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 53)
Mount Kisco, New York, U.S.
GenresPsychedelic folk
Psychedelic rock
Alt country
Years active1999–present
LabelsBurn Burn Burn Records
Fargo Records
Barsuk Records
Southern Lord
Station Grey
Associated actsThe Sweet Hereafter
Sunn O)))
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.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Sykes was born in Mount Kisco, New York,[2] and grew up in Pound Ridge, New York.[3] An obsession with Lynyrd Skynyrd drove her to purchase her first guitar at age 12.[4] Sykes earned a BFA in photography from Rhode Island School of Design.[5]

Sykes moved to Seattle in 1990 after a brief stint in New York City.[4][5] Sykes says that among her more memorable experiences in the '90s was meeting songwriter Townes Van Zandt after a Seattle show.[5]


In 1990 Sykes moved to Seattle, Washington, and began playing in bands. Sykes was formerly in the band Hominy[6] with then husband, Jim Sykes, who played guitar.[4] The band released a self-titled album in 1998 on the Ivy label.

In 1998, she met Phil Wandscher,[7] a founder of the alt-country band Whiskeytown.[6][8] 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)[9] and Eric Eagle on drums.[10]

In 1999 Sykes met producer Tucker Martine who recorded and produced the first three albums of The Sweet Hereafter.[11] 2011's "Marble Son" was produced by Sykes and Wandscher along with engineer Mell Dettmer.[12][13] There was additional recording and production on both Like, Love, Lust and the Open Halls of the Soul and Marble Son by Martin Feveyear.[14] 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.[5] The same year the band signed with Paris-based label Fargo.[15] 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"[16] and was featured on NPR's All Things Considered.[6] 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."[9]

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."[17] The band played the Roskilde musical festival in Denmark in 2004. In 2005, Conor Oberst, a fan of the band,[18] invited them to tour with his band Bright Eyes.[18] 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"[18] and CMJ said "a significant step forward for Sykes as a torchbearer of masterful mourning."[19] The band then toured with Sparklehorse.[20] 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".[21] Sadly, Mark Linkous died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound in 2010.[22] 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.[23] The song, "Birds Of Passerine" on Marble Son was written by Sykes for Mark Linkous after his death.[24]

In 2008 the band toured with Earth[25] and Black Mountain.[26] In 2009 Sykes and Wandscher wrote and recorded original music for The Seattle Shakespeare Company's performance of "The Tempest".[27][28]

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.[29] The festival was curated by the film director Jim Jarmusch.[30] 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.[31] On this night a power outage occurred, lasting forty-five minutes.[31] In order to preserve power, Altar was performed in the dark.[32] 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".[33] Sykes said she drew inspiration for the song from author Joan Didion’s widow’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking.[34] Pitchfork called The Sinking Belle "Altars centerpiece and masterpiece".[35]

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".[36] Spin called it "a sprawling psyche rock vision."[37][38][39][40]

Personal life[edit]

Sykes was previously married to musician Jim Sykes. She was in a 10-year relationship with Sweet Hereafter bandmate, Phil Wandscher.[41]

Sykes is currently living in Iowa.[12]



"spellbound music, rapt in fatalism and sorrow."
-Jon Pareles, The New York Times[16]


  • 2008: Gentleness Of Nothing EP (Fargo)[42]
  • 2009: The Tempest EP (self-released)[43]


  • 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).[44] 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[45]
  • 2005: Song Reckless Burning on soundtrack to movie 12 and Holding[46]
  • 2006: Song Troubled Soul on soundtrack to the film First snow[47]
  • 2008: Song The Dreaming Dead on HBO's True Blood Strange Love[48]
  • 2008: Song Troubled Soul on soundtrack to the Belgium film Eldorado[49][50]
  • 2012: Song Come To Mary on soundtrack to the film Path Of Souls[51]



