Interview conducted on March 2, 2012
By Joseph Suto
Skye Sweetnam hit the scene in 2004 with her first album Noise From The Basement which reached #124 on the Billboard 200 album charts. Her second release Sound Soldier never saw the light of day in the US. It was only released in Canada and Japan. Since then Skye has been keeping her self busy with other projects. In 2009 she formed a band called Sumo Cyco. She is known as Sever and they are in the process of hopefully hitting the road this summer. Hear what she has been up to.
Rock Show Critique: Can you fill in your US fans in what you’ve been up to the past five years? What are you currently up to?
Skye Sweetnam: Well since my last record I’ve done a lot of writing, a lot of soul searching. I started a brand new band called Sumo Cyco and the genre of music is a lot different from what I started with when I was a teenager. I feel it’s a side of me I definitely wanted to explore and I’ve always been a big, big fan of rock music and punk music. I grew up with what I like to call four older brothers when I was on the road and they taught me everything I know about music and music history. They showed me more of the rock genre bands like Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Clutch and Faith No More who I grew up with on the road. Now that I’m older I kind of wanted to use that influence, it had in my teens on the road to inspire the style of music i’m doing now. I’ve also been a huge fan of horror movies and film. So I love doing lots of video and I have some crazy ideas in my head. I’ve been picking up a camera and shooting and that stuff. So with me filming and writing new music with this band, I’ve been pretty busy with myself and I’m having a lot of fun.
RSC: Your career got off to a great start with Noise From The Basement it charted on the Billboard album chart, So why was Sound Soldier not released in the US?
SS: Well you’ll notice on the CD there is The Matrix and Tim Armstrong from Rancid which are pretty big names for just a canadian release. I had done the whole record with Capitol Records in the States. Then it just so happens because of the industry re-organizing itself with MP3‘s and itunes and everything was coming along around the time my second record was supposed to be released. Capitol Records went through some major restructuring. Within a week I went from the idea that my record was going to be released worldwide and was just about to be mastered to the fact I was on a shelf and they weren’t gonna put out my record. One day I realized my marketing girl was gone, the next day the A&R guy was gone. So when all of your support’s coming from the record label and they are looking at the numbers and figures about how well your album did vs. how much money they spent on you and the figures do not add up sometimes there not so quick to give you a second chance. So I was kind of put on the shelf. My home country obviously is Canada. So I went to my label in Canada and I was like hey guys I have an awesome record, do you think you can put it out?, i really, really want to release it so my buddies at EMI Canada put it out and released it to Japan. As much as I would have loved to have it released in the states, there’s just too many contractual hoops I had to run through because of the fact I was still signed to Capitol.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to release it there but at least it got released.
RSC: I feel “Scary Love” from Sound Soldier should have been huge. What was your take on Sound Soldier? Do you feel it was properly promoted? Were the right singles released?
SS: There was a lot of issues with picking the single. It was kinda funny because the song that Canada ended up choosing was opposite from what the US was going to do. Their first choice was “Music Is My Boyfriend” or “Boyhunter” as the first single. “Human” was actually like a b-side that we threw on the album. It was one of the last songs we decided on. I think it’s a cool song too but I think out of all the songs its not as easy for someone to grab onto. It has so many different parts where some of the other tracks are a little more easier for people to grab onto, with hooks and with the genre’s that were doing well at the time. If it had like “Boyhunter” which is a little more of a dance vibe with the hip-hop I think it would have been cool. Yeah “Scary Love” would have been a cool single too. I got lots of positive feedback on that track. Into Action was another single that Canada chose to put out. The reason I think they jumped on that was because Tim Armstrong’s version of that song was really doing well in LA on K-Rock, a big radio station there. It was getting tons of requests. So Canada said “It was doing so well we should get it going for Skye up here”. But I think part of the issue with that was the fact that obviously Tim Armstrong is a massive name in the LA scene because of who he is and that was really helping his credibility to get the radio play to get his foot in the door. When you make it a Skye Sweetnam song, I think it confused people in Toronto, as a lot of people got the impression that I was covering his song rather than the fact that we had written that song originally for my album and he kind of re-wrote the verses for his album. I think it was hard for the average listener to understand what I was trying to accomplish.
RSC: What was it like opening for Britney Spears playing to all those big crowds so early in your career?
SS: It was intense, it prepared me for anything people can throw at me now. I’m not the kind of girl to get too nervous. It was some of the best experiences in my life. What sixteen year old wouldn’t want to be traveling the world, playing for thousands of people having a blast. It was pretty cool!
RSC: What are your plans going forward? Do you plan on resuming your solo career at some point?
SS: If you notice I kind of have two alter egos going on. The reason I’ve done that is I feel I want to be able to express myself like, dark rocker, crazy mixing metal with dance hall, and all the elements I love in Sumo Cyco. But I’m also big fan of pop music and I found that when I was nineteen I had an identity crisis. I got so wrapped up in that identity that I really felt my whole life depended on me being successful as a teen pop singer. Because that’s what I grew up as ever since I was thirteen years old. It was a goal to be successful as a teen pop singer. And when you’re turning twenty and I’m not a teen anymore, and I’m not necessarily into pop music anymore like where is my identity here? And so I started realizing that Skye Sweetnam the artist was not necessarily everything that I was as a person. It was just a side of me, a real part of me very creative lie i am with all the Skye Sweetnam records. But there are other sides of me and one of them includes Sumo Cyco. Long story short i don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future but I’ve left that door open by making Skye Sweetnam and Sumo Cyco separate projects. So by not putting out a solo album that’s super heavy I think turning it more into a band project and living out my life as a different alter ego has left the opportunity open for Skye Sweetnam to pick up where she left off. That’s my reasoning for having the separate names and for keeping the two styles of music as separate things.
RSC: Will you guys be doing any touring stateside at all?
SS: Yeah, totally. We’ve applied for a bunch of festivals this year so we are stoked to see if we get on any of the shows. Obviously it takes a lot of work to get rolling when you are a brand new band. We are definitely looking for shows and tours and we got our eyes open and state domination is on our path.
We would like to thank Skye Sweetnam for her time to talk with us.
You can check out the latest info on Sumo Cyco at http://sumocyco.com/
You can also check out their facebook page and download a free track at http://www.facebook.com/sumocyco