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The Shadow and The Spotlight: Skylar Grey
By M. Sean Ryan
Image notwithstanding, she has been anything but obscure in the past year. Grey’s “Love the Way You Lie,” the incendiary duet between Rihanna and Eminem, catapulted atop Billboard’s charts, shattered digital sales records and earned a Grammy nomination. Since its release, Grey—who penned the chorus—has spun together a striking series of hits: writing and singing the melodious hooks driving Diddy-Dirty Money’s “Coming Home,” Lupe Fiasco’s “Words I Never Said” and Dr. Dre’s “I Need A Doctor”—performed at the Grammys—featuring Eminem.
If there’s a thread coursing through Skylar Grey’s hot-streak, it’s UK beat-making phenom Alex da Kid. The prolific producer’s towering, dystopian soundscapes have proven an ideal foil to Grey’s emotive vocals—so much so that Grey is currently the only artist signed to a production deal with Alex, with whom she is recording a solo album for major label release via Interscope.
Though she admits that non-acoustic composition is different, Grey has no desire to work with another producer. “It requires little effort to communicate ideas across,” she says, “it’s natural. We’re both brutal about stuff—we don’t get precious.”
Ironically, the key to the duo’s chemistry is less than harmonious; in the back-and-forth exchange of chord progressions and beats, Grey admits, “We have clashes all the time. I think there’s no other way to make great music with somebody—you have to disagree.” Grey offers a source of contention in the pair’s pushing the music to a point she describes as “almost uncomfortable.” Building from hooks—some of which originated in the creative spurt that furnished “Love The Way You Lie” a year ago—Grey scrutinized words that would do a melody justice: “What makes a song last is the lyric content.”
As with her Grammys spot, the burgeoning chanteuse remains cryptic about her new music. A single is slated for spring-release, but Grey asserts her priority is “creating something cohesive yet diverse,” an album over a heap of singles—that’s terrain she’s already paved with adept stride.