Skylar Grey Shoots a “Cannonball”; Free Pizza for Everyone

For years, Skylar Grey has been the go-to artist to collaborate with. Everyone from Eminem to Diddy to Moby. The singer/songwriter is also as in-demand for her songwriting skills – arguably more than Cabbage Patch Kids were in the 1980s and the app-enabled BB-8 toy was during Christmas. Last year, the five-time Grammy nominee released an inspiring new single “Cannonball” featuring alt-breakout artists X Ambassadors, and will release a new full-length later this year. She also toured with that band, by the way, toward the tail end of the year.

A-Sides caught up with Grey right before the holidays by phone as she was vacationing in Hawaii. This very jealous interviewer found her to be extremely down-to-earth, and psyched to have new material come our way.

“Cannonball” is an awesome track. Talk to me about how your collaboration with X Ambassadors came about.
They’re my label mates, and really great guys. They’re so talented and just so genuine.

You’ve been fortunate to collaborate with so many artists in various genres. Do you find yourself being sort of a sponge and learning from artist to artist?
Every collaboration, I learn something different. Sometimes it’s what not to do, but it’s never a waste. That’s how you learn about yourself and grow. It’s good to go and do those things, and then come back to your center and use what you’ve learned.

Do you ever pinch yourself? Not everyone can say they worked with Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj… I mean I’ll stop there. The list just goes on and on.
It’s just been such a journey with a lot of ups and downs. I’ve been working professionally since age six. It’s an interesting life. I’d been working on [my career] for years, and then suddenly overnight, this is my life.

Your super respected and super known, but I’d imagine you can still keep some anonymity when you’re in public, right? Like, I don’t know if you go to a muffin shop or something… are there muffin shops? That was dumb. Sorry.
Well, I’m pretty much addicted to Starbucks. I get recognized occasionally. But, I can keep a low profile, and when I’m recognized, I’m always caught off guard. I’m shocked that they recognize me.

New Years resolutions can be lame and often unfulfilled, but have you come up with one you plan to stick with for 2016?
I’d say to reach out to my loved ones more often. We all have busy lives, and it gets in the way. But, it’s so Important to say hello and not just on a birthday.

And I’d imagine a resolution is to tour and put out the album…
Well, yes. Professionally, the album is pretty much done. For now I’m pretty close to finishing it. I don’t think it’s ever done, but you reach a point where you just send it off to get packaged. Even on my last album, the day before packaging, I was still mixing a song.

Can you listen to your own music?
I’m pretty hard on myself. But, as an artist, I just try to keep evolving, keep upbeat about it and get better. I don’t generally listen to myself for pleasure. I tear myself to shreds. I actually set out to make this an album I would listen to and buy. One of my favorite things to do is to just drive up the coast on the 101, and listen to my favorite records… Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar… Radiohead. I wanted the new album to be on that playlist.

Is there any less pressure to get music out since you’ve had such success in the past, and the new single is already out?
There’s not a rush to get something out. [In the past], I always had to please a lot of people along the way. For this time around, I kind of told the label that I just wanted to make a beautiful record and not compromise at all. I got their support, and I’m really grateful. Some aren’t lucky enough to say that.

Hey everybody, Free Pizza!
Not really. The band that goes by that name hail from Boston, and their brand of pop are just as satisfying as a slice. The band (Jesus Vio, Santiago Cárdenas, and Rory MacMurdo) took a break for a bit, but will be back with a new album soon enough. In the meantime, you can listen to their Kool is The Rool EP. Anyway, the band filmed an A-Sides session late last year, and you can see it below. You can also hear it as well unless your speakers are off.

A-Sides’ “Delve Into Twelve” Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its top 12 tracks of the week AKA the “Delve Into Twelve” based on the following contributing factors: songs I’m playing out that particular week (no matter when they were released — think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and dug a bunch, song posts and trends I’ve noticed on my friends’ Facebook walls and, most importantly: what my toddler is currently enjoying thoroughly with an assist from my infant.

About A-Sides with Jon Chattman:
Jon Chattman’s music/entertainment series typically features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists featured on the series include Imagine Dragons, Melissa Etheridge, Air Supply, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, fun, Bleachers, Charli XCX, Marina and the Diamonds, and Bastille.