The second album from San Diego "sasscore" foursome SeeYouSpaceCowboy documents a dark period for frontwoman Connie Sgarbossa. Saturated in themes of addiction, obsession, finding beauty and redemption, 'The Romance Of Affliction' is a struggle through adversity that very nearly culminated in tragedy with a drug overdose not long after they left the studio.
"Writing music is cathartic to me," she explains. "Getting things on paper is the only way I know how to deal with stuff. So to have that happen two weeks later almost backed up why I wrote the album – it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It reinforced that I wrote the album that I needed to write."
As bold and uncensored as you'd expect, it's an exorcism of sorts - and the start of a whole new chapter.
Hello Connie! How are you doing? What are you up to today?
I am doing okay, currently doing some creative director work for the visual aspects of the band's release while simultaneously trying to get ready for tour, haha.
You've got a new album about to land, when did you start putting it together? Were you having to work remotely at the time?
We started working on it when we realised that it might be quite a bit until we could tour again around the beginning of the quarantine stuff in April 2020. At the time, we were going through lineup changes, but most of us were living in San Diego, so we did remote but the three of us at the time (me, Ethan, and Taylor) also met up to work things out or do pre-production for vocals and such.
Did you have any specific aims going into it?
We wanted to bring back the mentality that kinda drove SYSC in the beginning, which was the idea of just kinda putting everything that we liked or wanted to hear into a blender and making it work somehow. So we really wanted to bring back the sassy and weirder parts that were absent from our last LP but felt essential to us and also merge them with the more emotional side and melodic as well as pretty aspects we wanted to play around with like clean singing and more atmosphere to create something that was true to the point of SYSC as well as pushing ourselves and our sound.
How did putting this one together compare to working on your debut? It sounds like you were going through a lot personally?
This LP was definitely made in a vastly different way than 'Correlations' was. First off, we worked on writing this thing for like a year, versus the two and a half weeks we took to write 'Correlations'. On our debut, we were working hard to try to make enough music to justify an LP, whereas, for this one, we wrote 30 songs and had to try to figure out which should go on and which shouldn't. This LP was also way more of a group effort; in the past, it was usually just one person writing, and that was what it was. But this one, we went over every song together and pretty much each contributed to every song with ideas and such. When it came to writing the vocals for 'Correlation' it was very much a reactionary response to the tragedy that had just happened in my life. This album was done in the aftermath... More so while I was struggling to put my life back together and deal with the fallout, my addiction, mental health problems. It serves as more of a diary of what it was and has been like to come to terms with myself and what has happened since my world seemed to shatter. How I have treated myself, how I have treated others, and how there really still isn't a resolution to it all to this day.
What is it about making music in particular that you find so cathartic?
I honestly don't know how to explain it. There is something that just feels good about writing and screaming into the void. Something about being able to express myself in a myriad of ways... from anger to sadness, to sassy, to loving, to sexual, to confused, whatever I may be feeling, I can just put it into this form of expression that lifts the weight off a bit. It's not a cure-all by any means, but it's something when it feels like you don't have anything.
Have you dabbled in other art forms too?
Yeah, my entire life, I have done visual art as well. Being a graphic designer/creative director for other bands is how I pay my bills, so doing cover art, vinyl layout, aesthetic development, merch designs, conceptual work for music videos and such. I consider myself more of an artist than a musician cause I really don't know much about music other than how to be obnoxious, haha.
How did you approach curating the album's tracklisting?
That was something that our producer Isaac Hale from Knocked Loose helped immensely with, since like I said earlier, we went to him with 30 songs and had to figure out how to make an album out of it. For me personally, my biggest thing was I just wanted to make sure it ran the gambit of the emotional spectrum, and really kinda showcased the variety that we had because that variety represented our lives and what we were trying to express.
You've got a few notable guest appearances across the release - Keith Buckley, Aaron Gillespie and the like. How did they come about? At what point in the songs' creation did people get involved?
All the guest spots were all done super last minute except for the If I Die First one, which was conceptualised and recorded right when we started writing. They just came about from someone throwing the idea out while we were doing the final pre-production with Isaac or while we were in the studio. Some parts we wrote for the individual, and some we just gave them a section and the theme of the song and said, "have at it".
What else are you working on at the moment?
As a band, we have something cooking up that I am really excited about, that I can't really talk about... Mostly, we are just getting prepared for all the tours we have lined up and kinda getting back into the swing of things. For me personally, I am playing around with some collaborations and the possibility of a little side project and then just doing what I love, which is art for projects/bands that aren't my own, haha.
Taken from the December / January issue of Upset. SeeYouSpaceCowboy's album 'The Romance Of Affliction' is out now.
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