Skye “Sever” Sweetnam took some time out of her busy touring schedule to talk to us here at Pop Culture Beast. Skye and her band, Sumo Syco is on tour right now with the Kings & Queens tour featuring Butcher Babies, Nonpoint, Sumo Cyco, & Cane Hill. The remaining dates on the tour are listed below. So give Skye a read, and make sure to catch her, and Sumo Cyco on tour this summer.
You just finished a tour in the UK, dropped a few shows in your native Canada, and are now on tour with Butcher Babies and Nonpoint heading all across the US. How does it feel to be constantly on tour? How do you entertain yourself on the bus? How do you stay in that close of quarters without murdering somebody?
Well, murdering band mates is never a good idea… not if you want the touring to continue. Haha. It’s true we can get on each other’s nerves, but after years of knowing which buttons not to push, we are pretty good at getting along and functioning like a team. I have been touring since I was 15 so that’s shhhh… 15 years, so touring life is very natural to me. As far as entertainment goes on our drives, we just retro-fitted a mini passenger bus to be our home on this tour. We’ve included a TV with a PlayStation and movies, but I actually prefer watching the world go by and listening to music. That is when I’m not driving or working on the laptop.
We know that Skye and Matt direct all the videos for Sumo Cyco, which are a psychedelic trip. Where do you get the ideas for the additional film that isn’t of the band? And where does the inspiration for the entire video come from?
Matt and I are huge fans of B, C and even D movies. We think it’s important to show the fans our creative vision beyond just the music. The ideas are sparked by the music or the locations we can get on the cheap. For instance, our last album OPUS MAR had a train theme. We decided each of the videos from that album should take place on a different train car. We built the train car interior at our home studio and kept re designing it for each video.
Your sound has been described as ska, metal, grunge, rap, punk, and dancehall mashed together, and it’s also been said that the best way to describe your experience is “Being murdered by a cheerleader.” Where does the inspiration for your sound come from? How easy was it to make the transition from an internationally known pop star, to a band being able to make your own musical choices?
When Matt and I started this project we wanted to take every style and sound and talent we had and put it in a blender. The entire reason I decided to start Sumo Cyco was to free myself from rules and expectations. I wanted to be free to make music that was exciting and not constrained in any way. We aspire to be the trend setters and not followers, we just do what we absolutely love and hope the passion is contagious. The transition has been more natural than it may look from an outside point of view. I have been working with Matt as my guitarist ever since I was 14 so his influence has constantly been there, pushing me to be a stronger artist. We do challenge each other which is good way to come up with better and better material.
Music has been a driving force in your life so far, if you were to completely leave the industry behind, what would you want to do? Do you think you could ever actually sever yourself from the industry?
It would be very hard to imagine my life without music, but I do really enjoy the visual film work I do with Sumo Cyco. I think I would have to be in another creative field such as film or art to feel fulfilled. Before I started Sumo Cyco I almost applied for film school but decided against it and just started directing music videos for other artists. I’ve directed and animated music videos for country, pop, electronic, rock and children’s music artists.
How do you know when a song is finished? Is there a set point where you stop working on a song, or do you continue to tweak it until it has run its course? How do you know when your album is finished? Do you ever go back and work on old songs, to add things or change them?
Hmmm, this would be a better question for Matt to answer as he’s more of the perfectionist when it comes to the final touches on a song. He produces and mixes so he’s the one tweaking the little details and it usually takes some sort of deadline to make him finally hand the song off. Concerning the songwriting stage of the writing process, there have been many times where we were close to the end and I listen to the track and decide an entire section needs to be redone. There’s an excitement that you want to feel when you complete a song and if it’s not there you have to keep working on it or scrap it. For an album, since it takes longer to compile a body of work, the songs really have to stand the test of time. If a song loses its energy as time goes on, there’s something wrong. Matt writes so many instrumentals in a fast and furious way that sometimes I forget about entire tracks for months if not years when things get busy. So finding a hidden gem on a memory stick somewhere can spark a brand new melody or lyric idea that breathes new life into an old track.
What are you planning to do after the Kings and Queens tour ends? Are you going on holiday? Taking a break from each other to re-center yourselves? Working on a new album?
We’re definitely not going to slow down! We’re feeling anxious to have more time in the studio to write and record but we also will never turn down a good touring opportunity either. Probably a good chance that all of the above will happen: A vacation for a week or so until we get so bored we have to start making music and then hopefully another tour before the year is through! We are working with some new people behind the scenes so there will also be some plotting for world domination!
And for a few oddball questions:
When do you have your creative bug hit? Mornings, afternoons, late at night?
Usually at night, but I hear that you think most clearly in the first hours of being awake, maybe one day I’ll understand the morning person thing.
Is there a song out there that you wish you could have been involved with making? (Former interviewees have mentioned Hotel California and Bohemian Rhapsody.)
Just A Girl by No Doubt
Catch Sumo Cyco on tour this summer with Butcher Babies, Nonpoint, & Cane Hill
SUMO CYCO U.S. Kings & Queens Tour Dates w/ Butcher Babies, Nonpoint & Cane Hill:
4/25 – Dallas, TX @ Canton Hall
4/26 – Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
4/29 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade – Hell
5/1 – Huntsville, AL @ Sidetracks Music Hall
5/2 – Monroe, LA @ Live Oaks Bar and Ballroom
5/3 – Destin, FL @ Club LA
5/5 – Fredericksburg, VA @ Hard Times Cafe Four Mile Fork (no Butcher Babies)
5/6 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
5/7 – Reading, PA @ Reverb
5/8 – Hampton Beach, NH @ Wally’s
5/9 – Westbury, NY @ The Space at Westbury
5/11 – Racine, WI @ Route 20
5/12 – Ringle, WI @ Q& Z Expo Center (no Butcher Babies)
5/13 – Battle Creek, MI @ Music Factory (no Butcher Babies)
5/14 – Joliet, IL @ The Forge
5/15 – Fort Wayne, IN @ Piere’s Entertainment Center
5/16 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
5/17 – Traverse City, MI @ Ground Zero
5/18 – Flint, MI @ The Machine Shop
5/20 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
5/22 – Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall
5/23 – Toledo, OH @ Civic Music Hall
5/25 – Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theatre
5/28 – New Orleans, LA @ Southport Hall
5/29 – Austin, TX @ Come and Take It Live
5/30 – Corpus Christi, TX @ House of Rock
5/31 – Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s Backroom
6/4 – Colorado Springs, CO @ Sunshine Studios Live
6/5 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
6/6 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
6/7 – Billings, MT @ Pub Station Ballroom
6/8 – Jerome, ID @ Diamondz Event Center
6/10 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
6/11 – Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver
6/12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
6/13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Whisky A Go-Go
6/14 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl
6/15 – Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
SUMO CYCO is:
Skye “Sever” Sweetnam – vocals
Matt “MD13” Drake – lead guitar
Ken “Thor” Corke – bass
Matt “Trozzi” – drums
SUMO CYCO online: