The first thing I notice about Cyn is her suit. Her power suit, I should say. We’re on the set of her music video for “Drinks,” and she’s wearing a tweed blazer with a matching vest, a crisp white shirt, and khaki trousers, all of which she accessorizes with siren-red lipstick, white heels, and her signature curly ‘do. She’s a dead-ringer for ’90s Meg Ryan, I tell her.
“Thank you!” she exclaims, throwing her arms up. “Some people are saying other things and I’m like, ‘Wrong!’ But Meg Ryan, absolutely.”
It’s just before 11 a.m. on a Thursday in late February, but Cyn has been up since the crack of dawn. Her call time was 4 a.m., she explained, and the nerves and jitters that come with a shoot like this meant she didn’t sleep very well the night before.
“It’s a big day, and a lot of what we did today for the ‘Drinks’ video was my vision,” she said during a break between shots while curled on a couch, munching on a protein bar, and letting her feet breathe in flip-flops. “I wrote the treatment and then brought it to the director, and he added a few cooler things to bring up the production. I picked the place and I picked [the outfit].” After running it by her mentor Katy Perry (Cyn is signed to Perry’s label, Unsub Records), whom Cyn says is “stoked” about the vid, KP even helped bring on the director, Taylor Fauntleroy, and recommended one of her makeup artists.
Now, the world gets to see Cyn’s fully realized vision come to life. In the video for “Drinks,” released on Friday (March 6), she strolls around an intimate, dimly lit bar, staring down the camera with cool confidence while flippantly shrugging off a guy’s bullshit. “He got mad, so I got drinks / No I’m not walking around in circles worried about what he thinks,” she speak-sings over a beat that borrows equally from jazz and hip-hop. “I don’t know what the problem is, I don’t think it’s me.”
“Drinks” is the lead single for the soundtrack of the upcoming feminist revenge fantasy Promising Young Woman, which stars Carey Mulligan as every would-be rapist’s worst nightmare. For Cyn, the song — which she lovingly describes as “feminine and bitchy and confident” — has its roots in an argument with a now-ex-boyfriend.
“I just was reeling,” she recalls about the quarrel in question and the ensuing bit of writer’s inspiration, which, yes, came after knocking back a drink or two. She texted a few collaborator friends of hers and said she wanted to write a song with the top line, “He got mad, so I got drinks.” Cyn said, “They were like, ‘Girl, it’s 2 a.m. Sure, but talk to you later.'”
After putting the chorus to paper, she ended up playing it for Promising Young Woman‘s music supervisors, who loved it and asked her to finish it. Cyn got to see an early preview of the movie, and decided to write the verses from the perspective of Mulligan’s character, Cassie.
“I think about it as: That hook is my life. And then there are some lines in there that were inspired by the movie; something like, ‘As soon as it’s over, I can be me again.’ That feels very much like Cassie,” Cyn explained. “I was thinking, what would Cassie say if this was her song? Like the lyric, ‘taking a Band-Aid and ripping it off.’ She has this hardship in her life that she’s going through and she just has to get it out of the way because as soon as it’s over, she can be herself again.”
This isn’t Cyn’s first brush with movie music — earlier this year, she contributed the tantalizing “Lonely Gun” to the women-powered Birds of Prey album, then had “I Can’t Believe,” a sunny cut from her 2019 EP Mood Swing, featured in To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. Along with “Drinks,” she has one more song featured in Promising Young Woman, “Uh Oh,” which she wrote to complement a specific scene in the movie. She’s not sure if there’s something inherently film-friendly about her work — “Maybe it just ties back to me really enjoying the feeling of certain kinds of films and bringing that feeling into everything I do musically,” she suggests — but there’s certainly a cinematic flair to “Drinks” and its accompanying video, which she modeled after the mood of ’90s rom-coms. (That would certainly explain the Meg Ryan vibes.)
“The way that I feel when I watch a movie that was made in the ’90s is such a stamp, and I really wanted to feel that in the lighting, in the styling,” she said. “But I also didn’t want to complicate it. This is a song about two girls getting drinks, and I didn’t want to have some crazy shock-value situation. It’s not that. It’s just a simple story.”
A simple story, sure, but with a bit of an ironic twist. The video was shot at the vintage-era cocktail bar Checker Hall in L.A.’s Highland Park neighborhood. Cyn once had a rehearsal in the bar’s adjoining music venue, The Lodge Room, before joining Perry on her 2017 Witness tour. She also had a date here with the guy she wrote “Drinks” about — before that fight happened, of course. They’re not together anymore, she explains, but she doesn’t seem sad about it. “Drinks,” after all, has given her a new kind of buzz.
“I was about to do a scene and I’m looking around and all of these people are here for me and my art,” Cyn marvels. “It’s weird and it’s great. I mean, if I was a little girl, I’d be like, ‘Don’t worry about it. You’re going to be doing cool things one day.'”
“Drinks” appears on the Promising Young Woman soundtrack, which also features songs from Charli XCX, Fletcher, Sky Ferreira, Donna Missal, and more. The album arrives on April 3, two weeks before the film hits theaters on April 17.