Skye Sweetnam Biography
Meet Skye Sweetnam. She’s a girl who could be the kid next door. Like a lot of girls her age, she’s into cute boys, hip clothes, snowboarding, writing poetry and the color pink. In other words, she’s as typical as they come—except that she’s also a gifted singer and songwriter with a sparkling personality and a dynamic, high-energy stage presence. And she just loves to rock out! Noise From The Basement is her Capitol Records debut.
Skye is a true original, but she's also a worthy successor to the female rockers who came before her. Imagine the spunk of a 16-year-old Pat Benatar, add a dash of Joan Jett's in-your-face attitude and finish with a splash of Debbie Harry's earthy sexiness and you'll get the idea. In fact, Skye breathes new, sultry life into the Blondie classic "Heart of Glass" on Noise From The Basement. Her high spirits and playful personality are also unmistakable on other tracks like “Tangled Up In Me,” the album’s sassy first single, the girl-powered anthem “Number One” and the sweetly rebellious “Billy S.,” which bowed last summer on the How To Deal soundtrack and earned Skye the #1 video on Canada’s YTV. This isn’t rock through the eyes of a songwriter trying to sound young—this is pure teen spirit straight from the source.
Skye’s road to stardom began in a tiny, sub-suburb of Toronto called Bolton, (population 15,000), a really terrific place to raise a kid, but not such a cool place to be one. “Bolton doesn’t have a movie theater and the nearest mall is at least a 30-minute drive,” explains Skye, whose parents named her after Scotland’s Isle of Skye. “I didn’t grow up hanging out at the mall. Mostly, you’d invite your friends over and entertain yourself.”
To keep herself entertained, Skye took vocal and dance lessons. She performed in school plays. She shot self-portraits, filmed her own stop-action movies, learned guitar and piano, designed clothes, drew cartoons, and began making demo tapes of her songs at age 12.
Eventually, one of those tapes fell into the hands of James Robertson—a then 21-year-old shredder guitarist, bass player and keyboardist. Before long, the duo found themselves spending a few nights a week in the basement of James’ parents’ home experimenting and inventing new music. “I take inspiration from everything,” says Skye, who co-wrote every track on the album except the Blondie cover. “Anything that attracts my interest and is cool is good.”
Without any boundaries or rules to restrain her creativity, Skye tapped into influences as varied as rock, pop-punk, electronica and horror movie themes—sometimes in the same song. This inventive mix resulted in a signature sound that’s fresh, original, accessible and above all, totally rocking. “We weren’t forcing ourselves to write, but just looking for that cool vibe,” Skye explains. “We were playing and just being spontaneous.”
Among those spontaneous creations was “Billy S.,” an ode to William Shakespeare—sort of. It’s more about a kid faced with an early morning school bus ride, condescending teachers and a play by the boring old Bard. “You know, I don’t actually hate Shakespeare,” Skye says. “I just wrote that song one day when I was feeling rebellious and pissed off at school.”
Since coming up from the basement and being signed by Capitol Records, Skye has also had the opportunity to record a couple of songs in a studio setting—“Tangled Up In Me” (the album’s first single) and “Number One.”
“‘Tangled Up In Me’ is a quirky song about a girl who’s so caught up in herself and playing hard to get that she’s pushing away the guy she likes,” says Skye, who co-wrote the song with fellow Capitol recording artist Aslyn. Skye recorded the song at two legendary Hollywood studios—Sunset Sound and the Capitol Records studio.
“I was really used to doing stuff in the basement, using what we had, but it was a really cool experience to see how it’s done traditionally,” recalls Skye.
For “Number One,” Skye went into the studio with producer Eric Valentine (Good Charlotte, Smashmouth, Third Eye Blind). “It was awesome to work with Eric,” she says. “I love the way “Number One” turned out. To me, that song is about running away from my typical teenage life and swearing I’m going to be #1 someday.”
Clearly, Skye is well on her way. She recently opened for Britney Spears on the Onyx Hotel Tour! It’s no surprise that Skye has taken to arena stages like a fish to water. “Sometimes I’m nervous before I go on, but as soon as the music starts I’m just excited to be there,” she says. “Now it’s like oxygen—I need it to live! There’s nothing I love more than rocking out with my band.”
Skye’s also had a lot of exposure on The N, the nighttime network for teens, owned by MTV. She was tapped to sing the theme song for “Radio Free Roscoe,” The N’s edgy half-hour series about the misadventures of four high school freshmen who run an underground radio station, and made her acting debut on the show as well.
Of course, coming out into the light also means confronting the labels and comparisons to other artists. In Skye’s case, it’s often comparisons to a “complicated” young rocker who also hails from a tiny Canadian town. “I don’t care if people want to compare me to Avril Lavigne,” Skye says. “ But James and I were rocking when pop was still big and nobody had ever heard of her.”
To head off the skeptics, Skye penned a song that addressed the labeling that routinely happens in the music biz. On “Hypocrite,” she sings: “Don’t try to label me hypocrite, I will do what I want to.” It’s a promise she means to keep. “There’s always someone who’s going to try to label you and put you in a box,” Skye says. “This song says that all that stuff is irrelevant because I’m still gonna be who I am no matter what you call me.”
So who is Skye Sweetnam? She’s a teenager who can be silly or serious, a girly-girl and a tomboy, a typical kid or a mature performer. “There’s a million sides to me,” says Skye. “Sometimes I’m feeling all mellow and shy, other times I feel like causing trouble and throwing snowballs at the band. Sometimes I miss parts of my old life—like hanging out with my friends—but I also love getting on stage and feeling that excitement and energy. My life is split between being a kid and an adult, but I think I have the best of both worlds.”
With Noise From The Basement, Skye establishes herself as that rare performer who can transcend the barriers of age, sex and musical genre to create a new and exciting sound all her own. She’s a special talent who promises to delight, surprise and rock out with her audience for years to come. “This album is a chapter in my life,” Skye concludes. “This is who I am and how I feel now, at this time in my life. My next album will go somewhere else because I’ll continue to change and grow.”