Settle in for a Dystopian Trip Into Clockwork Sumo Cyco.
Interview with lead vocalist/songwriter: Skye Sweetnam
27/06/2015- Song River
Song River: Band generator? Really for the band's name?
Skye: (Laughed) We were goofing around on there, laughing at all the names. But the combo "Sumo Cyco" didn't come up, it was after we had a whole page of ideas for names that we decided to stick those two words together.
SR: Sometimes taking another path is our best chance to find success. Was there something in particular that happened to have the light bulb go 'bing' and head down the road to a female fronted metal dancehall band?
Skye: Well, I (paused) was always drawn towards metal, punk and dance. My background is in pop music and I've always wanted to do something more adventurous than what was expected of me as a major label pop singer. When Matt Drake (Guitarist MD13) played me “Babylon” album by Skindred, that was probably the light bulb moment that started my motivation to get some songs together and create the project. Matt and I have worked together before on lots of projects, but we both felt like we were at a crossroad in our musical careers at the same time, it just felt right to start Sumo Cyco.
SR: In all honesty listening to your music I don't hear a genre label.
Skye: It's hard to place it because we do like to experiment with all different feels and genres. When push comes to shove we say "hard rock," but really the dance hall, metal and punk elements make it much more than that.
SR: Sumo Cyco... is a visual feast of a bit kitschy shock horror. A sexual appeal mixed with horror so Sumo Cyco doesn't come across campy. There is real talent underlying the fun of playing horror dress up. Question: Skye you're very physical in your videos and on stage... do you have an exercise regimen?
Skye: Thank you, well (laughed) yes I do. I try to get to the gym a couple times a week. (Shout out to my personal trainer Laura at 5 Star Fitness for pushing me to my limits). I like to move around at my shows, if there's something to climb on, I will!
SR: Has anyone said to you Skye, that you remind them a bit of a young Gwen Stefani?
Skye: Actually I have received that compliment a few times in various reviews. It's not by mistake, I love Gwen and I do take notes. The biggest compliment was hearing it from producer Matt Wilder who worked with No Doubt on “Tragic Kingdom.”
SR: It's inevitable to have our pasts thrown up again and again... Skye why and what is it about your pre Cyco days you want to escape from, or do you really even care that much?
Skye: I'm not running away from my past. I'm really proud of what I was able to carry out at a young age. Without that experience I wouldn't be able to navigate the industry as an independent artist they way I do now. Everyone grows up and most people aren't the same as they were at 15 years young. I just want to create something new for my future that fits where I'm at today and what inspires me. Try to be as authentic to myself as possible you know?
SR: Have you taken any of your former releases under your original style and remade them into the Cyco sound?
Skye: No. (shook her head and laughed) I've been asked to though. Some of my fans from my pop days are very nostalgic. I can't imagine singing "Daddy, Daddy no I don't want to go to school," at 27. I remember being 14 and bragging about how "immature" my lyrics were when every other artist would talk about how "mature" their new albums were. I liked to play up the bratty kid angle.
SR: Actually I thought “This is Me” was rather cool and pop driven, and “Tangled Up in Me” had a great DIY post skater punk feel to it. I mean yeah you're not a teen-angster anymore, but both parts of your life seem to fit who you are at different stages. Do you think you'll morph again, as time passes?
Skye: Yeah I do. I like changing, learning, exploring new sides of my creative mind.
Will My GPS Guide Me?
SR: You're building a story that supports your projected band persona. Where does Cyco City exist? And will my GPS get me there?
Skye: It is more like an alternate dimension VS. a place on earth. (laughed) You can only get there by listening to our music.
SR: What's the country's structural political order?
Skye: Cyco City is a corrupt democracy. The political figures won't admit they're really ruled by the intergalactic mafia called Terrornauts.
SR: Is Cyco City a reflection of your music, or how the band perceives societal direction?
