Skylar Grey Jumps “In the Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
New York, N.Y. -- A rose by any other name may still smell as sweet, but a switched-up moniker can have surprisingly profound effects on the course of a career. Case in point: the singer-songwriter formerly-known as Holly Brook--or, as she's now known, Skylar Grey. Call it a fortuitous coincidence, but since adopting her new nom de plume, the Wonderland/Interscope signee has skyrocketed into the public consciousness, scoring guest appearances and songwriting credits with artists like Eminem and Rihanna ("Love the Way You Lie," "Love the Way You Lie (Pt. 2)"), Dr. Dre ("I Need a Doctor"), Diddy-Dirty Money and Lupe Fiasco ("Words I Never Said"). Now, the Mazomanie, Wisconsin-bred buzzmaker is preparing to take center stage with the impending release of Invinsible, her second studio album and her debut as Skylar Grey. Preceded by singles "Dance Without You" and "Invisible," the set is scheduled to arrive on store shelves this fall.
In an exclusive, five-question interview, Skylar Grey steps into the Booth to discuss her experience performing at this month's Lollapalooza festival, whether her solo sound will surprise those who know her through her guest work with urban heavyweights, and the surprising inspiration behind her LP title.
Your current single, Invisible, is beginning to gain some traction. Does this record accurately represent your transition from (your former stage name) Holly Brook to your current moniker, Skylar Grey?
Invisible is just the beginning of the story of my transformation over the past few years into Skylar Grey. As Holly Brook, I felt like all of my efforts were going unnoticed, which caused a deep depression. But the real problem was that I was always trying to please other people, instead of being responsible for my own happiness, and by recognizing that I started my journey from invisible to invincible.
Around some circles you've been dubbed "The girl who helps rappers make #1 records." Do you think the urban mainstream audience, who has been previously introduced to your work through B.o.B, Diddy-Dirty Money and Dr. Dre, will embrace your solo sound?
I think my solo sound is way more diverse than what I've done in the past in hip hop, so some songs on my album might catch people off guard, and others will fulfill certain expectations. However, I believe having expectations is unhealthy. I am the type of artist who will refuse to be pigeonholed into a certain box and will constantly be experimenting. Keep an open mind.
The title of your forthcoming major label debut is "Invinsible." Does this album title best describe you as a person (in the face of adversity) or your music (standing up against the test of time)?
"INVINSIBLE" is a word Marilyn Manson came up with to title my album, because it encompasses my transformation from invisible to invincible. To me, feeling invincible means refusing to let other people control your life or hurt you. It's all in the mind.
Earlier this month you performed at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Did the experience meet, exceed or fall short of your expectations, and why?
Lolla was fun. I was surprised by the number of people at my stage. And performing with Eminem in front of nearly a hundred thousand people was pretty thrilling.
Just recently you tweeted "Finally a day off!" What does an artist like yourself, who is in that non-stop grinding portion of their career, do on their much-deserved day off?
My days off usually consist of running errands, working out or taking a walk outside, watching a good movie or two and having a good hard cry. Maybe a massage. And a LOT of sleep.