Skylar Grey is a five-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. She recently released her single, “Cannonball” featuring X Ambassadors, and just started touring the country with the band. In addition to pursuing her own career as an artist, Grey has penned hooks and hits for various artists as well, including “I Need a Doctor,” by Dr. Dre, “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem ft. Rihanna and, more recently, “Bed of Lies” by Nicki Minaj. Additionally, Grey’s song “I Know You” was featured on the “50 Shades of Grey” soundtrack earlier this year. Grey sat down to talk with WSN before leaving on tour this past week to discuss her new single and her upcoming album.
WSN: Where did the inspiration for “Cannonball” come from? What is the song about to you?
Skylar Grey: Well, Alex Da Kid is the label guy, friend and producer, and he signed both me and X Ambassadors to his label, so the song “Cannonball” came through that. It was his idea to have us do a song together. Sam from X Ambassadors wrote a hook, and then they tracked it along to me, and said now you do your thing on it. The song itself is about empowerment, and being the underdog, and fighting your way to the top. You know, it’s a competitive world out there, and I think that a lot of people can relate to that, and I thought it would be a powerful message.
WSN: So, since Cannonball does have a more folk-alternative feel to it, could we look for more folk-tinted songs on your third, upcoming album?
SG: Yeah. I come from a folk background, and grew up playing folk music with my mom, so it’s definitely in my roots to have some folksiness. Yeah, Cannonball though, to me, does sound like a X Ambassadors song, and sounds more like them than what you’ve heard from me in the past. But, as far as the rest of the album goes, there definitely is like a thread running through it, and some other stuff too, but for the most part, it’s a very authentic album to who I am—very artistic, very complex chord structure, and it’s a piece of art to me. I feel really proud of it.
WSN: Is there a specific story you are telling with your new album? I know you have previously said that your last album told stories of your childhood.
SG: This one is definitely more mature, and I’m not really talking about my childhood so much as I’m talking about just being present. This wasn’t really a contest album, necessarily, but I just wanted to make a collection of songs that I myself would want to listen to. Like I myself am a big fan of road trips, and there’s certain albums I listen to when I’m on road trips because they make me think while I’m driving and that kind of stuff, so I wanted this album to be one of those—a great driving album, and something that I would actually buy.
WSN: You mentioned in a previous interview that you like being you in your rawest form versus an overproduced version of yourself (even aesthetically, with lots of makeup, etc.). What does that raw version of you really look like?
SG: I mean, this album is that. It’s definitely not overproduced as a lot of songs are, and some don’t even have drums on them. I wanted to do what was best for each song, instead of trying to make it like a big-sounding thing. One of my favorite songs on the album, “Moving Mountains,” has no drums on it and is a guitar-vocal kind of song. When I said ‘look,’ I think it comes down to how you dress and how you present yourself too. There’s a lot of really over-done-up people, I think, with tons of makeup and tons of crazy clothes, and I’m doing the opposite of that with this album and putting out really authentic, raw music. That’s also how I’m presenting myself too, like I don’t plan on wearing a lot of makeup and stuff, so this whole project is the most raw, authentic version of me that people have seen.
Skylar Grey will play a sold-out show with the X Ambassadors at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, this Friday, Oct. 23.
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