Jesse Sykes

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Jesse Sykes
Jesse Sykes
Jesse Sykes
Background information
Birth nameJesse Solomon
Born (1967-07-17) July 17, 1967 (age 54)
Mount Kisco, New York City
Years active1999–present
LabelsBurn Burn Burn Records
Fargo Records
Barsuk Records
Southern Lord
Station Grey
MembersJesse Sykes
Phil Wandscher
Past membersKevin Warner
Anne Marie Ruljancich
Eric Eagle
Bill Herzog

Jesse Sykes (née Solomon) (born July 17, 1967) is an American singer and songwriter, best known for her band Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, which was formed in 1999 with Phil Wandscher.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Sykes was born in Mount Kisco, New York,[4] and grew up in Pound Ridge, New York.[5] An obsession with Lynyrd Skynyrd drove her to purchase her first guitar at age 12.[6] Sykes earned a BFA in photography from Rhode Island School of Design.[7]

Sykes moved to Seattle in 1990 after a brief stint in New York City.[6][7] Sykes says that among her more memorable experiences in the '90s was meeting songwriter Townes Van Zandt after a Seattle show.[7]


In 1990 Sykes moved to Seattle, Washington, and began playing in bands. Sykes was formerly in the band Hominy[8] with then husband, Jim Sykes, who played guitar.[6] The band released a self-titled album in 1998 on the Ivy label.

In 1998, she met Phil Wandscher,[9] a founder of the alt-country band Whiskeytown.[8][10] They formed the band Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter. Members of The Sweet Hereafter included Anne Marie Ruljancich on viola, Bill Herzog on bass, Kevin Warner on drums (on first two albums)[11] and Eric Eagle on drums.[12]

In 1999 Sykes met producer Tucker Martine who recorded and produced the first three albums of The Sweet Hereafter.[13] 2011's "Marble Son" was produced by Sykes and Wandscher along with engineer Mell Dettmer.[14][15] There was additional recording and production on both Like, Love, Lust and the Open Halls of the Soul and Marble Son by Martin Feveyear.[16] The band was signed to Barsuk Records in 2003 after Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie, also a Barsuk band, heard the debut album "Reckless Burning" and brought it to the attention of label head Josh Rosenfeld.[7] The same year the band signed with Paris-based label Fargo.[17] Their follow-up album, "Oh, My Girl" was recognized by music critic Jon Pareles of the New York Times on his end of the year list of "2004 albums that deserve notice before turning the calendar page"[18] and was featured on NPR's All Things Considered.[8] The Seattle Times said; "Rolling Stone magazine called Sykes' brooding, emotionally-raw album "quiet marvels of lamentation," and "Oh, My Girl" made a handful of Top 10 of 2004 lists."[11]

According to the Miami New Times, "At this time the band spent the majority of time on the road, mostly in Europe where The Sweet Hereafter received its earliest accolades."[19] The band played the Roskilde musical festival in Denmark in 2004. In 2005, Conor Oberst, a fan of the band,[20] invited them to tour with his band Bright Eyes.[20] After the release of their third album, Like, Love, Lust and the Open Halls of the Soul, which the Dallas Observer called "her first masterpiece"[20] and CMJ said "a significant step forward for Sykes as a torchbearer of masterful mourning."[21] The band then toured with Sparklehorse.[22] The New York Times reviewed the show at New York City's Webster Hall, saying "in some ways Ms. Sykes could be a female counterpoint to Mr. Linkous" in an article titled "Everything Crumbles Toward Eternities".[23] Sadly, Mark Linkous died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound in 2010.[24] Sparklehorse was dropped from its label during the tour with the Sweet Hereafter, which Sykes described as a "bomb dropped on the Sparklehorse camp—most critically on Mark Linkous" in an article for the Seattle Weekly she authored describing her experience touring with Mark Linkous.[25] The song, "Birds Of Passerine" on Marble Son was written by Sykes for Mark Linkous after his death.[26]

In 2008 the band toured with Earth[27] and Black Mountain.[28] In 2009 Sykes and Wandscher wrote and recorded original music for The Seattle Shakespeare Company's performance of "The Tempest".[29][30]

In 2010, Sykes sang at All Tomorrow's Parties in Monticello, New York with the festival's headliner Altar, a collaborative project (as well as album name) between Sunn O))) and Boris.[31] The festival was curated by the film director Jim Jarmusch.[32] That same weekend Sykes also performed in Altar at Brooklyn's Masonic Temple. The show was opened by BXI, the collaborative project with Ian Astbury, front person of The Cult, and Boris, followed by Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter.[33] On this night a power outage occurred, lasting forty-five minutes.[33] To preserve power, Altar was performed in the dark.[34] On December 10, 2007, Sykes also performed with Altar as part of ATP at The Forum, London.

