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Sumo Cyco: Interview with Skye Sweetnam
Sumo Cyco: Interview with Skye Sweetnam

Sumo Cyco are among the most brightest representatives of Canadian alternative scene. Their music shows a variety of styles from dancehall, punk, metal and light pop-styled motives. This toxic tea succinctly called «Cyco Mix» supplements vocal of charismatic Skye Sweetnam.

For 6 years of the band's existence, Sumo Cyco has released two full-length albums and more than a dozen atmospheric clips, without considering the constant tours in Canada, Europe and America. Skye Sweetnam told us about Sumo Cyco band and their new album «Opus Mar», as well as about the collaboration with Benji Webbe.

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For our readers who are not yet familiar with the work of Sumo Cyco – Could you tell us about the band?

We are a four-piece Canadian band from Toronto/Hamilton. We mix dancehall rock punk and pop to make our own Cyco mix of noise. We have a strong DIY attitude, we make our own music videos and live in a crazy world called Cyco City.

How did you come up with this interesting mix of styles?

Simple really. It was the mix of dancehall rhythms and heavy rock that inspired me to start the project. There is a band called Skindred from UK that I absolutely love. (Benji Webbe lead vocalist of Skindred features on a track in this album) Also Matt played in a band called Dodger for years that had the dancehall and rock vibes, so we took things a bit more metal and that's the place where we like our sound to be.

Skye your musical career began much earlier in pop music. Why did you decide to radically change musical direction in your career? How was Sumo Cyco formed?

Matt "MD13" Drake and Kenny "Thor" Corke from Sumo Cyco played in my backing band as a solo artist. I've known them for so many years and they actually influenced me to listen to more alternative music. I worked with some rockers such as Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Mark Hoppus (blink 182) on some solo material and just had a sequence of experiences that drew me toward the rock punk world. So I asked Matt and Ken if we they wanted to start a new project and Sumo Cyco was born.
Sumo Cyco: Interview with Skye Sweetnam


With Tim Armstrong you recorded the song «Into Action». Could you please tell us about this cooperation?


Yes, Tim and I recorded a bunch of songs at his home studio for my second album. I loved hanging out with his crew and was able to join Rancid on stage a few times as a guest vocalist. "Into Action" was originally written for my album but Tim liked the track so much he reworked a version for his solo album. It did really well at radio, so much so, that many people didn't realize I was the vocalist in the chorus. When I released my version they thought it was a cover song.

In March, the second album «Opus Mar» was released and you recently returned from the European tour in order to promote the new record. What are your impressions after the tour?

We had such a great time. We always do in Europe. I just love the vibe over there. I love seeing familiar faces at shows and meeting new people that are discovering our music for the first time. We were in tour with (hed) P.E. and those guys are so awesome live. It helped us keep our game strong.

What was the reaction of the audience to the songs from the new album?


Excellent. In fact many times as an opening band we're playing for people that have no idea who we are and our mission is to win them over. The new stuff we wrote with the live show in mind.

Sumo Cyco: Interview with Skye Sweetnam

How do you think – what compositions from «Opus Mar» the most popular among audience?

Hard to say. I mean Sleep Tight has an awesome build up but we have some great crowd participation with Move Mountains.

What songs from «Opus Mar» which are the most important for you, would you single out?

Such a tough question. I wouldn't put a song on the album that didn't mean something to me. For instance Brave II takes off where Brave left off talking about being Brave in the face of fear. I think that's a really important message right now. I also love the meaning of Kids Of Calamity. Basically everyone is a product of a series of disasters throughout history. The silver lining is that we can always be part of the change for the better.

Every author has his own approach to writing texts and music. How do you approach to this issue?

I just let lyrics and melody flow out of me. I kind of go into a trance and really let that fierce fiery part of me speak her mind. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm writing about until I listen to the song in hindsight.

Could you say a few words about the work on «Opus Mar»?

We started writing the album in between tours. So playing live really influenced the writing on this album. We write each song with a different theme, so each song is like a different car on the train.

Is it possible to consider the train as the main symbol of the album «Opus Mar»? Why did you choose the train?

We actually had the idea of the Train being the theme of the album before we came up with the title. All the lyrics have subtle Train references and I felt like it was a great visual for what the music makes us feel.

You have your own studio – it's a restructured old church. Why did you choose such an unusual place for the studio?


Firstly it's practical. It gives us the space to do what we love and it was a great deal and far enough away from neighbors that we can play our music loud at all hours. Secondly the vibe there is really inspiring. I love repurposing things and this building has so much history and is so beautiful it makes me want to create.

Are you satisfied the cooperation with the producers Matt Drake and James 'LeRock' Loughrey? What for yourself did you learn from this cooperation?

Matt Drake is also the guitarist and co-writer of all the material so he has a strong vision for what the album becomes. It was great working with James because he is an outside pair of ears to give us a different perspective on the tracks. He added some additional programming and formatting to the songs that surprised us. It's cool to be able to hand over a song to someone and they take exactly what you have but infuse new life into it.

Sumo Cyco: Interview with Skye Sweetnam

The Song «Move Mountains» was written together with Benji Webbe. This is one of your favorite artists. When you are closely meet your idols, you're worried, so as not to be disappointed in them. Because in life they may not be the same as you imagined them to be.

After meeting Benji I have to say I was not disappointed! Not only did he go out of his way to accommodate us for the music video but he invited us into his home and showed us around his hometown of Newport, Wales. He took us drinking all night. Since then Benji has invited me on stage to sing with Skindred. He is such a awesome energetic force.

Sumo Cyco is also known for a huge number of clips. And every video is different with something authentic and memorable. How important is it for you to visualize your compositions?

It's very important to us to express ourselves in more ways than just the music. In fact making video and visuals for the band is just as important to us. We are influenced by many B-movies and use the themes for our videos.
Do you plan to make another video for the songs «Opus Mar» (besides those that came out)?
Yes, we have one in the works for the song «Free Yourself».

For readers who will for the first time get acquainted with the creativity of Sumo Cyco. What 5 songs or clips would you recommend listening to or watching first? The songs that most fully reveal the work of the group.

I think watching the music videos is a good place to start:











Photo by Francesca Ludikar


Sumo Cyco: Interview with Skye Sweetnam





   

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