2012 was quite a year for the semi-elusive singer/songwriter Skylar Grey.
After becoming known for her dark, melodramatic ballads, Skylar Grey is switching up the game with her new fun track "C'mon Let Me Ride," featuring Eminem.
GlobalGrind caught up with the "Invisible" singer to chit-chat about her forthcoming debut album, Don't Look Down, working closely with Eminem, dispelling misconceptions about herself, and of course, her newfound role as a writer in hip-hop.
Check out our exclusive interview with Skylar Grey below!
GlobalGrind: In your “Come on Let Me Ride” video, whose idea was it to hit the trailer park?
Skylar Grey: It was mine — well, I don’t know. I went through like 20 different treatments. But, I said to the people that were writing treatments, I really want it to be in, like, a rural kind of trashy area because that was how I grew up too. One thing that Em said to me once was ‘just be you.’ It really meant a lot to hear that because I felt like I was pushing myself in all of these different directions —musically, style wise, everything. When he said ‘just be you’ it made so much sense. So, for this first video I want to show the image of where I came from. I didn’t come from a trailer park, but I came from very similar types of characters.
How is your forthcoming album different from what you’ve done previously?
I don’t know. I feel like I was always searching, all my life, for what I really wanted to sound like. It took a while. That’s why I waited so long to put the album out, you know? I was experimenting a lot. And, this song is not indicative of the album. That’s like as goofy as it gets. It’s dark and it gets moody and melodic like you would expect. But there’s everything in between. So it’s well balanced, well rounded and lots of different moods.
What’s been a defining moment in becoming Skylar Grey and the woman you are today?
I think it was just after I left the woods. I was living in my cabin in the woods, and I had a rebirth there. And, “Love the Way You Lie” was basically the first song I wrote after my time spent in the woods, and then it became a huge hit, and to me that was a sign that I was doing all the right things. And that was the moment when my whole life turned around.
If I could send you back to that cabin and you can only bring three albums, what three albums would you bring?
I would probably bring Kid A by Radiohead. I’d bring White Ladder by David Grey and maybe Tidal by Fiona Apple.
In past interviews that you’ve done, you speak of how you decided to change your name to Skylar and how Holly Brook is in the past, the name that your parents gave you. Is Holly Brook still living inside of Skylar or has she been reincarnated into somebody else?
I don’t know, I guess Holly Brook will always be a part of me because it was who I was.
If you had to describe who Holly Brook was and who Skylar Grey is today, what would you tell them?
Holly Brook was lost; Skylar Grey was found.
What was your favorite toy to play with as a child?
I had a stuffed whale. I have a tattoo on my foot that says ‘it’s a whale’ in Japanese, because Japanese people kill whales. My stuffed whale was like most children’s teddy bear. I took it with me everywhere. I slept with it. I couldn’t live without my whale.
Do you know where that whale is now?
What was the last book you read?
I didn’t finish it, but Howard Zinn’s A People's History of the United States.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about yourself?
I think, honestly, that a lot of people think I’m sad and dark all the time, because of the music I have made. But there’s a huge part of my personality that’s really energetic, outgoing and goofy. So, yeah, I would think that would be the biggest misconception. Another one would be that I’m a music snob, or something, because I like all different types of music and I have no problem with pop music and stuff. Like, some people think ‘oh, she’s all artsy, and she writes a certain way and plays instruments so she must be a snob musically’ and I’m so not.
What is your connection with Eminem? What is it about him that draws you to him?
I really admire his art, first and foremost. I have for a long time, since I was a kid. And I feel like on a creative level I can relate to it. So it’s a good person to have on my team and I’m just so blessed that he actually wants to work with me, too. Really just that. We’re all about the music.
What are five things that you must have when you’re in the studio?
I have to be isolated. I can’t be surrounded by people, I can’t have anybody in the room with me. And I need to have tea, like nice high-end tea.
Did you ever envision yourself being so involved with hip-hop?
No, I never would have guessed that that would have happened to me. Working in hip-hop — the first time I did that was probably back when I was working on “Where’d You Go” Fort Minor, and that was the first time that I ever touched even working in hip-hop music, and I really liked it.
I’m actually jealous of rappers because they get to get so much more into a song, like so many more words. I’m trapped by a melody, I have to fit all the words that I want to say into a melody, so I can’t tell the full story a lot of times. It’s really difficult to do that. Sometimes I wish I was a rapper because you can get so much more in there, but I sound horrible rapping. That’s why I like to collaborate on hip-hop music. I get to be part of it and be part of telling a story.
What can we expect from your new album this year? Describe it sonically.
It’s lyrical and catchy, and I have hip-hop drums and influences of, maybe, alternative '90s music, because that’s what I really love. And I have a wide range of moods, from dirty to playful, and playful to sad and angry.
If you could be any dinosaur, what dinosaur would you be?
Tyrannosaurus Rex because they rule. They run the show, man. They scare everybody.