SUMO CYCO – An Interview with Skye Sweetnam

Crossover hard rockers Sumo Cyco have been on the rise since 2011. And, since then, the Canadians have relentlessly touring and producing music videos. But, as for everybody, the pandemic has imposed a stop to all the band activities’. But, not entirely. During this chaotic period, the band still keep working on their third album “Initiation” whose was recently released via Napalm Records. Read with us this amazing interview with Skye. Enjoy!

Interview by Miriam Cadoni

Photo by Francesca Ludikar

Crossover hard rockers Sumo Cyco have been on the rise since 2011. And, since then, the Canadians have relentlessly touring and producing music videos. But, as for everybody, the pandemic has imposed a stop to all the band activities’. But, not entirely. During this chaotic period, the band still keep working on their third album “Initiation” whose was recently released via Napalm Records. Read with us this amazing interview with Skye. Enjoy!

Hi Skye, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, how are you? And, how these precarious times are treating you? 

You know, like everyone, there are ups and downs. In some days, it’s even difficult to face the world. And, I’m sure that everybody can relate to that. Unfortunately, it’s one of the things that have been happening. 

But what we have in common, it’s that we are in this together. In the end, feeling left alone and relating to people in that way, it’s important for everybody that get through. Instead, for me, Ontario is still on a strict lockdown.

Luckily, we have a home studio where we can produce our videos. Actually, we own a pretty good setup that makes us cope with this ongoing pandemic.  

On the 7th May, it marked the release of Sumo Cyco’s third full-length “Initiation”. In truth, how the band began its musical adventure? 

So, way back when I was 14, I was a pop singer. And, then I auditioned several musicians to feature in my band. Actually, among these musicians, there was Matt. He was really obnoxious [laughs]. I still remember the first time that I met him while he was skateboarding with his gear [laughs]. And, as soon as I saw him, I thought that he will crash all his gear and fall on it.

Instead, he ended up doing an awesome job in the audition. Then, for a number of years, we toured together while getting know each other. Also, at the time, one of the other members in my band was Kenny Thor who was touring with us too.  Subsequently, what really happened is that I got involved in other projects and we lost contact. After, back in 2010, we reconnected them with the intent to compose something much heavier and more experimental.

This time, we were joined by our drummer Leg. We put together some crazy show and produced our début it back in 2011. Since then, a lot of members left but me and Matt are the founding members of the band. Right now, the line-up is Oscar on bass and Trozzi on drums. They have joined Sumo Cyco 4 years ago. Actually, they are great guys and we have a lot of fun together. They are really good to keep up with all crazy shenigans that I make part them of.  

As I mentioned before, “Initiation” will be released on the 7th May via Napalm Records. On that regards, since the latest release dates back to 2017, I was wondering to know more about its general production? 

In 2017, it’s when the band started to insanely touring. So, every year we’ve been to Europe twice and we toured the States maybe six or seven times in the last years. You know, it has just snowballing  And getting really busy. Then, around early 2019, we released a crowdfunding and a pre-order campaign for “Initiation”. In the meantime, we had already announced that we would release it independently. But, we got once again busy with touring.

And, Napalm Records’s interest arose to which followed our signing in early 2020. Actually, our thought was that were really just few months away from the release. Unfortunately, the pandemic came and our plans changed. Subsequently to this, we simply regrouped, got ourselves together and keep composing new stuff.  This material was added to the old one. And finally, get a release date.

Indeed, our plan wasn’t to wait so long because we believe that the best solution is to release a lot of music. In fact, even if we haven’t released a full-length in 4 years, we have published an acoustic album. And, we have dropped a lot of singles. Also, 2020 was the first time in our 10-year-career that we didn’t release any new singles or videos. So to speak, we always attempt to keep the ball rolling. 

As mentioned before, “Initiation” inaugurates your collaboration with Napalm Records. How was the first approach with them? And, so far how’s treating you? 

Actually, we have been introduced back in 2017 with one members of the label. Then, it’s in 2019 that the magic happened. Indeed, we had another opportunity to meet them during a gig in New York. In a way, it’s a merger of events. For instance, we shared a tour with Jinjer. Then, our manager is also the one who manages Devildriver. So, he has been on Napalm Records’s radar for a while.

Additionally, consider that we crossed path with a lot of people from the same circle. Another example is our PR Natalie. You know, before to be an employee for Napalm, she used to work at Adrenaline PR where we were colleagues. Given all these factors, it felt just the natural fit for us. Then, they were open to take us on. To be honest, since we blend and integrate a lot of musical styles, I was literally surprised by their choice because we aren’t the typical metal band.

So, the fact that they were willing to open and working with a band like us, was positively surprising. Thanks to their willingness, we actually have managed to work out a pretty good deal that indeed works for both of us. In truth, they are really supportive of all my crazy visions. Though, even if there were few negative comments, they are keep on encouraging us and most importantly, to be myself.

In the end, they understand that a certain type of metal fan won’t completely get hold of what we are trying to do. But, fortunately, there’s a new array of listeners which are actively interested in our music. This is also a further reason of why we want to keep collaborating with Napalm Records. Indeed, our last goal that we want to achieve through Napalm Records, is to get more exposure to who aren’t familiar with our music.  

Photo by Francesca Ludikar

The previous release is “Opus Mar” and it was independently released in 2017. Now after 4 years, how the band’s approach is changed since then? And, if you compare these two releases which are the differences that you can find out? 

