Interview: Skysketch

skysketch interview

Photo by Serdar Genç

One of the best things about running a music blog is that feeling of finding something special. When you find a new artist that you love, when you hear a song or album that just blows you away, that’s one of the best feelings in the world and one that I’m lucky enough to experience on a regular basis. Turkish band Skysketch are the latest such discovery, with their stunning concept album Fox Wedding securing a place as one of the standout releases of the year. I chatted with the band to find out more about their brilliant debut record: 

Thanks for your time! You’ve just released your debut album Fox Wedding, are you happy with the way it turned out?

Thank you for your extremely kind thoughts on our album and the interview opportunity. We’re actually quite happy to be able to release the record because it’s been two years since we started working on it, and it feels great to unleash it and receive feedback of any kind, especially like yours.

The album tells a story adapted from Japanese folklore. What was it that drew you to this tale as the basis for your first record?
We founded Skysketch in 2005 under a different name, when we were all about thirteen years old. So it’s fair to say we grew up together and one of our common interests was the cultural products of Japan. We were all watching anime, reading manga and listening to Japanese music a lot. Then in 2016, the movie ‘Dreams’ by Akira Kurosawa was on our table and we kind of started building ideas around it and realised we could imagine the story’s untold part and combine with our vision of today’s world and its war-ruled climate. And when you put the childhood theme at the centre of your narrative, the counterpart emerges. And that’s how we created a contradiction while telling our story: the simplicity and boldness of childhood versus the realness and the dull routine of adulthood.

When writing the album did you have the story in place first and write the music around it, or did you already have a few musical ideas floating around that you adapted to fit the narrative?
The whole idea started with us imagining a tune for the Kurosawa’s dream and the Japanese folk tale about foxes. After we put out a rough demo for the title track, it felt really promising so we decided to follow this idea. So before composing anything musically we went and complete the story, actually the two story arcs running simultaneously, and then started to write music around the sections of the story, by taking the characters, the events and the emotions into consideration.

Who would you say are your biggest musical influences for this album?
We really differ from each other both characteristically and musically so we all drew inspiration from various things and bring it to the table for sharing and inspiring each other. Although there’s a long list of individual inspirations for the music we’re making, collectively we were listening to Everything Everything’s 2015 record Get to Heaven a lot at the time, along with the other artists like Mew, Radiohead and Alt-J.

As well as the striking cover, you also have artwork accompanying each song to provide a visual element to the story. Where did this idea come from and who is the artist behind it?
As the writing process progressed, we realised that the story we’re telling is becoming more and more complex to follow. So we’ve decided that we’d support the story with some visual elements and add another layer to it, to make listeners see that world as we imagined it. All thirteen drawings including the album cover were drawn by talented Turkish illustrator Ethem Onur Bilgiç.

Between the atmosphere of the music and the gorgeous artwork that goes with it, Fox Wedding is such an immersive experience that at times you feel like you’re living the story. If you could spend a day living in any fictional story, any fictional world, what would it be?
This one’s actually pretty hard to answer since we have spent and still spending a lot of time in fictional worlds. There are many mutual answers we could give but I guess we’re going to go with Paprika’s fictional setting, another great Japanese movie by the late director Satoshi Kon.

You’re currently based in Istanbul, and I’m curious about how you would describe the city’s music scene?
Well, to be honest it’s kind of hard to be positive about the art and music scenes in Istanbul, in Turkey even, since it’s not as colourful as it was ten years ago because of the stressful lifestyles we’re obliged to endure. There are brilliant artists who are giving everything to create and present original products, while there also are copycats, like in every other scene, just applying the carbon copy formula in terms of making art. But the common point of these people are that they are all struggling. Turkey’s been in a shitty situation for a while now: the political climate, the terrorist attacks, and recently the economic crisis effects (and sometimes fuels) the art scene profoundly.

Now that you’ve shared your debut album with the world, what do you have planned for the rest of 2018?
We’re planning to spend the summer boosting the album on every possible platform, both in our country and overseas, releasing a little story book serving the album’s narrative, holding an exhibition for the album artwork in our hometown, and finally rehearsing for the local gigs. And we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a few concerts abroad.

Massive thanks to Skysketch for their time. Their debut album Fox Wedding is out now!