  1. ^ MacNeil, Jason. "Jesse Sykes – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  2. ^ Sykes, Jesse (18 Apr 2012). "Selective Exposure". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  3. ^ Sykes, Jesse (13 June 2012). "From Cripple Creek to Pound Ridge". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Levin, Hannah (18 Oct 2001). "Blue-toned and Beautiful". The Stranger. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e Stout, Gene (10 Feb 2005). "Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter are Spreading Their Wings". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Ochs, Meredith (7 July 2004). "Music Review: 'Oh, My Girl' from Jesse Sykes' Band" (Audio feature). All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  7. ^ Sykes, Jesse. "Jesse Sykes's Page". No Depression. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  8. ^ Horowitz, Joanna. "Jesse Sykes — new disc, Showbox gig". Seattle Times. Seattle Times. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  9. ^ a b Scanlon, Tom (23 Jan 2005). "Barsuk Records' roster of rising acts post-Death Cab for Cutie". Seattle Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  10. ^ Eagle, Eric. "Eric Eagle | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  11. ^ Martine, Tucker. "Tucker Martine | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  12. ^ a b Moorman, Trent (3 Aug 2011). "Sound Check Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter: Marble Son, Wrangled Chaos". The Stranger. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  13. ^ Mateer, Chris. "Jesse Sykes discusses creation of Marble Son". Uprooted Music Revue. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  14. ^ Feveyear, Martin. "Martin Feveyear | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  15. ^ Levine, Hannah (4 Jan 2007). "Rocka Rolla Brothers in Arms (mentions Sykes/Fargo Records)". The Stranger. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  16. ^ a b c Pareles, Jon (2 January 2005). "2004: The Ones That Got Away". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  17. ^ Zimmerman, Lee (3 Feb 2005). "Tangled Up in Blue". Miami New Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  18. ^ a b c Bailey, Noah W. (1 Feb 2007). "Blue Norther". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  19. ^ "Best New Music". CMJ New Music Monthly (145). Jan 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Sparklehorse Announces North American Tour Mark "Sparklehorse" Linkous is set to take Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter on the road with him". SPIN. 2 Jan 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  21. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (2 March 2007). "Everything Crumbles Toward Eternities". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  22. ^ Siserio, Ben (8 March 2010). "Mark Linkous, Leader of Sparklehorse Band, Dies at 47". New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  23. ^ Sykes, Jesse (12 Dec 2012). "It's a Wonderful Life". Seattle Weekly. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  24. ^ Kaston, Roy (21 Nov 2011). ""Life Has To Mirror What Goes On Sonically": An Interview with Jesse Sykes". River Front Times. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  25. ^ Barr, Brian J (24 June 2008). "Earth and the Sweet Hereafter". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  26. ^ Theissen, Brock (14 Aug 2008). "Black Mountain Announce North American Tour". Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  27. ^ ARONOWITZ, BRENT (9 June 2009). "Opening Nights: Pilot in Peril, Prospero in Pain". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  28. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Winters and Lass Will Conjure Magic in Seattle Shakespeare Company's Tempest". Playbill. Retrieved 19 April 2015. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  29. ^ Ratliff, Ben (6 September 2010). "The Best of Two Bands at All Tomorrow's Parties". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  30. ^ Breihan, Tom (20 Aug 2010). "Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch Talks ATP "I invited Bill Murray to come to ATP just to hang out."". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  31. ^ a b "Brooklyn Masonic Temple". Archived from the original on 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  32. ^ "Electrical problems & then police show up". 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  33. ^ Grow, Kory (Nov 2006). "CMJ New MUSIC Monthly, Beast Meets West, BORIS Brings Their Monster Doom To SunnO)))'s Studios". CMJ. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  34. ^ a b Levine, Hannah (3 Aug 2011). "The Break-Up Artists Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter bust out of alt-country. Hard". Willamette Week. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  35. ^ Currin, Grayson (31 Oct 2006). "Sunn O))) & Boris Altar, Pitchfork Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  36. ^ Oinonen, Janne (11 May 2011). "Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son Review". The Line Of Best Fit. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  37. ^ Menconi, David (2 Aug 2011). "Spin Reviews \ Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, 'Marble Son' (Station Grey)". Spin Magazine. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  38. ^ Dremousis, Litsa (2 Aug 2011). "Might As Well Jump". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  39. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (5 August 2011). "Psychedelia of Many Colors, Doo-Wop in Bluesy Shades". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  40. ^ Hardy, Tony (27 July 2011). "Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son". Consequence of Sound.
  41. ^ Cole, Kevin (15 September 2011). "Jesse Sykes: The Beautiful Sound Of Struggle" (Audio interview and in-studio performance). KEXP-FM. NPR. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  42. ^ "Obscure Sound (gentleness of no)thing review)". Obscure Sound. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  43. ^ "Seattle Shakespeare Company's The Tempest, Original music score by Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher". Seattle Shakespeare Company. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  44. ^ "Split 7 inch Jesse Sykes/Steve Turner". KEXP. kexp. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  45. ^ "Jack and Bobby (soundtrack credits)". IMBD. IMBD. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  46. ^ "12 and Holding (2005) Soundtracks". IMDb. 2005. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  47. ^ "First Snow (sound track credit)". IMBD. IMBD. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  48. ^ "True Blood (soundtrack credits)". IMBD. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  49. ^ Holden, Stephen (1 May 2009). "Two Men on the Road, Together and Yet Alone (movie review)". New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  50. ^ Levy, Emanuel (7 July 2008). "Eldorado: Interview with Director Bouli Lanners (mentions jesse sykes music in his film)". Emanuel levy Cinema 24/7. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  51. ^ "Path of Souls (film soundtrack credits)". IMBD. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  52. ^ Vienne, Gisele. "Eternelle Idole (play) directed by Gisele Vienne, music credits" (PDF). Eternelle Idole (play). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  53. ^ "Seattle Shakespeare Company (credits)". Seattle Shakespeare Company. Retrieved 19 April 2015.

External links[edit]