A WNYU interview with pop-punk artist Sizzy Rocket
The singer-songwriter discussed her newly released mixtape, her musical influences and what she’s listening to right now.
Dec 8, 2021
Sizzy Rocket aspires to make a song for every emotion on the spectrum and her mixtape, “Too Young to Die” makes strides towards just that. The alternative punk artist, who previously attended NYU’s Clive Davis Institute for three years, just released “Too Young to Die” on Sept. 31. This release follows her 2016 debut album “Thrills,” “Grrrl” (2019) and “ANARCHY” (2020).
“Too Young To Die” marks a shift to a grittier, more punk side of the artist, one that she’s excited to show off on tour. This mixtape transforms an eclectic collection of music, ranging from Haddaway’s “What is Love?” to Rihanna’s “Rockstar 101.” By switching up verses and adding guitar riffs and gritty vocals, Sizzy Rocket successfully remixes songs of various genres with a punk rock twist.
The artist is currently on tour throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, having just performed in Chicago this past Thursday, Dec. 2. We chatted over Zoom about her new mixtape, touring and her recently released single, “Catching Bullets With My Teeth.” The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
MaryCharlotte: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your music?
Sizzy Rocket: I’m Sizzy Rocket. I’m a rockstar, poet, artist and musician. My music is about making life as creative, beautiful and romantic as possible.
MaryCharlotte: Your mixtape is stylistically different from your other albums. What inspired you to take classic songs and personalize them?
Sizzy Rocket: I love that you listened to the mixtape! We had so much fun making it. I feel like creatively I’m sort of in between albums right now, like I made “Grrl,” which was my first time diving into making a record and right after that I made “ANARCHY” kind of back-to-back. So I really want to take my time and really develop a brand new sound for the new record, but I still wanted to put out music. The mixtape isn’t an album, but it’s still a body of work, something different, something fresh and that’s how we came up with the idea of flipping our favorite songs and it was a crazy process.
MaryCharlotte: One thing that stood out to me is how different all songs on the mixtape are — you jump from Modern English to Rihanna. How did you pick those songs?
Sizzy Rocket: I love music. I listen to so many types of music — pop, classic rock, jazz — I mean, I really listen to everything. So the song choices really came from a pure place of choosing songs that we loved — songs that are maybe more unexpected than just covering a song that’s popular. We chose the songs because they’re the shit we actually listen to.
MaryCharlotte: Do you have a favorite song off the mixtape?
Sizzy Rocket: Right now the one that speaks to me the most is “Be Free.” We have a little “Be Free”-related surprise that will happen before the year’s over. That one really sums up what I wanted out of making this mixtape, which is complete artistic freedom to make something real and pure.
MaryCharlotte: Does the opportunity to tour again contribute to your current artistic freedom?
Sizzy Rocket: Oh my God yes! I am living my best life on tour. I just feel the most connected to my fans when I’m playing shows. Like last night we played Chicago and it was the first time I had felt that love, connection, understanding and that “you see me and I see you” in two years. That’s everything to me. Getting to do this mixtape live … well, the last time I was playing live was “Grrl,” so it was softer songs, but this mixtape is really hard hitting — intense — just really punk. Getting to do a punk show is so fun.
MaryCharlotte: Would you say your sound has gone through a shift from your 2016 debut to now?
Sizzy Rocket: I think my sound is definitely more developed and my vision gets clearer everyday. With “Grrl,” I just wanted to make something honest and vulnerable and I was searching for that. As I make more and more music, my vision of what I want it to sound like, which is this big rock star, fresh music — that becomes more clear the more I make my art.
MaryCharlotte: I know you attended NYU for a while and was wondering, where would you place NYU in your journey to develop your sound?
Sizzy Rocket: It was so early. I mean I’ve been making music, writing music, playing piano and singing since I was a kid. But I became Sizzy Rocket when I was 17 and discovered punk, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, the newer punk scene, Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground. I was like, that is what I want to do, that is me. I moved to New York like six months after that realization, so I just had a fun time running around the Lower East Side, going to shows and figuring out who I wanted to be. New York was really defining for that.
MaryCharlotte: I feel like you’ve really carved out a space for queer women in the current punk scene. Is this something you intentionally think about while making music or is it just an innate part of yourself that comes through?
Sizzy Rocket: It’s definitely not intentional — I just am a queer woman and have those experiences. When I’m in the studio and writing something I ask myself, ‘What do I really want to say right now? What do I really want to talk about? What’s gonna make me get on that mic and feel honest and true?’ So I guess I’m just a queer woman! I’m happy that transparency is there and that it’s resonating with other badass bitches.
MaryCharlotte: Do you have one song in your discography that you feel represents Sizzy Rocket right now?
Sizzy Rocket: Right at this moment? “Straight to Mars” off of “ANARCHY.” This is our day off from tour and we’re just chilling, editing footage … we’re in chill mode. I will say that what I love about the discography is that there truly is a song for everything. That’s my goal — I want to make a song for every single emotion on the spectrum cause I have all of them, so I might as well express them.
MaryCharlotte: Talking about new music, you did just drop a single with Troi Irons, “Catching Bullets In My Teeth.” Can you tell me a little about it?
Sizzy Rocket: I discovered Troi’s music very naturally when another artist posted the visuals for their single, “She Loves Me Not,” and I went and listened and was like, ‘this is crazy!’ I went to message them and they’d already messaged me asking to collaborate, so it was kind of meant to be. I was like ‘A, do you want to go to the studio? and B, do you want to go on tour with me?’ They said yes and so this was the first song we wrote in the studio together.
MaryCharlotte: What was writing this song like for you two?
Sizzy Rocket: I love working with Troi so much because I feel like I can tap into that grittiest, punkest, nastiest side of myself and Troi will push it even further. I remember writing the lyrics and being like ‘Finger fucking mess under my skirt? Can I say that?’ And Troi was like, ‘bitch yes! You can say whatever you want!’ Troi’s a real one for sure. And I love how the guitar is the same ‘I don’t give a f–k’ metal riff, you know? They definitely bring the best, truest version of myself out.
MaryCharlotte: What is Sizzy Rocket listening to right now?
Sizzy Rocket: Okay I have to make this good. I actually have a playlist of all the songs I’m listening to right now, so I’m gonna give you my top three. You’re not expecting any of these, I promise that.
1. Just a Lil Bit by 50 Cent
2. Dealer by Lana Del Rey
3. Thrills by LCD Soundsystem
MaryCharlotte: To wrap up, anything you’d like to add?
Sizzy Rocket: I would say keep making your art no matter what, it’s really important to the world. And have fun! My NYU days were so, so fun. So have fucking fun and never forget it.
Listen to the full interview on WNYU this Friday, Dec. 10 on “The Sound Between” from 2 to 4 p.m.
Contact MaryCharlotte Barnes at [email protected]