And I just really needed a moment to escape. Because it's a heavy topic to talk about, it's emotionally taxing. So this was just my means of escaping.

Can you tell me a little bit about the single you just released, "Zenith"?

It’s still positive, but this is kind of revelational. I feel like I'm having such a skyrocketing feeling. I told somebody that I had this mini... not even a vision, but more just an image in my head, that I was up on a stage, it was dusk, I was wearing all-white, my friends were dancing behind me... and it was mayhem but I could clearly envision this for 30 seconds. Everything about it was so surreal, the smell of where I was, I was somewhere warm, in California or something. The track just gives me that feeling of, "I'm gonna take everything that I do and take it to the highest place that I can. If I don't do that, then what the fuck am I doing", you know?

I hear that, I don't see the point in half-assing things. What else is in store for you this year?

I'm trying to take over the world, girl. But forreal. You'll see a lot more music, a lot more dancing and movement. Just a lot more ME. I just feel so ready to do everything. Everything is coming, like a whirlwind.