Its title bears the phrase A Sure Disaster, but the upcoming split between SeeYouSpaceCowboy and If I Die First finds perfect harmony in the key of 'core. The former's righteous "sasscore"— at once grindy, chuggy and flamboyantly weird — and the latter's piercing yet melodic post-hardcore are two different sides of the white belt coin, but when they literally collide on the project's collaborative title track, "bloodstainedeyes," it fucking works. Between its masterful centerpiece and the two songs from each band that bookend it, the split that's due out May 14th via Pure Noise Records is one of the most exciting heavy pairings in recent memory (you can pre-order it now).
By now, SYSC are a known quantity in the liminal space between hardcore and metalcore, and If I Die First will likely reach that level by the end of 2021. After years of producing beats for prominent emo-rappers like Lil Peep, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal and Lil Tracey, Nedarb co-founded the band in 2020 and dropped a well-received EP called My Poison Arms. The band's original lineup included Ghostemane's rhythm section, but the current iteration is made up of From First To Last guitarist Travis Richter and drummer Derek Bloom, as well as emo-rap artists Lil Lotus and Lil Zubin on vocals and bass, respectively.
As for how the L.A. gang got linked up with the San Diego-based SYSC? It's a tale as old as Instagram. Frontwoman Connie Sgarbossa sent Nedarb a complimentary DM about a Saetia hoodie he had on in a photo, which thrilled the producer because he was already a fan of SYSC to begin with. The two of them and their bands quickly became friends, and the idea for a split came together organically when SYSC would trek out to L.A. to record demo vocals for their upcoming full-length.
"It was a fun little colliding of worlds," Sgarbossa says. "Because I was over here a big fan of [Nedarb's emo-rap] scene, and Ned was over there as a fan of SpaceCowboy, and it was just a match made in heaven to become homies."
We spoke with the two of them about the unique vision they crafted for the split, the intense visuals for it and the lovably chaotic process behind the "bloodstainedeyes" music video.
ONCE YOU HAD THE IDEA FOR THE SPLIT, WAS THERE A CERTAIN VISION YOU HAD FOR IT?
CONNIE SGARBOSSA At first it was just the idea of a split, but instead of just doing the standard features on each other's tracks, we wanted to write a song together. And then that became the focal point of the split. The songs each band did are cool, but the collab became the stand-out thing.
SO WHERE'D THE IDEA OF THE COLLABORATIVE TRACK COME FROM? THAT'S NOT VERY COMMON IN METAL AND HARDCORE.
SGARBOSSA I thought it would be sick because it was something that I couldn't think of any band in the hardcore scene doing. It happens a lot in other music worlds but I never heard of it happening here. And partially because I just loved the idea of both bands coming together and doing shit together. Because we both have such different sounds but we're in the same world, so I was like, "Well if we combine those things then you could have everything you would want in one track." You have driving, beautiful singing and choruses from If I Die First, and then you have the weird heavy, spastic shit from SpaceCowboy.
I FEEL LIKE THAT'S REALLY CAPTURED IN THE "BLOODSTAINEDEYES" VIDEO AND THE PROMO PHOTOS FOR THIS PROJECT. WHERE YOU'RE LITERALLY MESHING THOSE TWO TOGETHER, IT FEELS LIKE THEY'RE COLLIDING WITH THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE RED AND THE WHITE.
SGARBOSSA When I was thinking about what I wanted to do with this whole fuckin' thing visually, stark contrast immediately came into my mind. Like, since both bands are different but similar and we can work together, let's play off the differences. The visual idea came to me almost immediately when the process started. I think somebody suggested the idea of both bands fighting each other for a music video, but when I thought about that I was like, "OK we'll put them in fuckin' uniforms and then put them in a room and just have them duke it out with a lot of blood." The image of white dress shirts stained in blood came to mind and I was like, "OK, that's sick."
WAS IT WEIRD TO HAVE SO MANY IDEAS GOING INTO ONE SONG FOR "BLOODSTAINEDEYES"? GIVEN THAT SO MANY PEOPLE PLAYED ON THE SONG.
NEDARB Writing it wasn't even that crazy or hard to do, which is the wild thing. We were just at Connie's apartment with me and Ethan [Sgarbossa, SYSC guitarist] just going back and forth with parts. One part would be mainly inspired by their band, and one part would be mainly us, and then putting leads over it. It wasn't that crazy to make. Everything else, all the details and specifics of putting together the split, was probably harder to figure it out, but the actual song wasn't surprisingly that hard to make.
