Photo of Skylar Grey by Tyler Shields
After releasing her magnetic new single "Cannonball" last month, Skylar Grey is now on the road with her co-writers for the song, X Ambassadors, as she focuses on new music.
The collaboration came together easily because they're label mates on Alex Da Kid's KIDinaKORNER Records. "We’re in the same studio all the time, so it made sense for us to work together," recalls Grey, speaking with Variance ahead the start of the tour. "It was Alex's idea. He wrote a track and X Ambassadors wrote a hook and I started working on some verses and the bridge, and it just happened."
"Cannonball" marks the beginning of a new chapter for Grey, after the 2013 release of her debut album as Skylar Grey, Don't Look Down. And despite some hefty guest appearances from the likes of Eminem, Big Sean and Travis Barker, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter isn't that eager to look back.
"It was a weird thing," she says. "Because that album had been in the making for so long that I was at the point of, ‘Let’s just put this out and move on.’"
Pointing to her musical family roots and eclectic music tastes, Grey says she's been aching to "make something that speaks to me, something that I would actually buy. Honestly, I wouldn’t buy my last album," she confesses rather bluntly. "I mean, I’m happy with some of the songs and it was fine, but if it was an album by another artist, would I buy it? No. I like some really avant-garde shit."
From Grey's perspective, that's not necessarily a dig at her previous efforts so much as it is reflective of where she is now. "The good thing for me is that now that the first album is out there and there's this foundation in place, I can put whatever I want on top of it. I feel like expectations are out of the way, like I can do what I want with this next album."
And that's exactly what she intends to do. While "Cannonball" serves as the lead single for the forthcoming, yet-untitled LP, Grey says it's "probably the most energetic song on the record, but the rest of it is where my heart is and kind of weird," she explains with a slight chuckle. "There’s a folk element throughout the album. Like, there’s a song called ‘Gone Fishing’ and it’s folky but it’s super weird. I did a lot of the songs with Mike Elizondo (Eminem, Dr. Dre) and he’s just a creative genius. I love it."
Although Don't Look Down was perhaps a polished, label-approved offering, Grey believes listeners will hear "a more authentic side of me" on her upcoming album. But it wouldn't be possible had it not been for the previous set. "I think now that people aren’t expecting a certain thing from me, it's kind of liberating."
While Grey estimates the album will be released sometime early next year, she admits it's still being decided by the label heads. But fans who catch her on tour will have the chance to hear new material first.
See Skylar Grey's upcoming tour dates here.