By: Rashida Ashley
Photography: Kigon Kwak
Music is an art that tends to bring people from all walks of life together. So what are the important elements that go into one single song? What are the thoughts behind the instrumentation? What are the relationships between those who collaborate together? How does a song come to life through a music video? Pop and R&B star Skylar Stecker gives impressionable insight through her recent song “You” and EP “Earth Signs.”
The multi-talented artist and daughter of NFL star Aaron Stecker has topped Billboard charts with three #1 singles, has been featured on YouTube’s R&B Wave playlist as an Artist on the Rise as well as Vevo’s Pop-Teen playlist, and has been deemed as artist of the month on the Today Show by popular radio host Elvis Duran. Skylar’s involvement through all aspects of the production of her craft further serves as evidence to how she has become so successful in her career.
Being dedicated to learning about the language of music, Skylar has poured herself into every step of the process. She immerses herself in vocal recording, production, stage performances, and choreography, all while mastering instruments such as the guitar, drums, and piano. This drive allows her to cultivate a world she and her fans can enjoy thoroughly.
You are a young artist with a hand in many elements that go into making your music come to life. What were some of your struggles in mastering your craft and how did you overcome them?
Maintaining consistency and balancing growing as a young artist in the industry, while trying to find myself during different stages of my life and also thinking long term at the same time. It’s all been challenging, then adding having to deal with being a woman in the industry as well; trying to be heard and not undermined. But with every negative there’s also those challenges that have helped get me to where I am today. I am so grateful for all those things, but I think it’s definitely my ‘keep going’ attitude, and trying to stay true to myself along with the process that has helped me overcome it all.
How have your fans contributed to the world you are creating through your music?
I started performing when I was nine. Now at 19, I would say I’ve grown up with a lot of my fans. I’m very grateful that most have been here since the beginning, which has been incredible and amazing for all of us to kind of go through things together, like figuring out our places in the world. I’ve tried to be honest and transparent with my struggles while also encouraging fans to be open and transparent with me as well, which also helps with my music and the topics that I choose to sing and write about. So, even though I didn’t have a traditional childhood, I feel like I still had my childhood friends going through those same experiences with me, just in a slightly different way. It’s been interesting and fun.
How has being a self-taught multi-instrumentalist impacted how you make your music?
It’s helped tremendously. When I first started, I only played piano and now I play piano, guitar, and drums. I also vocal produce, produce, etc. Being involved in the musical process and the writing side is very important for me. I’m a part of every single one of my songs; and now, being able to translate more through the musicality side of it has been super helpful and amazing. Although I’m still not as experienced as some of the people I work with, having more knowledge and being more aware of the terminologies, knowing what I want to say and the instrumentation I want to use in a song helps to convey my feelings and what’s really within me to the listener.
How is your most recent song a reflection of where you are now as an artist?
Lyrically, I tend to like things that are a little bit deeper and sensual in tone. When it comes to the instrumentation side, I grew up with music from the 90s, like Destiny’s Child and even earlier music like New Edition, implementing their sounds into my music but keeping it mainstream and current. Adding a new and fresh spin on that is fun for me. As far as where I am in my life concerning “You” and with this project, I feel like I’ve done a good job of translating that. Also, this is the first project that I’ve released as an adult. My last album was released when I was 16, so I have different experiences. I’ve also grown a lot in my personal life as a young woman and the things I want to say and how I want to say them are different from my past projects.
What inspired the choreography for your song “You?”
I worked on it with one of my choreographers. She’s amazing! I’ve been working with her for a while now. When I sent her the song, I had the black and white video in mind already, which is kind of like the throwback vibes. I wanted something that translated that, and I also knew I wanted to dance for the video. So, I decided on choreography that was captivating but still simplistic at the same time and that kind of told a little bit of a story. So, it started with me, and the quote unquote love interest, the main male dancer, and then it kind of translates to him with this other female dancing which then goes into all of us together. Then I have this moment where I’m by myself and I’m kind of like in my head. So even though to the average person we’re just doing choreography, we set it up in the best way possible for a story to be behind the movement. It was all really fun.
Through each song you’ve made, you have developed a keen identity of who you are as an artist. What were/are some of the major key points that define(d) you as a R&B artist?
A lot of struggles have helped define who I am. Looking back, I tried to make the best decisions possible based on what I thought made the most sense, not just at that time, but also for the future. So, I don’t have regrets. Also, dealing with others’ opinions is something that I think has shaped me and given me a lot of confidence. During this project, and honestly, I would say just this year, I’ve really developed a confidence with my inner self and my worth. If I had an opinion or a strong view on something, I would speak up, whereas before I felt like I would let other people’s opinions dictate the decisions that I made.
For more about Skylar and her music follow her on Instagram
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