Skye: This is getting deep! Started off more like a fun setting for our music videos. And I loved the idea we had making our website a newspaper for the city. It's basically a bit of both. I like politics and analyzing issues in our world. Writing lyrics about social issues can get me into a really fierce raging mood, which works well for our music. But we don't take ourselves too seriously, I think of it as a creative expression. I love film, storytelling and creating a world that belongs to us... that you're welcome to join if you're into it.
SR: I read your city's newspaper and it seems a tad dystopian.
Skye: I'm happy to hear somebody read it! (laughed) Our graphic designer needed filler text, so I just went to town imagining stories that fit into our world. I love post apocalyptic films & sci fi's that imagine our future. Especially those that act as a cautionary tale about what humans can do if we don't step up and open our eyes. Many people are blissfully ignorant to how their everyday choices are shaping our future. I guess that inspired those articles.
SR: Fans love an idea that encompasses multiple portions. As Sumo Cyco continues to expand, what are some other concepts you would like to merge into the whole belief system?
Skye: Well, ultimately I want fans to have a really bad ass time listening to our music or coming to our shows and learn what it's like to live in the moment. I want to promote music and live shows in general, because your mind would be blown if I told you how many people I've run into who have told me they attended their first rock concert at our shows. It's a really inclusive environment when you meet fans that love the same band you do. I want fans to feel inspired, feel like they "belong" to our Cyco Crew. I want to advocate for positive change. I think musicians have more power than they realize when they stand behind social issues. I know listening to punk rock records got me thinking about politics. I hope that answers your question.
SR: It did, thank you. You're articulation of ideas shows you are a true creative Skye. Next question: Between stage presences, videos, city, newspaper... could a graphic novel be in here somewhere?
Skye: It's not out of the question. I think if we had the time it would definitely be on our list.
SR: “Lost in Cyco City” has been released. If you had to make a concise overall statement about its sound and what the debut means... what would you say about it?
Skye: I've been using the phrase "The greatest war you'll wage is the war within yourself" - It's really amazing how liberating it can feel to just release yourself of the pressure society puts on us to be a certain way. It's even more liberating when you realize that those pressures are just in your mind. When you stop worrying about all the "what if's" and "what would so-and-so think if I did (blank)" and just be open and honest with yourself and others. That's something I've learned through making this album. Your perspective, attitude and everything in your life can be enriched when you silence the little negative voice in your head.
SR: In what ways does Sumo Cyco like to connect with their fans? Some bands rely heavily on twitter for communication, what is yours? Do you feel it works best for your fan base?
Skye: The whole band uses Facebook Twitter & Instagram the most for replies to fans. It's always been super important for us to make everyone who likes out music to feel appreciated and welcomed into our world.
SR: You're looking to spread the borders of your Cyco City, what are some of the things you as a band are looking to do in 2015-16 aside from the debut album, and Warped Tour to bring in newbies to you?
Skye: Well, we will continue our "Lost in Cyco City" saga of videos and play some one-off gigs this summer. We're starting to write for album number two and potentially do a bit of touring in Canada before we head off to Europe for the "Cinder Block Party" tour opening for Fozzy and NonPoint this winter. It's been a pretty crazy 2015 for us so far. Just want to keep the momentum rolling.
A Peek Inside
SR: One last question. Describe the place where you live? How is it decorated and where do various elements of it come from? Tells us how you've set up your bedroom.
Skye: I live in a converted church studio. I have some fun oddities everywhere. I have a large pink painted horse that looks like it belongs on a carousel on top of my fridge with a light-up giant ice cream cone. I have three mannequin bodies next to my vintage "his master's voice" gramophone top of my record collection. I have tons of vinyl figures from fav artists such as Fafi and Camille Rose Garcia and Gloomy bear. But since you mentioned bedroom, 3 of my four walls are just shelves and racks of clothes. I have all my jewelry and perfume displayed under a painting my sister and grandmother bought for me. It's an abstract interpretation of lips that reminded them of mine with purple-red and blue hues dripping and reflecting on it. It's almost always messy because I'm so busy constantly putting together outfits and throwing my clothes everywhere.