As a songwriter, there’s a chance you’ve heard Skylar Grey‘s penmanship from the radio, to commercials, to the movies.
She’s a frequent collaborator with Eminem, lending her hook-writing skills to hits like “Love the Way You Lie” and “Walk on Water,” which features a little someone named Beyoncé.
Along with all of this, Skylar has been making her own music for years with her last effort, 2016’s Natural Causes, being a favorite amongst critics for its eclectic sound.
Now with Skylar’s upcoming music, she plans on connecting back with her roots for a folk album. We caught up with her last month at a wine tasting event in Napa Valley for the Verizon Up rewards program and now we’re checking in with her again for an exclusive interview. If you want to know where Skylar is headed and how far she’s come, peep our quick talk below!
1. What’s it been like connecting to today’s generation using folk music? Do you think it’s different to how you connected to it growing up?
Yeah, well I grew up making folk music with my mom, and for the past 10 years I took quite a departure from that. So I felt it was time to take it back to my roots. The songs I am writing these days are reminiscent of the classic Laurel Canyon vibe of the 1970’s artists like Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, which I used to listen to on vinyl. But my songs will come out on things like iTunes and Spotify! Haha. I believe good songs are good songs. No matter how they are heard. What matters most is if the lyrics and melody are meaningful and moving.
2. You collaborated with some heavyweights on Eminem’s “Walk on Water” – Beyoncé, Rick Rubin. Can you explain how that collaboration process was like?
When I found out Eminem was making another album, I reached out to see what kind of things he was looking for, and got some inspiration. When I write for other artists, I like to imagine myself in their shoes and think, “if I was them, what would I want to write about that I haven’t already?” Then I went through my notes on my iPhone and found a few lines I had written down, “I walk on water, but I ain’t no Jesus, I walk on water, but only when it freezes” and thought that could be perfect for him because after all, he is a “rap god” and I can only imagine what kind of pressures that comes with. So I put the words to music and sent it off. I didn’t find out until last minute that Beyoncé had recorded it, but it made perfect sense because she is a goddess as well. Hearing people like Rihanna and Beyoncé sing the melodies and lyrics I create never gets old… it’s such a rush for me.
3. Is there anyone who you haven’t written for that you’d like to write for?
I always answer this question with Kendrick Lamar. But there are so many others. One thing I love about being a songwriter is I get to work in all kinds of genres. But one genre I haven’t written for is big pop vocal stuff, like Céline Dion. I would love to write for her.
4. Since you’ve written a lot of rap hooks, what’s your favorite rap hook of all time?
That I didn’t write? “Stan” (Eminem). Nothing tops “Stan” for me.
5. You’ve also worked on blockbuster movie soundtracks. Any summer movies you’re excited for? Any one you’d like to create a song for?
I’m so out of the loop on whats coming out… other than the soundtracks I’m currently working on! But they’re top secret!