Get To Know: Skela
Independent, fearless, genuine: Skela is the New York based singer-songwriter you need to know about. A power vocalist and a poet with the knack for crafting catchy pop melodies, Skela's not afraid to pack a punch with her message. After playing an incredible show at The Mercury Lounge in NYC last month, Skela took some time to chat with ANCHR about her upcoming debut EP, new music video, and her other writing projects. Get ready for Skela's takeover in 2017 by reading up on 6 things you have to know about Skela.
Powerful Vocalists and a Chipmunk-Tuned Cassette Player Got Her Started in Singing
As a self-taught musician, Skela definitely took an unconventional approach in teaching herself to sing. "I actually have one really distinct memory," She revealed. "My earliest memory with music and realizing how obsessed I was with it...I used to live in Sunnyside in Queens, and we had this little Mickey Mouse cassette player. I was really little, I think I was maybe 5. It had this little chipmunk option that made it go really, really fast. It was this song called “Toy Soldiers" on one side, and on the other side was Mariah Carey or something. And I remember that’s how I taught myself how to sing. By mimicking exactly what I heard over and over again, and I would mimic the chipmunk voice. I wanted to sing high. That’s when I first started singing. I would do that all the time until my mom came in one day like 'What are you doing?” I was like in a trance, it was just so normal to me," she continued.
As far as other inspirations behind teaching herself to sing, Skela credits a lot of female power vocalists, from popstars to pop punk front women. "It’s so broad, it changes over the years when you go through different phases," Skela says about her influences. "Growing up I guess I started off with all the great vocalists. You know, Aretha, Etta James...Christina Aguilera was huge. Mariah Carey. We would listen to a lot of Janet Jackson. As I grew older and kind of got my own ears going, I would listen to The Beatles all the time. I went through that whole emo pop-punk phase of Paramore, you know," she revealed.
Although her influences include a meld of all these different artists and they're ever-changing, Skela says, "I definitely started out with vocalists. That was like my number one. It still is. I could listen to Ariana Grande sing for days."
She Directed Her Upcoming Music Video
Skela's got a new single on the way, but rather than just releasing the song, she's going all out. The new track, called "Hella," will be accompanied by a music video that she directed. Talking more about the new video, Skela says, "We have Mithsuca Berry as the romantic lead, then the very talented photographer based in New York called Maksim Axelrod. I’m just so excited. I feel like it really is coming together artistically." The new single was originally scheduled to drop in April, but it sounds like everything will be well worth the wait. "We’re wanting to make everything kind of perfect," Skela elaborates about the pushed release date, also mentioning the wonderful flexibility and freedom that comes with being an independent artist. Regardless of the exact release date, get ready to be "Hella Skela" when this music video drops!
She's Not Far From Releasing Her Highly Anticipated EP
Skela says that her EP should arrive shortly after her new single premieres. Speaking of new music, some lucky New Yorkers recently got to hear some of the new tracks performed live at Skela's show at The Mercury Lounge last month. Talking about the show, Skela gushes, "I was actually shocked how well it went. It was a pretty packed room. Which is crazy. I’m a small artist, I’m pretty indie...So to have so many people out was really really special. We had a lot of cross promotion with a company called What’s in Your Box? And then we had female based brands like Millioneiress. We just had a lot of love and support. The new music went over so well. Like all of the unreleased music that we played people were like 'Where can I hear that?' And that’s such a good sign that people want to hear it again. I can’t wait to put out the new music. I just can’t wait."
Skela also revealed more about the theme of her new music and her writing process when we chatted. "I think I’m kind of like an odd songwriter because I never really...," she pauses before continuing on to say, "I do write about experiences and events to a certain degree, but most of my music is based off of the literature and the subjects I’m interested in within a certain time period. You know what I mean? I read up a lot on my interests and all of that sort of pours through to poetry, and then I’ll make songs from the poetry. So I’m hoping to release some poetry with the EP. I guess it just shows a little more of what the songs truly are about."
In a way, you could say that her poetry is the skeleton of Skela songs (say that five times fast).
Her Advice For Other Independent Artists Is...
Skela recently wrote a guest blog for Tunecore about her experience in the industry as an independent musician. Touching more on that subject, and being a new artist, Skela gives her number one piece of advice. "You’re just so overwhelmed with where to start. And just eager. But I think-- just navigate from a point of rationality and logic as best as you can, and it’s gonna take a while 'til you can. Cause you’re so eager that you’re just down for anything and excited to work with everyone. That’s so great, but at the same time, you should be focusing on who you are and what’s right for you. What’s your decision. It’s easy to let people tell you what to do, from agents to managers to you know, anyone with opinions. It really takes a long time to be like no, I got this. I got this cause I got me. For me, my number one thing is just to stay as grounded as possible. And not in a humble way. In a literal, grounded place. Be grounded in your music and who you are. That’s a very hard part of chasing your dream. You lose that because you get discouraged, or you get one good thing that happens to you and it doesn’t work out. Then you’re devastated again. Just staying grounded."
For anyone starting a creative project, not just in the music industry, that advice to remember your intent behind the art is so important.
She's Not Just a Singer, But a Screenwriter As Well
Singer, songwriter, director, poet, blogger, and that's not all. The gem of Skela's writing possesses many different facets. "I actually just wrote a short film script," Skela says while talking about what's next for her this year. "It’s going into production this year, and I’m actually really excited about that. That’ll be pretty cool to have my first screenplay actually going into production. It’s called 'Le Reve,' and it’s being produced and directed by a very close friend of mine, Chiara Gerek," she continued.
So besides the massive amounts of writing talents, does Skela have any secret talents? "I don’t know if this is a talent, but I always twirl my hair, and I can do it really fast. It’s more of a nervous tick, really," she confesses.
She's Got a Love For Lo-fi Music
Skela will easily become one of your favorite musicians once her EP comes out, but talking about her favorites, she says, "I’ve been listening nonstop to this one artist called Ben Rosenfield. He’s very awesome. I have this big love for lo-fi music. I’ve been listening to him a lot. I always go back to the basics, like [Sandy] Alex G...Day Wave...Mitski. Diet Cig is really dope, they just came out with a new EP that’s really good. Those are the ones that I go back to. Oh, Active Bird Community. My friend- he goes by Kraus, but his name is Will Kraus and he’s super talented. I feel like he’s about to blow up in that scene. I listen to that music pretty regularly, and it serves as a strange platform for pop music. If you listen to the new music, you’ll definitely hear it. It’s in the melody...it’s all over."
Elaborating specifically on her favorite local artists, Skela has some hot tips about the NYC scene. "I have some friends and musicians that I think are really talented, and I really only try to work with people that I genuinely support and love. A few of them are Josh Jacobson. He’s a producer and a songwriter I work with. He’s dope...he’s got great stuff coming out. Florio. He actually opened for me at the show. Then the Frances Rose girls are so talented. They’re kind of Synth, 80's pop. This girl May, she is amazing. She has this crazy voice, just crazy operatic training behind her. There’s a lot of great musicians in New York, but I feel like right now those are the ones I really pay the most attention to cause they’re somewhat in my lane, but I also really admire them," she says.