The dark industrial/electronic duo of SKYND provide chilling tales of true crime cases in musical form, and the identity of both members Skynd and Father have remained a mystery to this day.
With their debut EP Chapter 1 already out (including a feature from Korn's Jonathan Davis), Chapter 2 is on the way with some new true crime stories to learn about. When is it coming out? Nobody knows - but that's what makes the project so fun.
We jumped on the phone with the vocalist only known as Skynd to talk about her fascination with true crime, her ties to Australia and more! Read on for the full chat:
Hey SKYND, firstly some congratulations are in order - one EP under your belt and you've already collaborated with Jonathan Davis, opened for Rob Zombie and played Download Festival. That must feel surreal!
It is! We weren't really prepared for that...of course we believe in our music and that we're making great music - but that everyone else is feeling that way is hard to prepare for. I don't know, it's really something I have yet to digest.
So with Download being your first festival ever, was it a good experience overall?
It was amazing, and actually kind of emotional for me because there were like ten or fifteen people at the front all dressed up like SKYND or wearing the makeup, and it was like "wow, they really took their time to do my makeup!".
And when I'm wearing in-ears I don't really hear what the audience is singing, so I watched videos and I heard everyone singing along to my songs, and that was really emotional for me to be honest. It was so great, and it's hard to find the right words to really describe it.
Your latest video for 'Jim Jones' has an insane level of visual detail and had us picking up new things each time we watched it. How much planning does it take to bring something like that to life?
You know...I'm a very visual person so when I do my research, I read a lot. So while I'm researching these cases, I'm already thinking of a way to visualise that song. For Jim Jones it was really hard because it's such a brutal case. Over a thousand people died and 300 of them were kids, and that made it really hard for me to show that in a video.
I wanted it to be aesthetic but not too brutal - I don't know if you've ever heard the 40-minute tape of Jim Jones talking his followers into suicide, but I had a different idea before I heard that audio tape. After I heard it I was just so shocked...I was really sad, I cried listening to that tape. There's a thin line between respect and disrespect, and I wanted to find a way to show it in an artistic way without being distasteful.
So I wanted to use a lot of colours, and so the white in the video stands for the victims that died, and the red is for the cyanide poison, and the black is for the crime itself.
You do a good job of educating people about these horrendous acts of humanity, but do you ever have people accusing you of glorifying the people you write your songs about?
Actually no, because I made myself really clear from the beginning - I always said I'm not glorifying serial killers or glorifying inhumane cruelties - all I'm doing is not turning a blind eye on these crimes because it's history, it happened.
You know, what makes me a bit mad is when people think I'm a satanist or something. Every filmmaker making a movie like a song, like say, a horror movie...nobody is telling them "oh you're a satanist, you're a bad person". They tell me I am because I sing about it but what's the big difference? I don't have people saying these things but they do say I'm a satanist because I have pale skin and I don't like that.
I'm actually really surprised that people really got it though. I thought I'd have to explain it more often, but people understand it and I think that means Father and I have done a good job with the songs.
What do you think about music and musicians being used as a scapegoat for various crimes, like Marilyn Manson with the Columbine shootings for example?
I mean Marilyn Manson was right - just because the Columbine dudes listened to his music it doesn't make him the bad guy. They were listening to his art, I mean he can't tell people "don't listen to my music if you're a bad person", that's insane.
And of course I believe people who have weird ideas of creating their life and listening to my music...I mean they could have listened to anything. It's really hard to blame the artist for it because it's not their decision.
What I'm saying is to keep your inner animal tamed by expressing yourself through art, music, drawings - I don't care. Just don't be a killer, don't be a murderer. Just tame your inner animal, because it happens all the time and I think we should learn from history because it's happened before and it keeps happening.
They're still searching for excuses like "oh, the Columbine dudes were listening to Marilyn Manson" - like, what the fuck is that kind of reason? They were bad dudes and that's why they did it. So no, I really don't like that.
Do you find that immersing yourself in this subject matter can affect you mentally or have you become desensitised from it all?
I get asked this one a lot and no, I had this interest in true crime because of my imaginary friend who showed up when I was like four years old, and he taught me that there is not only good in the world but there is also bad. So he was the one showing me the bad side of the world, and he got me interested in true crime.
Before I started writing about it, I had this weird feeling in my stomach when I was watching documentaries and reading books, and he told me "why don't you write about it?". So to this day it's been a therapy for me to get it off my chest. It's interesting but sometimes it's hard to digest it.
There was a case last year where Chris Watts murdered his wife and two kids, like he strangled his wife and smothered his children - it was such a horrible crime and I had to write about it to get it off my chest, because sometimes it freaks me out how bad people can be.
But that comes with my interest. It makes me feel bad, I have to write about it, I feel better - and I think that's all I'm living for.
Are you planning on writing any songs about Australian true crime like Ivan Milat or Katherine Knight?
I am...I know some Australian killers, and you will know when Chapter 2 comes out. I can't really talk about it...yes, I investigated a few crimes...but you will know. Australian people will be really happy!
SKYND has always been a project shrouded in secrecy, but we do know that you have some ties to Australia. Any chance you could shed some light on that?
Well I met Father [SKYND's other member] in Australia, and we started making music together in Australia - but that's the only light I can shed on that mystery.
We're really happy we met in Australia; we met at a party and Father was sitting on a boulder and rocking back and forth and it was super weird, so I had to get to know that guy. I looked at him and I was like "I know you"...somehow there was just a familiar connection. So I sat next to him and we talked and felt the connection.
The next day we went to the studio and it was great. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. And it makes it really special that it happened in Australia too, that makes the country really special to me.
What does the rest of the year look like for SKYND?
We will be continuing to write new songs of course, and we're going to play Wacken on August 2 which is just huge and it makes me a bit nervous, but this is what we do now. We're working on a new chapter...of course which I can't talk about (laughs).
Thanks for talking to us, and hopefully we'll have you out here for some shows soon!
Thank you, I really really hope so too!
Listen to SKYND now.