Sykes' association with Altar came about in 2006 when she had been asked by the members of Sunn O))), to write lyrics and a melody and sing over music they had created with members of Boris, for the upcoming collaborative album. Sykes named the song "The Sinking Belle".[35] Sykes said she drew inspiration for the song from author Joan Didion’s widow's memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking.[36] Pitchfork called The Sinking Belle "Altars centerpiece and masterpiece".[37]

In 2011 Marble Son was released garnering critical praise from The New York Times, Spin, Consequence of Sound, and others. The Line of Best Fit called it; "a triumph, in a word".[38] Spin called it "a sprawling psyche rock vision."[39][40][41][42]

Personal life[edit]

Sykes was previously married to musician Jim Sykes. She was in a 10-year relationship with Sweet Hereafter bandmate, Phil Wandscher.[43]



"spellbound music, rapt in fatalism and sorrow."
-Jon Pareles, The New York Times[18]


  • 2008: Gentleness Of Nothing EP (Fargo)[44]
  • 2009: The Tempest EP (self-released)[45]


  • 2002: Split 7' inch, Moon over a troubled town (Jesse Sykes) / Nothing but the blues and People take trips (Steve Turner of Mudhoney) (Burn Burn Burn).[46] Note: the labels are on the wrong sides.

Music in Film and TV[edit]

  • 2004: Song Reckless Burning The WB's Jack & Bobby, season 1, episode 11, Today I am a Man[47]
  • 2005: Song Reckless Burning on soundtrack to movie 12 and Holding[48]
  • 2006: Song Troubled Soul on soundtrack to the film First snow[49]
  • 2008: Song The Dreaming Dead on HBO's True Blood Strange Love[50]
  • 2008: Song Troubled Soul on soundtrack to the Belgium film Eldorado[51][52]
  • 2012: Song Come To Mary on soundtrack to the film Path Of Souls[53]



