Four things you should know about Skye Sweetnam

After a long break from her teen idol days, Sweetnam is back with a new name and band.

By: Alisha Karim-Lalji
Image courtesy Sumo Cyco

Ten years experience and a Juno nomination in the music industry is a pretty big deal. Especially if you’re only 23-years-old.

Skye Sweetnam was a small town girl from Bolton who caught her big break at a hair salon. One of the customers (who was a relative of an entertainment lawyer) overheard Sweetnam’s impromptu performance in front of her grandmother’s hairstylist. Sweetnam quickly acquired a manager and her demo made its way to local producer James Robertson. She often ditched school to work with Robertson on songs that would later appear on her debut album Noise from the Basement, released in 2004. After catching the attention of Capitol Records, who won her over with a wine and dine experience, Sweetnam signed her first contract. She was on her way to becoming a teen pop sensation when she opened for Britney Spears’ Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004. She worked with The Matrix and Tim Armstrong on her album Sound Soldier in 2007. Now, after a prolonged break, Sweetnam is back with a new name and band.

1. Well, for one thing, she’s not 14-years old anymore.

“When I released Sound Soldier, I remember my identity was so wrapped up in being this teen pop singer,” says Sweetnam. Then, when she hit 20, she went through an identity crisis, not just with her public image, but as a musician. “So much of my identity was being young, cute and bubbly all the time and I was like ‘I’ve been that since I was 14’,” she says. “I wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my career because there are so many other sides to me.”

2. She has a split personality an alter ego (and a new band).

The idea of a new persona was Sweetnam’s way of expressing a side of her that the public hadn’t seen before, without losing her current fan base. She joined her new band, Sumo Cyco, with a new name, Sever. “I decided if I give this character a name, I can do whatever I want without getting myself wrapped up in thinking that I am – 24 hours a day – that person,” Sweetnam explains. The band released its singles “Mercy” and “Limp” in 2011. Band members then donated the sales funds to relief efforts in Japan, following the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

3. Her music has evolved over time, like it or not.

Sweetnam learned early that people listen to a variety of music, not just one genre, and she feels that she basically grew up in front of the world. “You know a lot of people tell me that I’ve changed my style so much and I’m like ‘Well, aren’t you a different person than you were when you were 14?’” She agreed that she’s not exactly the same person she was nine years ago. Although her parents used to buy Top 30 pop CDs for her, Sweetnam currently enjoys listening to female fronted bands. The rock group Animal Alpha is a big influence for Sumo Cyco.

4. She still (kind of) makes her own clothing.

Her fans boast that she makes her own clothes, but Sweetnam sees it differently. “I have a sewing machine, but I’ve never really learned how to sew,” she notes. Instead, Sweetnam uses extra-large T-shirts of her favourite bands, and shreds them up to create new outfits. She still enjoys accessorizing, often in eccentric ways. “The other day I stuck a bunch of old toys and weird key chains onto my shoes [laughs].”

Quick Qs with Skye

What is your favourite piece of clothing?
S: “This big furry hat that I got recently. I’ve worn that every single day this winter.”

What can’t you leave home without?

S: “I would say my iPod.”

What is your favourite food?

S: “Chocolate chip cookies [laughs], it always has been.”

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