SESPOOL, the chaotic project of Sean E. Sullivan, is what would happen if 100 gecs used the dark web. before the fog covers me is his latest endeavor, and it’s something of a bumpy journey through cyberspace, utilizing elements of metal, trap, emo, electronic, stoner rock, and dream pop. The opening title track is much like a video game entrance into SESPOOL’s absurd world—a digital portal into an irresistible hell.
We asked Sullivan to put together a playlist of songs that inspired the album, and it’s as diverse as one would expect—from the eccentric metallic pop star Poppy to Sullivan’s own folk singer/songwriter brother Field Medic. It explains why his music spans a multitude of genres. Listen below, and read along to his commentary.
Poppy’s I Disagree was the album that convinced me I could make the album I heard in my head. The genre-fusion is completely insane, from ferocious metal riffs and breakdowns into K-pop anime melodies, and lush indie rock into dark industrial—it’s a total trip and one of my favorites from 2020.
Mew is one of my favorite bands of all time, and this is a song I can never get sick of. I feel like I was really channeling Jonas’ upper-register singing and Bo’s jangly guitar style in “meet ecstasy,” and their influence is one that will never leave me.
Juice WRLD, “Bandit (with YoungBoy Never Broke Again)”
Juice WRLD has been one of my favorite artists since 2018, and Nick Mira’s production specifically has been a huge influence on my style. This song came out last October as I started working on new stuff and I had this song on repeat. Total banger.
Bat for Lashes, “Desert Man”
Bat for Lashes is one of those influences that probably doesn’t come across obviously in my music, but Natasha makes some of the most magical sounds I’ve ever heard. This album came out in September of 2019 and was being played constantly while I worked on this project. I also had a chance to see her live right before lockdown, and that mystical experience stuck with me and pushed me to get the work done while being quarantined.
Travis Scott, “SKELETONS”
My love for Travis Scott began in 2015 with Rodeo, an album still in a realm all its own as a psychedelic trap masterpiece. ASTROWORLD was my favorite album of 2018 along with Goodbye & Good Riddance by Juice WRLD, and the epic scope of Travis’ albums resonate with me in a way that a lot of artists have forgotten. I try to put that attention to detail into the albums I release, and Travis inspires me in a way that not a lot of contemporary hip hop/trap artists can.
Field Medic, “HEADCASE”
This isn’t a stylistic inspiration as much as it is a lyrical one. I had the pleasure of hearing most of my brother’s album long before it came out, and he always inspires me to do as much as I can with my words since he’s such a clever wordsmith. This song shares some lyrical themes with the title track from mine and even mentions “if the fog will be lifting for some relief from this sickness…” so it has a very direct connection.
Porcupine Tree, “Fear of a Blank Planet”
Porcupine Tree is one of my favorite bands of all time, and this opening track from their 2007 album was way ahead of its time in terms of lyrics pertaining to the isolation and drain of modern living. They also fuse together really heavy moments with really dreamy, poppy moments throughout their albums in a way that’s always appealed to me, and I injected into before the fog covers me.
Every Time I Die, “For the Record”
Every Time I Die is another one of my favorite bands of all time. They’re so consistent and so good both musically and lyrically that I consider them to be in the top echelon of heavy bands. I could have honestly picked almost any song from any of their albums because they’re that good, but this one rocks hard.
Offset & Metro Boomin, “Ric Flair Drip”
Metro Boomin is another one of my biggest influences as a producer, and this song simply slaps. Groovin’ ass 808s, a dark spooky melody, and Offest just kills it on the vocal delivery. Eerie yet so accessible. I love this song.
XXXTENTACION feat. Trippie Redd, “Fuck Love”
The combination of X and Trippie is just too good, with more awesome production from Nick Mira. This is a perfect emo rap song, full of emotion and energy in a way that hasn’t been replicated too many times.
Chelsea Wolfe, “Vex”
Chelsea Wolfe is another one of my most listened to artists. She has a hauntingly beautiful voice and a versatility that is unmatched. She can do super gripping and effective acoustic-based album like last year’s incredible Birth of Violence, or crank it up with guitar and vocal distortion like on this track. I love everything she’s put out, and one of my dreams is to play a show together.
Opeth, “April Ethereal”
Opeth was one of the main bands that got me into extreme metal and I’ll never forget one of the first times I heard My Arms, Your Hearse—it turned a hot, sunny Bay Area day into the rainiest winter night. It has such a dark atmosphere and hauntingly poetic lyrics it remains a favorite of mine to this day. Opeth’s fusion of extreme metal and progressive rock had a huge impact on my sound and when I wrote the chorus riff in “before the fog covers me”—it felt like an Opeth lick.
Juice WRLD, “Fast”
I felt the need to include another Juice WRLD song that’s more mellow and emo than the one earlier in the playlist. My favorite album of his came out in 2018, but I mention the name of the follow up, Death Race for Love, in my song “lost waves crash,” so it felt right to include it here. “Fast” addresses some of the lyrical themes of my album and Juice’s smooth, and melodically emotive delivery speaks to me so deeply.
Pink Floyd, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5)”
This is the opening track on one of the best—if not the best—albums of all time. The way this song starts was the inspiration for the opening track on my album, as I wanted to try and set the tone in a similar, but much more abridged, way. This song is amazing. Pink Floyd is the greatest band of all time.