“Very quickly, we began not to go to our classes, but to make music in a studio there,” says Sicotte. The two built a small studio in their new shared apartment and spent five years perfecting their sound. “We loved Steely Dan and all these kinds of old ’70s bands that had that kind of harmony,” Sicotte says, differentiating Sky from the boy band mold.
from the years 1998 “AmericaWas their first single and video, shot by themselves and paid for. In it, Sicotte’s signature soul patch and Renald’s bleached blonde hair were already on display, and the guitar and drum work had all the nuances of what would be their most successful single, “Love Song” from 1999.
Renald and Sicotte made 500 copies of their first (unnamed) EP and rushed to get “America” played on every station in Quebec, targeting their hometown crowd before going national. With a decent provincial radio piece and a video on MusiquePlus (the equivalent of MuchMusic in Quebec), EMI soon came up with a publishing and recording contract. Sicotte says they capitalized on the boy group factor without complying with it, feeling more connected to Ben Folds Five and the New Radicals – groups that played their own instruments but “still had pop songs.”
Sky released their debut album, Piece of Paradise, in 1999, with the hits “Love Song” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” immediately finding an audience. EMI sent Sky across the country with a full band, opening act for the tour… Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time. But even then, the boy band label didn’t really hit Sicotte until he and Renald went on tour in Asia without a support band – and he didn’t like it. The two played backing tracks instead, and while Sicotte understood why they were going, he wanted their next tour to have a full band.
Unfortunately, there would be no other tour in Asia for Sicotte and Renald. Sky signed an American deal with Arista, and after three months of pushing the group to the United States, Renald decided he wanted to leave.
“I always felt like he was going to pull the plug out at some point, I just didn’t know when…. And I remember one day in LA, he just called me and said, ‘I’m going out, that’s it, I’m done,’ ”recalls Sicotte. “And we did another show, because it was a super well paid New Years 2000 concert. And that was it.”
“James, even when I met him, he tried to be invisible,” Sicotte continues. “He had a big butt beard, an oversized shirt and a cap. He was always a guy caught between two worlds in the sense that he was an incredible singer and songwriter…. But at the same time, he didn’t want to be a rock star at all. He didn’t want to be in the public eye, he didn’t want to be judged or seen or seen. He really didn’t like it. He was an extremely perfectionist. So he was very hard on himself all the time. So that made it really, really, really hard to move forward, you know?
Sky would go on to win the Best New Group award at the 2000 Juno Awards, and Sicotte accepted the award solo. Renald stayed in LA after leaving the band and wrote songs for Mandy Moore and Taylor Hicks, among others. The two friends separate and Renald will not return to Quebec until 2018. A few months after his return to his native province, Renald committed suicide.
Sicotte will maintain the group with two other main singers: Anastasia Friedman (2000-03) and Karl Wolf (2003-05). They would release two more albums – Traveling Infinity in 2000 and Picture Perfect in 2003 – but nothing would match Sicotte / Renald’s mainstream success levels.
Today, Sicotte is a starred chef in Quebec, and has just released her sixth cookbook.
“I don’t know if I would ever make another Sky record,” said Sicotte. “I mean, there was always in the back of my mind, and until his death, there was always hope, a dream that one day James would come back and that we could make another Sky record with it. him. And that would have been my ideal, for sure. But that day will surely never come.