Whether you know Skylar Grey from her songwriting work with insanely popular artists like Eminem and Rihanna (remember "Love the Way You Lie"?) or completely obsessed with her 2013 release, Don't Look Down, there are plenty of good reasons to love the "Wreak Havoc" musician. With her latest feature on the Suicide Squad soundtrack, and a new record, Natural Causes, coming out on September 23 (yes, today—pre-order here!) the Wisconsin native is about to embark on a 12-date tour bringing her new tracks to cities like New York, San Francisco, and Detroit.
Before she hit the road, though, we caught up with Skylar about everything from salt and vinegar chips to Atoms for Peace and Band tees. Read more in our interview below, but first we need to let you in on a little secret: If you Track Skylar on Bandsintown and RSVP to one of her shows, you'll get a surprise! We can't tell you exactly what it is, but we can tell you, it's awesome.
Yes, I did.
I would have to go to Madison, because I grew up in a really small town, Mazomanie. We didn’t even have stoplights, so I had to drive into Madison to see music. There was a big jazz scene there, and I actually got into it a little bit—like sitting in with some jazz bands and musicians and stuff. So my first concert was a band from out-of-town, Alison Krauss & Union Station. And it blew my mind. It was amazing.
I’ve seen Eminem and Rihanna perform.
Yeah, I’ve seen them perform it multiple times. Once at V Fest, then obviously the Grammys. I’ve seen Kaskade—he’s got a crazy light show.
Well I’ve played some of these songs live on the last two tours already, and obviously people didn’t know the songs because the music wasn’t out yet, but I still got to see the way the crowd reacted to the songs, and it’s really fun to play “Straight Shooter,” so I’m looking forward to playing that one again. Also, I’m excited to play “Wreak Havoc” off The Suicide Squad soundtrack because I haven’t performed that before, and it’s full of energy—and I’m rapping, so that’ll be a fun one to do.
For the food? Um, actually I think New York. I always have such great meals in New York. Last time we were there, a few times ago I guess, I ate at Carbone. It’s so amazing—it was like the best meal of my life.
Just a bunch of different things that we shared, and the caprese salad is out of this world. Obviously it’s Italian, so there’s good pastas and stuff. But it’s just incredible. Great wine and everything.
My favorite artists are Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, and Bon Iver, so those are my favorite albums to listen to anytime. Especially when I’m alone and driving. I guess I made my album—I don’t feel like it compares to those masterpieces—but just kind of with those in mind as far as inspiration musically.
I mean, my dream collaboration is Kendrick Lamar, so doing a song and then performing it live would be a huge dream.
I have some old vintage tee shirts. I have a The Police T-shirt. I didn’t get it from an original concert or anything; I bought it at a vintage store. But I have that, and I have a Duran Duran one.
Oh that’s a really good question because I love truck stops—and in the middle of the night, going into a Walmart and buying crayons or something and getting into a creative project on the bus.
But, at a gas station or a truck stop, I love corn nuts, and I get a Vitamin Water usually. Definitely corn nuts, though. Truck stops in the middle of the country have weird things in them sometimes, little knick knacks and trinkets. Or they’ll have weird hats, like trucker hats, so sometimes I’ll buy something that’s super random and weird. One time I bought a—I can’t remember where I was—but I bought a hat that has the raccoon tail on it. It wasn’t real, but it was funny. Where were we when I got that? I think it might’ve been in the midwest somewhere.
I saw Atoms for Peace at the Santa Barbara Bowl a few years ago—Atoms for Peace is Thom Yorke of Radiohead’s side project. That was probably my favorite show I’ve ever been to.
It sounded amazing, and everybody was wild onstage. I’m not a huge fan of crazy productions with visuals. Obviously you need to have some visuals, you need to have some lights to set a mood and all that stuff, but, one thing I learned from watching Alison Krauss as a young kid was the musicianship and the songs and everything carried the show. You didn’t need any theatrics, and sometimes bands spend too much time and money on theatrics and not enough time with the music and making it really beautiful and impressive that way. And so, Alison Krauss was a great example of that, but then Atoms for Peace, again, the musicianship was crazy, the performing was crazy, the amount of energy was crazy. Flea on bass, it was insane. So, all of that, it didn’t need extra bells and whistles to be my favorite concert.