Well, the main difference with this records this this record is simply a longer process. So, there’s more creation happened, a lot more focus on the choice of the songs and then, the adaptation of them. Normally speaking, as a band, we are really fast-moving and it’s what happen with the previous one. We were working like a freight train. Instead, with “Initiation” there were a lot of ups and down due to the COVID pandemic. 

This event not only has impacted our music but even our lyrics too. There are a lot of mixed feelings between positive and bad ones which express our pre-pandemic mood and then, when the lockdown hit us. Actually, we had a lot of time for unpack and re-work on our songs. In the end, I think is what is the main difference between these two releases.

Then, throughout these 4 years we have learned a lot as a band. For example, if before we composing our song without taking in consideration the live performances, now, we try to write the songs that can be suitable for our live shows. Besides that, we had the opportunity to work with a new producer on a couple of songs. This collaboration helped us in honing better our songs. 

Without any doubt, “Initiation” is quite straightforward as a title. To what the title album refers to? 

You know, this contract signing with Napalm, we would be aware our exposure to new listeners. And, being together for 10 years, we recognize that get out there is a big challenge. Not only that, but also approaching new listeners is quite difficult. Given that, “Initiation” is an invitation to tell to our (prospective) news fans who we are and to invite them to our club. And, the right way to approach our music is just to listen to “Invitation”.

Photo by Francesca Ludikar

In a way, we understand that we are a band quite ‘outside of the box’. So, sometimes it requires a more attentive listing to fully get hold of the picture. You know, we love to jam in small space and that it can result quite complicated to unpack. Indeed, “Initiation” offers a challenge to ones who are open to new musical genres and combination of it.

This includes to be open to the idea that metal is constantly evolving. On this matter, we include and blend elements of reggae, pop and rock. Personally speaking, I want to challenge those stereotypes for change things up.  

Out of “Initiation”, we can find the singles “Bystander”, “No Surrender“, “Vertigo”, and “Bad News”.

In your opinion, in which way these songs represent the album? Then, would you mind to share some details about them? 

Absolutely. I think that “Bystander” is really a good representation of who we are as a band because that song features a lot of different elements. Also, “Bystander” hits you over the head with its catchy pop chorus and its hardcore elements.  As a matter of fact, it takes the two extreme of what do and it mixes it together. Truth is that “Bystander” is a song of our time because I have inadvertently experienced the unfolding of a horror show while watching outside the window. That’s simply what the music video reflects.

Nowadays, we are watching what’s happening in the world through screens. And, what you see unfolding is simply a constant stream of bad news while you stand there feeling hopeless. Instead, “No Surrender” was written after I come back from North Canada. After that, I’d realized that all this negativity with the Corona virus and what all was happening, it was really literally crushing me. I was too much obsessed about the news and the sensation that everything was on the point to end. In the wake of this personal experience, I come to terms with the fact that I did completely forgot how it was to have a more optimistic view of life. And, that’s were this single comes.

Essentially, “No Surrender” is almost like a mantra to myself. To remind myself to not surrender my joy, my happiness, my fun and my love of live because of this terrible and ongoing situation. “No Surrender” helps me to remember the happy moment between this chaotic situation. And, to not surrender to the depression and anxiety that can surely happen in moment like this. While, “Vertigo” was written in Las Vegas in 2019.

I have some fond memories of those times.  We were there two weeks and we had a lot of fun, a lot of partying, and adventuring around the city. Logically, our mind-set was quite different of when we’re experiencing the pandemic. In this sense, “Vertigo” is about feeling a little bit confused as when someone is trying to knock you out of the game or messing with you. In hindsight, it makes much more sense now than before because it’s one of the most confusing time for everyone which can give you vertigo.

Therefore, the song was really written to stand up for myself in my music and in our band’s vision. And, not for giving to what we are expected to do but for what we want to do. Lastly, “Bad News” which whose title is self-explanatory. It’s about everyday hearing bad news everyday over and over again. And, feeling like the TV is invading you and selling through your heart and soul.

Personally, this song is about feeling anxiety, battling the demons we all deal this when having a situation like COVID 19. At the end of the day, it’s like relating and exposing everything in a big rant. You know, like belting all out from my chest. As a song, it’s quite enjoyable and I think a half serious cross-action.  

In a medium and long-term span of time, what’s in the pipeline for Sumo Cyco

Yeah. Since we are still inside for the foreseeable time, we will produce musical videos. Maybe it won’t happen soon because we need a break now. Behind a shooting video, there’s a lot of job. Though, my ideal situation would be to produce one video every 2 months. But, lately we have been shooting one per month. And, in the past four months looks like I have been able to focus only on making, producing and editing the videos.

So, I’d like to continue to have live streams with our fans in which we chat with each other and keep supporting ourselves throughout this strange period. Lastly, I’m looking forward to launch some cool merchandise. I have ideas for creating more jewelry and, in the future, an eye-shadow palette. I’m excited in exploring these ideas too. 

Then, possibly, some more ideas related to our Cyco city world. Such as a comic book where I can offer more details about the details of Cyco city’s concept. In the end, I would like to continue to be creative and, finger crossed, looking forward to some shows at the end of 2020 or early 2022. 

So, Skye, this was my last question. I hope you have enjoyed the interview. As per our tradition, this is your space sure you can add your final greetings to your fans and our readers. Thank you so much. 

Well, I just want to thank you for giving to my band a voice. And, in helping spread the word too. We appreciate everyone who take the chance on us rather if you like it or don’t. It’s really exciting to be able for us to have the opportunity to reach new people. So, guys, thank you so much for reading and if you want to learn more about us simply check out our social medias. Welcome to the club!

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