In a world were there are so many bands to keep track of I want to bring my two cents in presenting you to this interview with SICK SAD WORLD. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
A band name sets the tone for the band. With the right name you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-That’s definitely the case! Today there are so many groups and musical consumption is such, that the public needs to very quickly understand whom you are and what sort of music you produce. Using your name, your visuals, your album covers and your biography, you must provide comprehensive information.
Paradoxically, our group name was chosen at a time where we had a musical style quite different to that which we currently offer. We were more of a punk-metal crossover, and the name “Sick Sad World” was rather cynical. It came from a fictional TV news broadcast seen in the cartoon Daria on MTV. Little by little our sound darkened and the name became more literal.
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-Our main references are groups like Cult of Luna, Envy, Amen Ra or The Ocean. If one looks back further the lineage comes from Neurosis, and if one goes even further back than that, all metal groups come from Black Sabbath. But since we have a strong ambient side, one could say that Pink Floyd is a more influential reference than most “classic” metal groups.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-No, that doesn’t change anything. What really matters is the transition between parts. We like to create contrasts. If you’re constantly pushing a big sound, this can become annoying and the violence end up petering out. When you make use of quiet sections and you manage the transitions well, the violent parts become even stronger.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-Well, as I mentioned in the previous response, the risk with live performances is failing to work perfectly together, particularly on the transitions and impacts, and thus losing the aforementioned contrast. One adapts to the venues and conditions. In a nice space with good acoustics and an attractive stage, our live performances are very close to the album recordings. We use videos as a stage background to further play with ambiance. On the other hand, in a bar or a venue that’s less well equipped, we stick to playing the most violent tracks and focusing on maximising our energy.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-For more and more groups, the question of the need for a label is definitely an important one today. We can do part of their job ourselves but having a label allows us to have a different visibility, to benefit from their network and to have more media feedback and good counsel. All this is complementary to the work we do on our side. Regarding musical accessibility, what bothers me the most is that with streaming platforms like Deezer and Spotify, or YouTube, people no longer listen to an entire album, no longer enter the universe nor listen on repeat to a full album as we once did with CDs. Today you listen to a track in a mixed playlist, you skip, you forget group names that you’ve listened to. You no longer listen to a full album, it’s a shame.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-I’ve already spoken a bit of this before. True fans have not been lost, in my opinion. They follow you and it’s these ones who make the effort to listen to everything. Those that have been lost are rather the ordinary music consumers. Those who listen to “everything and nothing”. I hate this response when I ask somebody what music they listen to: “I listen to everything”. Okay, so you listen to nothing in fact, you have no strong opinion, no clear tastes, you just consume.
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-A good cover is a cover that allows someone to instantly understand into what universe you will carry the listener away to, what sound or ambiance you’re proposing. Of course aesthetics are important, and graphic design, which is obviously a personal taste. On the other hand, I think it’s important to not try too hard to create fashionable cover art, as fashions change constantly.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-No, I don’t feel like we are part of the French metal scene. The groups that find success in France are mostly crap. There are exceptions like Gojira, Celeste, Year of No Light, Alcest… but the metal scene in France is mostly rather lame alternative metal. France isn’t a metal country, even though we are lucky enough to host Hellfest. Over here you will never see a metal group in the top sales, no groups are ever shown on television and very few radio stations play metal.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-Financially, streaming is a nightmare. It’s still better than illegal downloads, but it’s not at all worthwhile compared to CDs. Also, I don’t like the fact that people can listen to our album with the bad sound quality of a mobile phone after we’ve worked hard to create that sound. But we can’t do anything about that.
All groups say the same thing. We realize that we are selling fewer and fewer CDs during concerts, mostly just merch. We started questioning our methods for getting our music out there. Will we continue to release physical discs or only digital to save money? Will we release full albums or just regularly upload one or two tracks to the platforms? This is a current reflection. We discuss it as a group but we have not yet come to a conclusion. Either you accept that the world changes and you change with it, or you continue to do as you prefer, but in the latter case you need to defend your choice and pray that your public follows you.
What lies in the future?
-As I said, we might change our way of doing things and release lone titles rather than spending 4 years working on an album like before. I’m not sure, for the moment we are still involved in “Imago Clipeata” even though it came out 7 months ago. The promo continues, we play it live in concert. We will take things as they come.