Interview: SKYND

Uber-creative, true-crime-inspired duo SKYND is the creative outlet of singer SKYND and producer/multi-instrumentalist F. An extensive European and UK with Ice Nine Kills launches in April and SKYND was on hand to talk about the tour, as well as discuss the true-crime cases that have led to SKYND music and videos.

The extensive tour with Ice Nine Kills is almost upon us, how do you prepare mentally for such a long tour?

Does it sound weird when I tell you that I don’t have to prepare mentally for this?! To me, it’s like heaven to do this [tour]…I charge my battery on tour, it’s the best thing in the world to be on tour. It’s insane to be able to play almost every night, and it’s a great opportunity with Ice Nine Kills…it’s going to be amazing.

After the tour was pushed back, and with so many other bands canceling their European tours, it must be a relief that it’s finally going ahead.

I was always sure that it was going to happen, I would have been devastated if it didn’t. It was hard with the wait being made even longer and that sucked, but it is what it is and I’m so looking forward to it. Also, the end of April is so much a better time to tour, Spring starts and you are going outside…so it is good timing.

Ice Nine Kills and SKYND on the same tour is a great fit, do you know the guys in Ice Nine Kills?

I don’t know them personally but I’ve been listening to their music since 2015 I guess, so to me, it was kind of like a dream as well because I was listening to their fictional-horror music and as an artist, I got inspired. Having the courage to write about topics that shock a few people…and what I do is write about true events so that is even more shocking…but to listen to Ice Nine Kills and know that they are doing something similar – in a really cool way – and to then go on tour with them and maybe get to know them…that is awesome.

As a performer, what are you before you go onstage, and also when you just come off; can people talk to you or do you need time on your own?

Thirty minutes before the show, I warm up my vocals and I don’t really want to talk to anyone, after the show that is kind of different because if I decide to meet my supporters – the SKYNDICATE – then I have to do a little talking. But that is okay because that’s for the people that come to the show and I love to talk to them because onstage I don’t really interact with the audience because I feel that there is no need because the main focus is on the crime that I sing about. I’m slowly getting into live streaming and when I do live stream, I want to talk about crime cases, so if it’s a show, it’s good to get to know people after the show as a person.

You release music as case files and as chapters, always with a thought-provoking video, can you tell us anything about any new case files that you are working on?

I’m actually working on a lot of new cases right now, and one of them is a pretty famous one…that’s all I can tell you.

How much work do you undertake on each case file, I can imagine that you must do a lot of background fact-checking.

I have a lot of notebooks and I am always writing facts down because I will remember better that way. Whenever I watch a true-crime documentary, or a series, or a podcast…I have a notebook and a pen so that I can write things down and when it comes to actually writing the song I already have everything that I need.

Have you ever come across a case file where you felt for whatever reason that it was not a good fit for a song and you stopped looking into it?

There are cases for me that are harder to translate into music than others; there is a difference between writing about Tyler Hadley for example [hours before he murdered his parents, 17-year-old Hadley invited people to his house for a party, he then held the party with the bodies of his parents in another room] and Jim Jones [orchestrated the mass murder-suicide of more than 900 people including hundreds of children]…those are true-crime cases where one has more depth to it than the other. Also, in some cases like Anders Breivik [committed the 2011 massacre in Utoya, Norway]…I mean, that’s a hard one to write about because there is such a fine line to where you actually draw the line. But I feel that as a listener to my music, you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to these cases and forget about them, and that’s what I want the listener to feel like…don’t forget about what happened with Jim Jones, don’t forget what happened with Tyler Hadley, or [American serial killer] Richard Ramirez. It’s also important for me to have this spark for a case but if I feel that it is still too emotional or too hard, and too much information for me to digest…then I have to draw a line. But I feel like every single case deserves a song because I can’t turn a blind eye to those cases as well.

We are constantly being told that people’s attention span is lessening due to the amount of information available with a swipe upward, and people are often lazy and form an opinion by only looking at the headlines, or a clickbait post, and do not actually do their own research and dig deeper. With songs/chapters named after killers such as John Wayne Gacy, and the Columbine school shooting; do you find yourself having to defend your songs purely because people are ignorant and haven’t actually listened to them and don’t see past the title and subject matter?

No, I don’t have to defend myself. For what? Even if someone feels attacked by my music then I feel that Netflix is doing the exact same thing. And they are making millions from it, millions. And sometimes I ask myself what is the difference. True crime has been part of art and creativity all the time, the dark side of life has always inspired artists. What I do differently is name the song title after the killer or the event, and that’s the only difference. I just call it out. I don’t leave it to the listener to form their own interpretation of what the song is about; if the song is called ‘Jim Jones’ then that’s what it is about. If people feel attacked by my songs and think that I need to defend myself…then I’m not going to do that. It’s never been about me exploiting those stories, I have a picture for SKYND, and if I can give something back to people who have been victims of crimes or abused, then that is the main goal. It’s not the right time yet, but I hope one day to have a foundation because, to me, it wouldn’t be okay to use these stories and not give something back.

If the role of an artist is to provoke thoughts and a reaction through their art, then you really succeeded with the video for ‘Chris Watts’ – in 2018 Watts murdered his pregnant wife, and their two children and has claimed that it was to be with his mistress and girlfriend – that is a tough watch once you know the background to the case. For yourself, the video seems to be as equally as important as the song.

Yes. The concept that I have for myself, and the music, is that every single song is a story, and that story deserves a video as well. I think that it needs both combined to actually get what I am trying to say in the song. The video for ‘Chris Watts’ was created during the lockdown and fitted the mood that I had during that time. Also, every single song has a different vibe to it, had a song about ‘Chris Watts’ been upbeat like ‘Tyler Hadley’ then you would have been like “What the fuck?!”.

In some places, ‘Chris Watts’ is almost like a lullaby, and the video is very thought-provoking. The opening scene of Watts opening a box and it’s a new wife all wrapped up in bubble wrap is stunning, and in a sense, it’s also metaphorical for a lot of modern-day attitudes.

That’s what he [Watts] wanted to have; the old wife hadn’t acted how he wanted her to act so he wanted a new one…he ordered a new one. One is broken so you have to get a new one. Throwing away the old and getting something new is a problem in our society…just throw it away and get new stuff because we can afford everything…and I think that plays into the song. I mean, he also got rid of his children, and that’s really hard to digest. I read a book about him; ‘Letters from Christopher: The Tragic Confessions of the Watts Family Murders’, and how he tries to explain himself, and how he “found” religion and God…and I’m just like “Fuck you, you killed your own children”…it doesn’t get any worse than that, right?

It certainly doesn’t, and it’s sad to say that your subject matter will never lessen over time.

If we as humanity are not able to talk properly about mental health and maybe take it seriously if someone tells us that they are depressed or are having weird thoughts, and we brush it off and tell them to go to the gym…if there was a deeper understanding of mental health…then I don’t know…that would help.

Lastly, August 2023 SKYND headline the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock Festival, have you started planning yet?

It will be special, yes. I’m still thinking about it, I have some ideas that I want to do…especially with the colour pink.

 

Interview – Dave

SKYND’s tour with Ice Nine Kills kicks off April 28th in the Netherlands and runs through until June 14th in Germany. The UK leg takes in dates in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol, and Nottingham. More information – here.

SKYND headline Thursday night on the Sophie Lancaster big top stage at Bloodstock in August 2023, tickets are available here.

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