May 03, 2021

For SYTË, the Pandemic Is A Call to Action


SYTË is a band from Kosovo known for their electrifying performances e.g. at the Pop Kultur Festival, the Sunny Hill Festival or the Localize Festival. Style-wise, the band of lead singer Nita Kaja operates somewhere between alternative R&B and indie-pop. The band’s latest single, “Up in the Air” is a feature with London-born Qendresa, which comes across as cheerful despite a heavy message. So does the accompanying music video. We asked SYTË about the background…

Hi Nita! For your latest single, SYTË collaborated with Qendresa. What is “Up In the Air” about? 

“Up in the Air” is about my struggles with having an obscured concept of “home” and a divided identity as a diaspora kid who, culturally speaking, feels neither “here nor there”, unsettled, or “up in the air”, which is a common theme among the Albanian diaspora community—including London-born Qendresa.

For some backstory, your parents were refugees in the Kosovo war in 1999…

… and they luckily escaped to the US, where I was born. Though my life was primarily led in New York/New Jersey, I spent every summer in Prishtina, Kosovo until I finally decided to move here altogether right after high school (a decision that was partly fueled by meeting and falling in love with Drin, my partner & fellow band member). I was only supposed to be here for a year, but life kept happening and my return to the States kept getting postponed.

The positive side of this excruciating pandemic is that it has served as a call to action for me to make a big future-defining decision that I’ve been putting off the past four years. Without context, “Up in the Air” can be understood as a breakup song, but it’s essentially my goodbye to the most intense, beautiful, challenging, and growth-inducing four years of my life.

How did you get the idea to work together on this new song?

We’ve never collaborated with any other artist before Qendresa actually! We never really planned to either, but this meeting just felt so fated. The pandemic swooped in and forcefully shut a lot of doors for us, but the silver lining was that it also forced us to look within and sort out all of the internal and existential issues we’d put on hold.

As a result, I started thinking more and more about “home” and my struggles as a diaspora kid living in her motherland, all while contemplating what the next step with SYTË would be. As soon as I came to some conclusions, Qendresa magically showed up as the missing puzzle piece—a perfect match for collaboration as someone with a similar story to mine but also a complementary musical vibe.

SYTË & Qendresa im Musikvideo zu "Up In the Air"
Complementary vibe and similar story: SYTË & Qendresa in the music video for “Up In the Air”

It was so easy to work with her and we have amazing chemistry. I still can’t believe how easy the whole process of writing, recording, shooting, and releasing flowed.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Living life and making music is all about experimentation and trial and error. With that being said, we want to learn more about ourselves and grow more confident in our sound. The new music that we’re gonna be putting out has evolved in production quality, lyrical content, and just has more concentrated intentions embedded in it. We’ve experimented with different genres and production styles but I think with age, experience, and lots of introspection, we’ve settled into a unique pocket of sound and understanding of self that can only really be defined as SYTË, and we’re extremely excited to show everyone!

What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

Put yourself out there! Post your content! Send it to everyone you know! Make as much noise as possible! Erase shyness and embarrassment from your mindset, because being proud of your music and making sure that it’s heard is nothing to be ashamed of.

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