  1. ^ KATZIF, MIKE (April 10, 2007). "Exploring Gothic Country's Darkest Corners". NPR. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  2. ^ Staff (January 19, 2007). "Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter – Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls Of The Soul". Stereogum. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  3. ^ MacNeil, Jason. "Jesse Sykes – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  4. ^ Sykes, Jesse (April 18, 2012). "Selective Exposure". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  5. ^ Sykes, Jesse (June 13, 2012). "From Cripple Creek to Pound Ridge". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Levin, Hannah (October 18, 2001). "Blue-toned and Beautiful". The Stranger. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e Stout, Gene (February 10, 2005). "Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter are Spreading Their Wings". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Ochs, Meredith (July 7, 2004). "Music Review: 'Oh, My Girl' from Jesse Sykes' Band" (Audio feature). All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  9. ^ Sykes, Jesse. "Jesse Sykes's Page". No Depression. Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  10. ^ Horowitz, Joanna. "Jesse Sykes — new disc, Showbox gig". Seattle Times. Seattle Times. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Scanlon, Tom (January 23, 2005). "Barsuk Records' roster of rising acts post-Death Cab for Cutie". Seattle Times. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  12. ^ Eagle, Eric. "Eric Eagle | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  13. ^ Martine, Tucker. "Tucker Martine | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  14. ^ Moorman, Trent (August 3, 2011). "Sound Check Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter: Marble Son, Wrangled Chaos". The Stranger. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Mateer, Chris. "Jesse Sykes discusses creation of Marble Son". Uprooted Music Revue. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  16. ^ Feveyear, Martin. "Martin Feveyear | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  17. ^ Levine, Hannah (January 4, 2007). "Rocka Rolla Brothers in Arms (mentions Sykes/Fargo Records)". The Stranger. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  18. ^ a b c Pareles, Jon (January 2, 2005). "2004: The Ones That Got Away". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  19. ^ Zimmerman, Lee (February 3, 2005). "Tangled Up in Blue". Miami New Times. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  20. ^ a b c Bailey, Noah W. (February 1, 2007). "Blue Norther". Dallas Observer. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  21. ^ "Best New Music". CMJ New Music Monthly. No. 145. January 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  22. ^ "Sparklehorse Announces North American Tour Mark "Sparklehorse" Linkous is set to take Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter on the road with him". SPIN. January 2, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  23. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (March 2, 2007). "Everything Crumbles Toward Eternities". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  24. ^ Siserio, Ben (March 8, 2010). "Mark Linkous, Leader of Sparklehorse Band, Dies at 47". New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  25. ^ Sykes, Jesse (December 12, 2012). "It's a Wonderful Life". Seattle Weekly. Archived from the original on July 2, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  26. ^ Kaston, Roy (November 21, 2011). ""Life Has To Mirror What Goes On Sonically": An Interview with Jesse Sykes". River Front Times. Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  27. ^ Barr, Brian J (June 24, 2008). "Earth and the Sweet Hereafter". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  28. ^ Theissen, Brock (August 14, 2008). "Black Mountain Announce North American Tour". Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  29. ^ ARONOWITZ, BRENT (June 9, 2009). "Opening Nights: Pilot in Peril, Prospero in Pain". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  30. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Winters and Lass Will Conjure Magic in Seattle Shakespeare Company's Tempest". Playbill. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  31. ^ Ratliff, Ben (September 6, 2010). "The Best of Two Bands at All Tomorrow's Parties". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  32. ^ Breihan, Tom (August 20, 2010). "Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch Talks ATP "I invited Bill Murray to come to ATP just to hang out."". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  33. ^ a b "Brooklyn Masonic Temple". Archived from the original on September 18, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  34. ^ "Electrical problems & then police show up". September 8, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  35. ^ Grow, Kory (November 2006). "CMJ New MUSIC Monthly, Beast Meets West, BORIS Brings Their Monster Doom To SunnO)))'s Studios". CMJ. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  36. ^ a b Levine, Hannah (August 3, 2011). "The Break-Up Artists Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter bust out of alt-country. Hard". Willamette Week. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  37. ^ Currin, Grayson (October 31, 2006). "Sunn O))) & Boris Altar, Pitchfork Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  38. ^ Oinonen, Janne (May 11, 2011). "Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son Review". The Line Of Best Fit. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  39. ^ Menconi, David (August 2, 2011). "Spin Reviews \ Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, 'Marble Son' (Station Grey)". Spin Magazine. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  40. ^ Dremousis, Litsa (August 2, 2011). "Might As Well Jump". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  41. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (August 5, 2011). "Psychedelia of Many Colors, Doo-Wop in Bluesy Shades". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  42. ^ Hardy, Tony (July 27, 2011). "Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son". Consequence of Sound.
  43. ^ Cole, Kevin (September 15, 2011). "Jesse Sykes: The Beautiful Sound Of Struggle" (Audio interview and in-studio performance). KEXP-FM. NPR. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  44. ^ "Obscure Sound (gentleness of no)thing review)". Obscure Sound. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  45. ^ "Seattle Shakespeare Company's The Tempest, Original music score by Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher". Seattle Shakespeare Company. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  46. ^ "Split 7 inch Jesse Sykes/Steve Turner". KEXP. kexp. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  47. ^ "Jack and Bobby (soundtrack credits)". IMBD. IMBD. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  48. ^ "12 and Holding (2005) Soundtracks". IMDb. 2005. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  49. ^ "First Snow (sound track credit)". IMBD. IMBD. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  50. ^ "True Blood (soundtrack credits)". IMBD. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  51. ^ Holden, Stephen (May 1, 2009). "Two Men on the Road, Together and Yet Alone (movie review)". New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  52. ^ Levy, Emanuel (July 7, 2008). "Eldorado: Interview with Director Bouli Lanners (mentions jesse sykes music in his film)". Emanuel levy Cinema 24/7. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  53. ^ "Path of Souls (film soundtrack credits)". IMBD. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  54. ^ Vienne, Gisele. "Eternelle Idole (play) directed by Gisele Vienne, music credits" (PDF). Eternelle Idole (play). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 13, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  55. ^ "Seattle Shakespeare Company (credits)". Seattle Shakespeare Company. Retrieved April 19, 2015.

External links[edit]