Despite being only 11-years-old when she got her musical start, Skyler Cocco admits that she was “surprisingly just as angsty as” she is now. In a band with her friend called Double Sunday, they were dramatic in all aspects only the lyrical content was based around a tweens troubles. The New York-based artist remembers, “At 11 I’d be writing a melancholy song about not being allowed to have a pet cat and in retrospect that’s obviously not as earth shattering as my experiences today at 23.”
We talked about her progression as an artist, as she’s left the feline-centric lyrics in the past and has moved on to hip-hop and now is settled in a grunge pop realm with her 2017 release, Reverie. We also learned about a Chipotle scandal and so much more…
Kendra: As you got older you got involved with hip-hop music. Did you ever think that was going to be the route your career took?
Skyler Cocco: My freshman, sophomore and junior year of college I was very much focused on a pop/R&B career. Writing hooks has been something I’ve been doing unknowingly since I was a kid, as I always heard melodies in my head and practiced writing what sounded catchy to me. So to have a career writing hooks and producing hip hop music sounded like a dream. During that time I had some meetings with a few A&R reps who had an entirely different idea of what my music should sound like (commercial pop) and I’m very thankful that I chose my own route. Writing and producing alternative music is more gratifying to me, more interesting to play with and much more honest in terms of deeper lyrics, my hip hop writing sat on the surface.
Kendra: Do you approach how you worked on hip hop tracks to how you write and compose your own music now?
Skyler: I think the biggest difference between how I approach my songwriting now is that I have gotten into the habit of writing on my guitar more. When I was writing hip hop I’d produce the song first, then as I was producing I would get melody/lyric ideas and start writing the song simultaneously. Now I usually get a riff on my guitar first, and then start playing around with melodies over it. Having the foundation of the song set makes a session go a lot easier, and allows me to focus on adding little nuances and embellishments that really personalize my sound.
Kendra: Having a more grunge sound now. How do you like to keep those ’90s grunge elements alive and well?
Skyler: Lots and lots of distortion, harmonies and heavy hitting drums. My whole life I’ve been into heavy music, it’s probably the most exciting music to me personally, to feel the whirlwind of emotions in a song between the grit. While I was writing Reverie I listened to a ton of Soundgarden and tried to imagine my voice over it. I’ve definitely incorporated a lot of grunge vocal harmonization from bands like Alice in Chains and Nirvana, and I’m all about getting the bass as fuzzy as possible. My music does have “pop tendencies” so I try to make the added synths as grungy as possible with overdrive and running them through amps.
Kendra: You’re not shy about getting personal in your music. Your debut, Reverie, covers A LOT. Was it therapeutic to get all of that out in song?
Skyler: I actually felt relieved, because my music for so long was very superficial in terms of lyric content, and I didn’t think I was really connecting with my audience. I was very shy about letting my personal life to be exposed in my music, but as I’ve grown I learned that everyone has shortcomings and you’re not going to be judged for having real emotions. I want my voice to allow others to recognize in themselves and in others that we all carry burdens and we should be able to feel it, express it and heal.
Kendra: When is the last time someone did something so ridiculous that you thought they had “Some Nerve?”
Skyler: Someone who stole my credit card information and spent $185 at Chipotle. Who. Does. That.
Kendra: Okay, so the new album just dropped at the end of June so what’s up with the second half of the year?
Skyler: I’m going to play as many shows as I can with my band, finishing up music videos for some tracks on the album and I’m starting to work on my next record. I’m also involved in another music project called Elektrisk Gønner (electric-pop duo) and we are releasing a single in the fall.
Kendra: Going back in time, if 11-year-old you had to make a mixtape of the music inspiring her to write, what five songs would have to be on it?
Skyler: This was during a time where I could only listen to the radio and my Walkman with CD’s from Tower Records, so don’t laugh:
The Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Soul To Squeeze”
Luscious Jackson – “Naked Eye”
Stone Temple Pilots – “Plush”
System Of A Down – “Chop Suey!”