SGARBOSSA It seemed to come together super organically. Like Ned said, we basically stayed in my apartment for three days. Half the time people were off partying in my apartment and half the time people would be working and switching off. It was really easy for Ned and Ethan to just sit down and write shit together. And then for Zubin and Lotus and Tay to come down and be like, "OK let's do a piano part with pretty singing." It was really organic and easy.
FROM A MUSICAL STANDPOINT, WERE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SOUNDS OR SONGWRITING MOVES THAT YOU WANTED TO EXPERIMENT WITH WHILE YOU WERE WRITING THESE TRACKS?
SGARBOSSA Since SpaceCowboy has never been one for super, super pretty shit, when it came down to the piano part with all of the singing, that was something that I wanted to make really fucking sick because it's so out of our personal comfort zone. So I really wanted to make that a standout part, and I think it came together really well. Part of the fun of this collab was being a part of something that we would never normally do. Doing all of these things, having choruses— that's something that SpaceCowboy has never done before so it served almost as a playground for what we're going to do in the future.
YOU OBVIOUSLY PUT A LOT OF EFFORT INTO THE IMAGERY FOR THIS PROJECT, WHICH IS A REALLY GREAT THROWBACK TO THAT EARLY 2000S POST-HARDCORE/METALCORE AESTHETIC. WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT ANY SPECIFIC AESTHETICS FROM THE PAST OR WERE YOU COMING UP WITH SOMETHING THAT FELT ENTIRELY NEW AND FRESH TO YOU?
SGARBOSSA I was taking inspiration from different cinematography from movies and certain feels. We wanted it to be darkly comedic with some Wes Anderson framing in terms of shots. Visually, when I did the packaging and the cover and shit, the cover was another thing that popped immediately into my mind. We were going to do a shot from nose down to the waist. Just me and Lotus covered in blood, that's the cover, you don't need more than that. And everything else was playing off of that imagery really. You can't get much more contrasty than white and blood red, so I just played off of that and how stark that looks visually.
THAT MUSIC VIDEO LOOKED LIKE IT WAS SUPER FUN TO MAKE. DO YOU HAVE ANY FUNNY OR COOL STORIES ABOUT BEING ON THE SET FOR THAT?
SGARBOSSA The whole thing was fun, we spent 13 hours building that set the day before in [Los Angeles venue] 1720 while also finishing the song at the same time.
NEDARB The song was not even done the day before. We were tracking vocals as we were setting up the shit. That's pretty funny to me.
SGARBOSSA Shit wasn't done. There was one group tracking vocals in the attic of 1720 and another group down below building the set. And of course shooting it was fun because what's more fun than fake beating your friends up and throwing and spitting out blood? It doesn't get much more fun than that. Part of the campy, fun feel of it. Ned really did throw me over his shoulder and slam me up against the wall. It was fun.
DO YOU THINK THE FACT THAT THE SONG WASN'T DONE AND ALL OF THAT STUFF GOING ON CONTRIBUTED TO THE CHAOS OF THE PROJECT IN A COOL WAY?
SGARBOSSA Yeah, I definitely think there was a lot of chaos to it because we had one day to shoot it since we spent one day building it. It was like, "OK one day and done" because we were working on a very tight schedule with our drummer coming from Long Island for this two week process. Of writing and recording the collaborative song, doing our songs as well, and shooting the music video. So it was a very gung-ho hectic kind of thing, but I feel like it definitely helped the vibe. It wasn't super planned-out.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD ABOUT THE PROJECT, YOUR BANDS OR MUSIC IN GENERAL?
SGARBOSSA There is no Myspace revival, there is no plot to bring that shit back. This is just some bands doing what we want to do. When we started this band four years ago there was no revival of anything in mind, we just started as a melodic hardcore band and started adding shit that we like and it just basically turned into white belt. There was never a revival in mind, there was never a movement behind it. It's literally just a bunch of bands doing what we want to do.
THAT'S ALWAYS HOW IT GOES WITH THESE THINGS. SOUNDS INEVITABLY COME BACK, EVERYTHING IS CYCLICAL, BUT IT'S NOT LIKE THERE'S SOME BIG PLOT.
SGARBOSSA For us, we started as a melodic hardcore band. We started talking about adding breakdowns because I was really into Me and Him Call It Us, so let's add grimy breakdowns. And then I had done sass shit in my screamo band before SpaceCowboy so it was like, "let's add that in." And then let's add some grind shit like the Locust. And then we realized, "Oh, well, this is basically white belt." But that's what we wanted to do so we just did it. It was never the goal to bring "scene" back, that's just what happened.