Interview with Shakey Sue of The Hellfreaks


By Mick Michaels
The Cosmick View: Hello, Shakey Sue and welcome to The Cosmick View/MBM Ten Pounder! Thanks for taking some time to chat with us! 

CV: Describe your definition of the band’s sound and style and how does that definition uniquely describe the music?

Shakey Sue: I would consider ourselves a modern, punk metal band. We’re the sound for kids who grew up with Rock ’n Roll, punk, metal and hardcore - because that’s what we’re into! And we love to mix these elements and spice them up with a modern touch. When it comes to the question “to which bands do you sound similar to” it takes me ages to give an answer.

I believe that this has to be a sign that we’re doing a good job because it’s hard to compare us to any other band, which means that we’re really doing something unique and that is one of the main goals when you’re writing music.

CV: Today, everyone talks about artist and audience connection. Is such a level of connection actually achievable for an artist and if so, how have you made the connection to your fans?
Shakey Sue: Of course it’s achievable. There is a connection from the moment you release your music. Your songs are a piece of yourself and if you’re lucky enough, it will awaken the emotions of those who listen to it…and that’s a significant connection between the artist and the listener. Of course you connect at shows which I guess is obvious. Last but not least, there is so much to dislike about the digital world but one thing is awesome: even in times like COVID, you can immediately get connected to your fans through social media, YouTube, etc. That is not just important, but an awesome feeling for us artists too! Especially in days of quarantine, when everyone is struggling to stay sane, we love to get in touch with our fans, and we try our best to stay connected with them.  Whenever they reach out, we try to get back to them. It means a lot to the fans and us too! We still read every single comment, every single message, every single reaction - it’s all we have in times like these days. So if this means THAT much to us, I can imagine how much it means to them if we take the time to answer.

CV: Is fan interaction an important part of the band’s inner culture?
Shakey Sue: I’m not sure if I understand the question right. The feedback from our fans is important, but it has no impact on our songwriting. If we let the feedback flow into our songwriting, we would lose ourselves step by step. That’s not an option.
CV: Can a band truly interact with its fans and still maintain a level of personal privacy without crossing the line and giving up their “personal space” in your opinion?
Shakey Sue: I think it’s a process to learn to ignore the negative opinions. It’s easy to say that “you don’t really care about haters”, but for me personally this didn’t happen overnight, it was a process to accept and learn. I see that as an issue. But when it comes to personal space …I’m a singer of a punk rock metal band and even if we were 10 times bigger than we are now, it would not affect my personal life. It sounds stupid but this is “just” alternative music, no one would ever make such a big thing of my persona which can happen in the world of commercial pop music.

The rest is all on me - it’s just up to me how much I want to share about my personal life in the digital world, so I do feel that I have full control over that.

CV: Is music, and its value, viewed differently around the world in your opinion?  If so, what do you see as the biggest difference in such multiple views among various cultures?
Shakey Sue: This is a very big topic that I can’t answer in a few sentences, but I’ll try.  We’re based in Hungary, where “light music”, which means pretty much any kind of music that is not classical music, is politically not seen as something with cultural value. This makes it very hard to keep your head above the water because this affects bands on so many levels. I’m not saying that it’s not manageable, as we have many great bands here in Hungary, but you have to really want it and sacrifice a lot, as there is no support to count on. I know that there are places where it’s much harder and I know that there are places where musicians are supported a lot more. But the world was never a fair place so we have to deal with what we get and I still consider myself lucky compared to how much worse it could be.

CV: Do you feel that a band that has an international appeal, will tend to connect more so to American audiences? Would they be more enticed or intrigued to see the band over indigenous acts because of the foreign flavor?
Shakey Sue: We have only toured in the USA once. I don’t think that this would give me a proper insight or the right to presume what Americans might think of or how they feel about bands from other continents.

CV: Has modern-day digital technology made everyone an artist on some level in your opinion? Have the actual lines of what really is an artist been blurred?
Shakey Sue: I think thanks to digital technology, any kind of creation can reach more and different types of people than before and that is awesome. People have more input, can be inspired by more, can pick up more ideas … everything just became more: art and trash. I guess 30 years ago we were more used to accepting the opinion from professionals about what is seen as art or what isn’t. It wasn’t up to us to decide that. Nowadays, we don’t have to go to a museum to see art or go to a concert to hear new music, it’s all available on our phone. There is no additional person who filters that besides you. That’s why I don’t think that this line is blurred. There are just more opinions about it that can be the total opposite of each other and we just have to accept that.

CV: How would you describe the difference between an artist who follows trends and one who sets them?
Shakey Sue: Depends on how we define “follows.” If it means that the person recreates exactly what already exists, then I personally don’t see it as art.

If someone is inspired by something that already exists or if someone is creating something totally new, that’s the same to me. Everyone is inspired by something, the only difference is that sometimes you can see where the inspiration comes from and sometimes you have no clue.

CV: Has music overall been splintered into too many sub-genres in an effort to appease fan tastes in your opinion? And has such fan appeasements, in actuality, weakened music’s impact as a whole by dividing audiences?
Shakey Sue: I think genres are just there to have proper expressions and to be able to communicate in words about different types of music. Music is created for your ears and of course it gets difficult if you have to convert that experience into words.

It’s like talking about colors. We have an expression for the color red and we have an expression for the color pink, but the range between them is endless and it’s impossible to give all the variations different names. That’s pretty much the same with music: it is not just the endless range of colors; musicians also mix these different colors, so it’s impossible to transfer the musical experience into words but of course we try. That’s why we have genres, because with that we can at least define the main colors of the musical painting.

I see genres as a communication tool. That’s why I really don’t like any “genre policy”, because when people ask to create music the way we express in words, they are killing creativity and the option to make something new. They deny themselves the possibility to use more colors than they can express, which is definitely the wrong path.

CV: What can fans except to see coming next from you?
Shakey Sue: For now, because of COVID, we can’t, or rather don’t dare to plan any shows, so we’re focusing 100% on the creative process. We’re working on new songs and we also have new 2 music videos in the pipeline, so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

CV: Thanks again Shakey Sue for taking some time and talking. It is greatly appreciated.
Shakey Sue: Thank you very much for having me.


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The Cosmick Voice
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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, show host, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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