Local Noise: Syka

Syka played their first show in December 2011. But even though the band has only been together a short period of time, they’ve already been featured on Q104.3, opened for major acts, and been filmed as part of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Lead singer, songwriter, and band namesake Syka is the band visionary, and she’s joined in the group by X on guitar, Gregg Sgarlata (aka Sgar) on bass, and Mike Allen on drums.

“The band started out as just myself and a vision,” explains Syka. “X and I had been playing shows for a while. Then I found Mike online in October of 2011, and he joined the band after a couple of jam sessions. In August 2011, I met Gregg at a music studio down the street from me, and when the band needed a bass player after we booked our first show with Halestorm, he joined.”

Together they have hit a number of area venues including Dingbatz, EJ’s, Jiggs, The Saint, The Brighton Bar, Starland Ballroom, Crocodile Rock, Sullivan Hall and Tammany Hall.

The group has a powerful, energetic hard rock edge with a generous dose of attitude and punch, but they inject their songs with enough melody to make the songs memorable, even on first listen. “I do all of the writing,” Syka says. “Writing comes most naturally to me with just myself and an acoustic guitar or piano. Once I have all of the pieces in place, song structure, melody, and lyrics, I record it on electric, and then add layers to it. After it is completed and I am satisfied, I hand the song off to the band. They then add their own flavor and style to the song. I never write for other people. It is 100 percent real. I believe that writing music is all about your own expression and feelings, and to write for yourself before you think of anybody else. If you like it and feel it, other people will too.”

Musically, their influences range from hard rock and heavy metal to punk, classical and even dance. They cite Evanescence as a major current influence, along with Marilyn Manson, Porcelain Black, and Halestorm. Other classic artists that have left an impact on the group include Black Sabbath, early Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and Manowar.

Songs that particularly show the high energy sound and highlight Syka’s voice include the trio that often opens their live shows; “Shut Your Lips,” “Live This Nightmare,” and “Love Sick.”

Syka is not only the lead singer and songwriter, but obviously lends her name to the band as well. “Back when it was just me, I wrote the song ‘Psycho,’” she relates. “The whole concept of the song was really fitting. I thought, ‘How cool would it be to have a spin off of the word psycho?’ I can make up my own word, and create a persona that fits the name. X suggested SYKO, but after lots of thought, I made it female, as in SYKA. Supposedly in Russian, it means ‘bitch.’ And in African, it means ‘nothing is impossible.’ In English, it means me and band!”

The airplay on Q104.3 and subsequent performances at their events stemmed from Syka’s relentless promotion. “Being relatively new on the scene as a band, we’ve been working like dogs and Jonathan Clarke of Q104.3 noticed,” she exclaims. “I made a demo of our song ‘Love Sick,’ and the demo morphed into the final version. I then started submitting the song everywhere, having no expectations about anybody picking up on it. Then, a couple of weeks after I submitted the song, I got an email from Q104.3 saying we were one of the top five up-and-coming bands chosen by Jonathan Clarke. It was unreal, and just showed me that I’ve been doing something right. The band was invited to the New Music Seminar at Webster Hall, so we went and walked the red carpet that night. We were the only hard rock band there. We also got to play a show at Tammany Hall in New York City with two other bands, sponsored by Cabo Wabo Tequila, so we got free tequila, hung out in the VIP lounge all night, and were treated like rock stars. The Q104.3 people were great and very professional.”

The Jersey Shore experience was really a lucky coincidence, although one they actual saw coming. “When we booked our show at EJ’s on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, we were joking about how funny it would be if we showed up and the Jersey Shore orange tan people were there,” Syka laughs. “Lo and behold, we pulled up in our van and saw all MTV cameras there and some short, orange chick with, like, five cameras in her face. I was like, ‘NO WAY!’ As we were loading in, and the Syka takeover began, MTV was filming the whole thing. The entire cast of Jersey Shore just happened to be there. I signed a release saying I may be on the show. We were laughing the whole time, hangin’ with the Jersey Shore cast. Right. Funny when worlds collide!”

You can check out Syka at syka.net and facebook.com/sykamusic, where you’ll find samples of the music, photos, and upcoming tour dates.