Last year, we introduced you to NYC based singer-songwriter Skela, and now, we’re catching up with her in the midst of her latest release: Project 10.
As an artist, Skela catches the ears of listeners with her powerhouse pop vocals, but her DIY spirt and indie approach really connects her to her community. Whether it be a poetry zine, the photo series called “Be Your Own Indie Boy” that Skela collaborated with photographer Rachel Turley on, or the frequent behind-the-scenes updates that she posts on her social media, Skela is all about staying connected with her community via different art mediums that accompany her music.
This year, Skela amplified the level of creative content she produces along with her music when she set out to do a ten part music video project with her friends Rachel Turley and Zoe Kraft. As we catch up with the singer and artist, see what Skela, Turley, and Kraft have to say about the process behind the project.
In a nutshell, what exactly is Project 10?
Skela: Project 10 is 10 songs and 10 music videos released over the course of 20 weeks. Everything was made with friends. The project is about building together. It’s a countdown. When the 10th song and music video are released - I’m going to unveil a “secret” but it’s really a secret project I’ve been working on.
Can you describe the moment when you came up with this idea and what inspired you to start the project?
Skela: Everyone knows it’s really fucking hard being an artist - but I was making it hard on myself by putting limits on myself. I came up with Project 10 because I wanted to put music out, I wanted to run around New York City making cool shit with my friends, I wanted all the good parts of being an artist - doing, creating, putting something out into the world. I know I’m a multifaceted artist, but no one else did. I came up with 10 because at the end of the countdown - it’s going to bring on the next phase of my life.
Once you had the idea for the project, how did you decide to enlist Rachel and Zoe for help? Was there anyone else you considered asking to help or did you always know it would be you three?
Skela: Well they’re my friends so that’s how I initially thought to ask them, but I also respect them both immensely as creative minds. Rachel helps me with the creative behind Skela so that was a natural fit, but Zoe lives in Chicago. I actually flew her out to work on this project. She creates genuinely and it shows through her work.
We actually did have to pull a couple of favors from friends to make this project happen, but it was always just us three at the drawing board. I wanted this project to be as much mine as it is theirs. I might be Skela, but I would be no one with out my friends. I think it’s so weird when artists try to take credit for everything - like there weren’t so many people who contributed their intellectual property. I recognize what a sacrifice that is - how being creative isn’t just whimsical, it’s hard work and sacrifice. By it being the three of us behind these music videos - I hoped it would help bring their talents to light as well.
What were some challenges you faced working on this project?
Zoe: Even with the amount of planning that we put into the project, there was so much that we had to do on the fly. The hardest part was letting things go that were out of our hands. Sometimes we couldn’t get a shot we wanted or we didn’t have time to try alt takes.
Rachel: Finding enough time to sleep.
On the flip side, what were some of your favorite moments working on the project?
Zoe: Without a doubt, my favorite part of Project 10 was getting to work with such creative ladies. Skela and Rachel both have unique visions. It’s refreshing to get to work with people willing to do things that are different and so genuine. The atmosphere was very important in making this project come together. If we hadn’t gotten along as well as we did, especially with the pressure that we had put ourselves under, there is no way we could have accomplished what we did.
Rachel: The whole thing was honestly unbelievably fun. I worked with my best friends everyday, being purely, uninhibitedly creative. A stand out moment to me had to be when we built a “sailboat” in the middle of a field at 5 in the morning while the sun rose. I’ll never forget how happy I was I got to experience that.
Who are some filmmakers, photographers, or directors who inspire each of you?
Skela: Tim Burton everything and always. I love his brain.
I love this one photographer who goes by Earthly Cruel Photos… she’s really good. I heard she’s horrible to work with though…. just kidding. It’s Rachel [Turley]. Go follow her.
Zoe: Jean-Luc Godard
Rachel: Super into Daniel Arnold’s street photography. I am so enamored with his eye and the amusing way he captures New York; he makes it look like a playground of oddities, a museum of all the moments in the city worth seeing that you missed.
How would each of you sum up your artistic vision and/or aesthetic in three words?
Skela: DIY, Latina-Gaga, Red.
Zoe: Abstract, Dark (in concept), Colorful (visually)
Rachel: Unprofessional, pseudo-grunge, and fake bougie.
Having done this project now with such a time crunch in place, what is some advice you'd give other artists wanting to do something like this?
Skela: Work with people who care about making something genuine - not perfect. There will be a time and place for perfection - but the now is more interesting.
Zoe: 1. Make sure you are working with people you want to create with.
2. Sometimes you have to let go of the things that you planned for, but don’t let that discourage you.
3. If you don’t haveeee to rush it, don’t. Because we are all working artists, this was the most feasible way we could accomplish getting the work done.
Rachel: Know what you’re signing up for! It’s so hard so make sure you’re doing it with people you really get along with that share your vision and work pace. It’s like an intensive art summer camp. You have to show up excited, ready to work hard and be down for anything. That’s how you end up making the greatest bonds and walking away with the best experience. Just know what you’re signing up for and you’ll walk away with art you’re proud of.