Mikee or Mikey Goodman is the vocalist for the experimental band SiKth.
Hailed as an original and highly influential musician, Trebuchet has interviewed Goodman several times over the years. To the extent that what could be an adversarial or even clientelistic relationship between artist and journalist has become an even-changing exercise between two different creators swapping notes and checking progress. Of course, depending on the day, levels of competition, argument, congratulations and challenge vary. But the conversation continues…
What have you been doing? Are you taking it further? Is it still working out? and can it continue?
For the last year I’ve been doing voiceover casting and voiceover producing. This game called Disco Elysium (http://zaumstudio.com/) that worked on there were 17 different voices and casting. Also Periphery are involved as well. Voiceover work has in many ways been my main job for a long time now.
Opacities was a big EP (or mini album really) and was well received, and last we spoke SiKth where really at the start of this new stage. How has it settled since then?
I think you can call it a mini album if you like, or Big EP, either one of them works! That was probably my favourite of the SiKth releases actually. With SiKth we’re got a South Africa tour ahead of us and talking about doing America again, we get offered America quite a bit but it has to be right for us and the kind of band we are.
Is that about money or the tour?
It’s the money and time really. Because everyone has their thing; Dan Weller does his music producing, Dan Foord is a drum tutor, and I have my things as a voice over casting director which I love. On our last tour I was doing the casting stuff at the same time which was really hard to do. So I have to think about that.
It seems like you’ve always taken a nod from the more extreme Mike Patton stuff especially on Tokyo Lights (Opacities 2015)…
That’s the best vocal work I’ve done.
…and even in the famously diverse SiKth, while you love each other there is a tension there. I wonder how you managed to convince them to let you have that on the EP?
[Laughs] Well yeah sometimes have massive tension with each other. Sometimes we get on really well and for instance when we did that Australian tour we mainly got on really. Very well. But then a couple of months before on the UK tour I hated being on that tour. I hated being there. On the EP everyone was pulling in different directions.
I guess what I’m asking is that that track was really a Mikey Goodman showcase – how does it work in SiKth that you have the Freedom to do that?
I just do them. I record them and I put them on the album. They don’t have a say. No say! I can’t get anyone involved in that shit. No no no. It has to be purely for me [laughs, possibly sarcastically].
On the album we just did we had three spoken words with Dan Weller so that was different. But everyone knows that if you try and tell me what to do it doesn’t end well. In that way, creatively. If someone tries to get in your creative space… I mean, I’m not talking about music. If someone says ‘Oh I like this, but maybe you could try it more aggressive’ that’s fine but I’m in my spoken word [sic] it’s my thing. But actually we’re going to work closer together on the next album. On the last album I wrote every single vocal on the album and every single lyric. I mean, we all work completely separately from each other. We’re not like a jam band but on the next album we are going to get together and jam it out. I think it’ll be a better album.
On the last album I got lots of stuff in a demo format and then the riffs would all change at the end. It changed a lot of vocals and made me rewrite a lot of stuff and made me mad. It broke me actually, creatively broke me, lyrically broke me because it was so hard and so much pressure was put on me in the last month. So I pushed it out and at the end I felt subdued. Beaten. Empty like your batteries had gone. For about 9 or 10 months. To be honest it’s only recently that I’ve conjured this poetry from nowhere. It’s taken a long while.
SiKth has a legacy. A lot of bands now hold up your first album and say ‘This was a blueprint for us’. Last time we spoke you said ‘I don’t engage with that because what’s that to me’, but now?
It stops you in your tracks. Basically I appreciate it totally. We do a lot of meet and greets in Australia. We’ve done them before but we had a LOT there and they were coming saying all this stuff. As well as the most crazy things that I found fascinating. What people had to say was really interesting and they were necessarily bands but some of them were going on about taking acid and going out to the outback and listening to our album. I was thinking that’s a terrible idea! Taking acid and listening to us! But he loved it but he had all these amazing experiences ‘so the album cover resembled this and symbolised that’ and I was like ‘no, but it’s good you said that’. His interpretations were deep but the lyrics are a lot deeper. That said it’s great that he’d had that experience.
Going back to that initial thing; if you try to talk about how great you have been, or how you mean this or that, it could stop you creatively furthering yourself. (or at least) I find.
If I can challenge that a bit, you’re a reactive performer, you see how the audience is responding, you reach out and get people and that’s what makes the performance go to that next level. So there is a sense that you are taking (their gratitude, adoration, etc) on board as a central part of your art?
I don’t think that’s the same. What you said is perfect. It’s great, it’s what I want, I want people to love my music. I just don’t want to talk about… I just want to scream and see the reaction, see people singing my lyrics and all of that but I don’t want to talk about it all day. I want to move onto the next thing and try and hear something else great or hear another great singer.
You sing in a very physical metal band and yet, having met you a few times, you’re also a very considered person and meticulous when it comes to your music. How do those opposing forces work within you and also as a band?
It’s more about working yourself into a different place regarding what’s required. So I couldn’t write the lyrics I write if I was in the mood of jumped up, aggressive, performer type, which is a big part of me live.
I lot of what I do is very honest. It is very honest. Some of it is really dark. I went through a lot of depression throughout my life. Especially on Opacities, some of that is really dark but with bright cracks of light.
Returning to Tokyo lights, last time we spoke you discussed the revelations you had walking through Tokyo. How you were questioning a lot of things, perhaps with a bit of doubt about your career and then you found yourself in Tokyo and found a real and present moment just being. Looking back, has that feeling continued?
Personally, I’m aiming to do my other band Sad Season and bring it back. It was somewhere and then I thought, fuck this, all these people that want me to do something for them, fuck ’em… not all of them, but you know. A few. Some of them were really nice, but at the end of the day I thought this is me trying my best and I feel a bit out on my own. I know, or I hope that I know when to go ‘right this isn’t happening, time to go’.
Tom, who is one of my best mates, is in Sad Season with me – he’s the other vocalist. Sad Season is psychedelic folk, or is supposed to be. It was just me and him with acoustic instruments and trying very different stuff but now we’ve got a whole band. We’ve a drummer and a bassist that are from a more industrial background so now we have a really different sound. It’s really progressive. It’s basically progressive psychedelic hypnotic rock.
I wanna to do a really great next SiKth Album. I’ve been talking to Jake and it was really great. He was talking about doing something quite experimental and quite out there which is totally up my alley.
Sounds like you’re afraid of SiKth becoming a bit cliched?
I think on the last album it was great. There’s lots of great moments to sing along to and I personally wrote a lot of catchy moments and the band wrote groovy stuff but I think what we have to do next is to go further experimenting and pushing the boundaries in lots of different ways. Completely ignoring what is going on, and that isn’t to say that we were trying to copy other people (on that album). As soon as I sound like someone else I wanna redo it. I always want to push the boundaries with whatever I’m doing next.
London based writer and photographer whose work has graced the grimy pages of most UK music publications. Marshmallowed with age he dreams of touring the Cairngorms and writing romantic prose about semantic pathways. As it is, until that cliché he is this one.