Sweets at XOYO – interview and gig review
Post soundcheck, pre live performance, I caught up with SWEETS at Noisy’s headline London gig at XOYO. The interview covered previous tracks, upcoming tracks, potential gigs and the direction in which Sweets’s music is going. I can safety say the chat was smooth, genuine and all in all, sweet.
You released your latest single ‘Yellow’ in April – how well was it received; how did it go down with fans?
It was the most well received thing I’ve ever released. Yeah, went down really well. I mean, it’s like more pop-y than anything I’ve ever done before. But I really, really rate it! In hindsight, at first, I thought it might have been a bit too pop-y, but I think it’s like still kind of dancey enough to be me.
So, do you think it was kind of outside your comfort zone?
You know what, it’s not. I feel my comfort zone is storytelling – I think like any genre or instrumental I’m comfortable in, as long as I’m telling the story, and ‘Yellow’ was a storytelling tune. Yeah, so I think it was it was within my comfort zone.
You’ve said before it’s about the emotions of a night-out versus the morning after. What inspired that, was it a specific night out?
Yeah. So, the chorus is “Smiling faces of my maties in the all white ford/ Last night was a sight for some eyes so sore/ Then the sun rose”. And I remember my boy pulled up to pick me up in his car, to bring us to this night out, and I remember seeing his car and being like on top of the world that he was there. Everyone was in the car, and I got such a warm welcome… and then I remember leaving the afterparty at like 10am, and getting in the same car, and hating the car.
So it was a proper true story…
Yeah, and it all came from the first line because it goes “I was in for a penny last night, now I’m in for a pound this morning”.
In terms of the storytelling, and you saying that’s kind of what you’d like to do – is that why you write music/how you got into it kind of thing?
Yeah. So, I mean, I started writing just listening to old school hip hop and stuff and it was about wordplay and stuff. And I got really obsessed with this guy, Frank Ocean, you know.
*joking* Oh yeah, the really underground artist Frank Ocean…
Yeah, you might not have heard of him ahha.
But then I started looking into how he writes, and he says he’s a storyteller first. And music is just like a vehicle for storytelling. And I’ve always loved storytelling – it was the only f**king thing I could do at school – and then I realised that as I started writing, the stories were just happening. And all of my best songs are stories, or like really conceptual. So I think that’s just where I feel most comfortable.
Were you good at English at school?
Hahah, that’s the only thing I was good at!!! English and Drama…
You’ve got a new single coming out soon! What’s it called?
It’s called ‘Crack Baby’
What’s the inspiration behind the name?
So, it’s like the Crack Baby is a metaphor. The song sounds a bit wonky at first, but it’s kind of about the detrimental effect that social media is having on people’s mental health. And I feel bad for kids who are going to be born into social media. And for the next like, 20 years, it’s gonna be 20-year-olds whose heads are even worse than ours. So, it’s kind of like the Crack Baby is a metaphor for the kid, where this mother is getting their kid addicted to social media from a young age. It’s like satire, written from the perspective of a mother whose kids p*ssing her off, so she just keeps giving them the iPhone.
So how does it compare musically to some of your previous stuff?
So it’s like a punk song. It’s basically a punk song. It’s like really, really heavy. Really dancable to the beats? They’re heavy, heavy bass line. And then it’s like, it’s like genuine anger.
Are we going to hear it tonight?
You are – the last song!
What other new music you’re going to be releasing this year?
So, I’ve got about mixtape about 10 tunes which will be released around September/October, and three singles in the lead up. In those there’s a few more ‘Yellow’-y ones, a few more laid-back ones, but I’ve been writing a lot of punk.
You’re more recent writing has been more “punky”, why do you think there’s been a shift in your writing?
Honestly, I feel like I found my voice for the first time, like since I started shouting on the mic – it came from like a more authentic place. And it was in a more Northern accent. I’ve always found myself like neutralising my accent a little bit when I’m rapping. But when I’m shouting and when I’m being angry, it just comes out naturally. Like I’m from Newcastle, so I think it’s more authentic, it feels like me… And I think I’m angry about a lot of things.
How do you find the North in comparison to London, which has previously been the core music bubble?
I’d say you feel a bit more like invisible in London. Like I’d say the people are friendlier, more personable in the North. I don’t know, I haven’t spent too much time in London. But I’m still not really comfortable here yet, like I still feel like a grain of sand. But when I’m up North I feel at home.
How was your headline at Night and Day last week?
Yeah, it was good. It was like a lot of familiar faces and a lot of people were singing back the words to me, which means a lot!
And how does today’s gig supporting Noisy compare to your headline last week?
Well, this is just a really cool! This is the first London show I’ve played which I didn’t realise until about an hour ago. So it’s just like cool to know that I’m expanding; being someone from Newcastle, it always seemed a bit like far-fetched to be playing in London – and this just seems like the real world, so it just means a lot to us that people think that the music’s good enough to be down here.
Is this your biggest gig?
I’ve been on for one song at Victoria Warehouse in manny – that was terrifying! That was with Luke Royalty, who’s also one of my best friends.
Do you prefer to headline or support?
I think I prefer, so far, supporting you know – because it feels like less pressure. I like performing to a room full of strangers and like winning people over. And yeah, it is not as stressful…
What gigs and festivals would you like to play over the next couple of months and rest of 2022?
So, we’ve been in talks about potentially performing in Europe, which would be crazy, and would mean so much.
I’d also love to support Everyone You Know again, and do some festivals up North – hopefully Leeds in the city, Liverpool sound city, Neighbourhood in Manchester… that’d be mad
What’s your dream/bucket-list gig?
My dream bucket-list gig is Camp Flog Gnaw – its Tyler the Creators festival!
Finally, what’s the inspiration behind the name Sweets?
So!! My name originally was Sweet Connector, which is a Newcastle term for when a punch connects really well. But then I kind of changed it. I think Sweet Connector could play well outside of Newcastle, but I just changed it to Sweets; and I quite like Sweets as well, because especially when we are making punky music, it sounds really sweet and cute. It’s kind of a nice juxtaposition.
SWEETS opened the night at XOYO in London, supporting headliner NOISY. Kicking off with weighty beats and an almost dystopian atmosphere, he successfully warmed up the crowd for the entirety of the evening. The set lasted 30 minutes but flew by, playing tracks including ‘Ashtray Cowboy’ and ‘Black eye’, before slowing down the pace with ‘All My Heroes’ – a deep track with reference to his friends and the struggles of mental health. Following on with latest release ‘Yellow’. The alt-pop, electro-based, synth sound stood out from the rest of the set, but again was well received, before resuming back to the heavier beats and rap of ‘Credits’. He finished the set with upcoming release ‘Crack Baby’, leaving us itching for the release. From jumping into the crowd during his set and encouraging attendees to get involved, Sweets showed off his more punk side, along with his deep gratitude and appreciation for the fans in between songs – this plays into the juxtaposition we spoke about before the show. The insane set ended with bags of signed sweets flying into the audience; clearly a thought-out concept. Most definitely a worthwhile gig and I highly recommend you get yourself down to a set in the near future.
You can find Sweets on Instagram @sweetconnector for gig updates and news on the release of ‘Crack Baby’.