Volume 93, Issue 14
Wednesday, September 22, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Sky ascends to zenith heights
Photo by Bryce Duffy
I DON'T CARE HOW LONG YOU STARE AT ME, I WILL NOT MAKE OUT WITH YOU. Antoine and James of Sky talk about their music and their success. Look for the Canadian duo tomorrow night at the MuchMusic Video Awards.
By Michael Murphy
For most bands, the release of a major label debut is approached with modest expectations. Early dreams of multiple hit singles and award nominations, many first-timers learn, are little more than pie in the sky.
However, a rule is not a rule without an exception and the Montreal-based duo Sky have turned out to be just that. In fact, on the merits of their 1998 EMI debut, Piece of Paradise, Sky has won a big piece of the pie the Canadian record sales pie, that is.
So far, the album has yielded two hit singles and is approaching double platinum sales figures in Canada. "It's been a fun journey," Antoine states, who, like his counterpart James, dispenses with his surname. "It's only the beginning to making things happen, but we're really happy with how things have gone so far."
Antoine and James first met in 1992 at a Montreal music production school. The two became roommates and soon discovered that by crossbreeding their artistic sensibilities, they could produce beautiful, bouncing musical offspring. "The overall sound is [a] fusion of funk, pop, hip hop, soul, R&B," Antoine explains, "It can be pretty complex."
Having honed their creative craft through several years of live-in collaboration, they approached the production of their first big CD with a well-defined sense of their shared art.
"We had been working a long time on the vision we had of our music," Antoine says. "And we were really satisfied with Piece of Paradise as a realization of that vision."
Probably the most important upcoming date on Sky's calendar is Sept. 23, when they will be performing live at the MuchMusic Video Awards and if things go well, taking home a few trophies, too. The band has been nominated for seven awards, including Best Video and the People's Choice for Favourite Canadian Group.
According to Antoine, division of labour in the group is fairly clear cut frontman James devises lyrics and melodies, leaving Antoine free to concentrate on bass lines and drum tracks. "The groove is really my thing," he says. "James has got a good mind for lyrics and melody, I mostly handle the bottom end of the music."
Antoine stresses his influences span a variety of disparate genres which in turn inform his own work. "Growing up, there was always a lot of black music in my house," he states. "I grew up listening to a lot of soul and R&B, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and other artists like that. But I was also really into '80s music like Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys, so there's a lot that really influenced me."
For their next studio effort, Antoine says he'd like to see Sky's music evolve, perhaps through the incorporation of more rock 'n roll sounds. "I'd like to get back to more distorted guitar on the next album," he confesses. "That's something we didn't really use on Piece of Paradise. I really like Garbage and Butch Vig and the kind of things they do with electric guitar[s]."
As for future aspirations, Antoine emphasizes a desire to gain footholds and listeners in other countries. "We've been successful in Canada," he says. "But we're also working hard to get fans elsewhere. It's almost like every country is a challenge."
Having scored a debut coup, it's easy to understand why the two Montrealers are expecting even greater successes. And who can blame them? For now at least, the sun is shining and there's not a cloud in the sky.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999