DATE OF INTERVIEW:
11th April 2016
SKYE "SEVER" SWEETNAM
METAL DISCOVERY: You’ve mixed up a few different genres in your music, but it’s such a well-crafted fusion as everything gels perfectly to give you your own sound…
SKYE: Thank you.
(Skye Sweetnam on surviving Cyco City)
"...just have your wits about you, always watch your back because you never know who’s behind you and, I would say, look within because the answer’s within..."
Skye "Sever" Sweetnam in Rock City, Nottingham, UK, 11th April 2016
Photograph copyright © 2016 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Sumo Cyco Facebook:
SUMO CYCO DISCOGRAPHY
Lost in Cyco City (2014)
Official Sumo Cyco Twitter:
Thanks to Libby Maguire for arranging the interview.
Official Sumo Cyco Website:
MD: But what would you say is the essence of a great Sumo Cyco song?
SKYE: [Laughs] Well, I think, to me, like when I’m writing, especially with lyrics, I always run things by my band mates, because there are always one or two little things I’ll put in there that they’re like, “no, no, no… only girls can relate to that, let’s make this so it feels more powerful so that dudes can get into this too.” I love feeling powerful in my music and I love to give that off through the music, so a lot of the songs are kind of empowerment songs or songs about strength, so I think that’s a big part of it. As far as genre goes, we’re very influenced by dancehall and anything you can kind of like move to, but then it still has that heavy bite with guitars and drums hitting really hard. There’s definitely an urban influence; I like to rap a little bit; you have the dancehall rhythms…
MD: A lot of groove as well.
SKYE: And groove, yeah. One of our influences is Skindred and, so, we kind of get that whole dancehall-metal thing from that. And then, of course, just being rowdy and… I like to think that we’re having so much fun in our music, that’s what we want to give off. It’s like, you can be totally badass but have so much fun while you’re doing it.
MD: That’s a good segue to my next question!
MD: I gather Skindred’s ‘Babylon’ album was a big influence on you initially?
MD: And you actually got to work with Benji on a track, so that must’ve been a dream come true?
SKYE: Oh, it was, it was. I filmed our whole day with him. When we recorded the track, we were just conversing over email, so we never actually got to see him. But the last trip we were over here, we came through Wales for the last show on our tour and I thought, you know, a shot in the dark, I’ll just throw it out to Benji to see if he might want to do a music video for the track. And he was like, “yeah, cool.” Not only was he wanting to do the music video, he helped us arrange where we filmed it; he hired a kid to help us film it; he had his rehearsal place where he rehearses with Dub War – he invited us in there to do the video. He took us out to Newport and showed us around, and everybody knew who he was; he’s like the kind of Newport!
SKYE: It was so cool. It couldn’t have been a better experience, like meeting someone that you respect so much and I got so much influence… I mean, if you’re gonna meet somebody that you love that much, it’s really cool meeting them when they know you and respect what you do as well, and it’s not just in a fan situation as well. It’s so cool because he digs what we do, so it makes it even more amazing to me.
MD: The music videos, which you mentioned earlier, you produce, direct, film and edit yourselves… great videos…
SKYE: Thank you.
MD: Ever so slightly deranged as well… in a good way!
SKYE: [Laughs] That’s what we love!
MD: So, what’s been the biggest challenge in making those?
SKYE: Yeah… there are challenges, but they’re always so much fun. We do things such low budget that it really comes down to, “who’s got a cool house; who’s got a cool location that we can use?” We’re kind of working around that, and we’re slowly acquiring camera gear as we go, and learning how to work it. A recent new piece to play with is a twelve foot crane… we have so much fun with it! We’re learning new techniques every time we use it, it’s like, “ohhhh, we should try that next time, that worked so well.” So, it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes, because of the fact it’s so low budget, our brains aren’t thinking well with consistency on certain things where we’re like, “oh, we have to go back to the location and film this to make this part bridge to this part.” But, we make it work and, I mean, we’re so grateful to have so many cool friends come in for free and just like, “yeaaah, I’ll act like an idiot, no problem!” I was just teasing my bass player how amazing… there’s this one video we did that kind of got lost in the shuffle because everyone hated it, because it was about roadkill…
SKYE: Anybody who sees a dead racoon for the opening shot would be, “I’m not sure if I want to watch this video!”
MD: That’s like the opening shot of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.
SKYE: Yeah! [Laughs] But he’s so good in it, he’s so hilarious, and we literally just did him up like this redneck, roadkill picker upper in his pickup truck… and we did this whole makeup job on him and got him prosthetics and stuff. And it was so much fun, and he just got into character in two seconds.
MD: In part, they have a retro low budget horror vibe about them…
SKYE: It’s totally that.
MD: Are there any particular directors who inspire you in that sense? Certain shots, I can see a Sam Raimi influence…
SKYE: [Laughs] I was gonna say Sam Raimi! Matt, he’s the huge horror movie buff. He watches and introduces me to the B and C grade movies. But it’s funny that you mentioned Sam Raimi because we literally, on our last video, “now we’re going to do the Sam Raimi shot where we do this and this, and zoom into that.” We reference that all the time.
MD: If you had to choose one of your videos to be transformed into a feature length movie set in the Cyco City universe, which one would it be, and who would you ideally want to direct?
SKYE: Oh, wow… I figure it’d be pretty hard not to ask Sam Raimi to direct it since we’re so much influenced by him. As far as the video… a lot of people really like our video called ‘Go Go Go’, which takes place with the scarecrows in this creepy house. So, I think that would be pretty fun to do. We had a lot of fun with that one.
MD: I think there’s potential for the clown one.
SKYE: ‘Interceptor’, yeah.
MD: That looks like some kind of modern mansion that was filmed in… a very nice looking house.
SKYE: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s pretty cool because it’s all glass on one side so it has this very modern, weird look to it. That’s actually… if you look up “girl getting hit in head with ceiling fan”, that’s the first thing that comes up. While shooting that video, I got hit in the head with the ceiling fan.
MD: Wow, that’s dedication for your art!
MD: In the future, if your budget allows, will you be looking to incorporate elements from your videos in your live shows; maybe having some skull Terrornauts, scarecrows and clowns on stage with you?
SKYE: You got it! We’d love to. Our real goal is we’d love to be able to do more theatrics. Hopefully, we can grow and we can afford to have a bigger production. But, when we were in Toronto, we did one show which we played the whole record from start to finish, played the videos in the background, and then my brother dressed up as the character called ‘The Ugly’ and chased me around the venue for one song and the fans just loved it. Actually, my brother came back after he’d finished portraying the part and was like: “The fans were literally hitting me like I was the actual character! They were violent towards me!” He was trying to pretend to catch me and I guess everyone was trying to stop him from catching me!
SKYE: It was pretty hilarious!
MD: Brilliant! The final thing I wanted to ask, a ridiculous question to end with, but what survival tips can you offer up for anyone finding themselves lost in Cyco City?
SKYE: Ahhhhh… well, you’ve kind of gotta go with the flow because you never know what you’re gonna get. So, just have your wits about you, always watch your back because you never know who’s behind you and, I would say, look within because the answer’s within, and you’re gonna see how this saga ends by the time we get to chapter eleven.
MD: Ah, wow, profound closing words!
MD: Thank you so much.
SKYE: Thank you, lovely to meet you.