- Words Miriam Balanescu
Hollywood’s latest pop-punk rocker, Shai Skye, chats with Notion about getting back at exes through music, her icy beginnings, and where she’s going next.
Raised among the snow-capped mountains of Juneau, Alaska, Shai Skye turned to music as a means of escape. She began penning songs, then, after discovering dance, performed competitively around the state.
At 16, the Alaskan artist ditched school and her hometown, swapping cold climates for the star bedecked streets of Hollywood. Out on a limb, Skye’s chance encounter with indie band leader STEEN put her on a new track, after she was taken under his wing.
The 21-year-old is now the protégé of STEEN, along with his old friend, the producer Justin Raisen. Ready to release her music into the world, her pop-punk single “Paramour” is fresh out this month.
Notion caught up with Shai Skye about leaving Alaskan shores for Los Angeles, nurturing her sound, and dreaming of making music in France.
What was the inspiration behind “Paramour”?
Writing this song was actually years in the making during a relationship going sour. We’ve all found ourselves at the end of our rope staring across the table at a partner who suddenly feels like a stranger. Talking about it to friends didn’t help much. Writing this song and putting pen to paper was the only remedy for me.
How did you go about writing this song?
It’s incredibly easy for my brain to get distracted by outside noise. Whenever I write, I have to force the pen into my hand and shut out all other sounds. This particular song was actually written and recorded in a sort of off-the-cuff-manner. I was making another song with STEEN and we started writing “Paramour” in order to momentarily distract ourselves from a bit of writer’s block. It came out almost serendipitously. I felt an immediate connection to it and didn’t stop working on it until it was complete.
How did you first get into punk/rock music?
Ever since I could walk, I was always enamored by the plaid, the hair colors, the sounds they created. Punk Rock has been around for decades, and it sometimes dies off for a bit, then comes back in full force again. I love the resilience of the genre, and I just have so much fun talking shit about the boys who’ve hurt me.
Which artists have been your biggest musical influences?
I’ve always loved bands like No Doubt and Paramore; they’re essential to this genre. But I think that growing up listening to artists like Fleetwood Mac, Madonna, and Prince, I developed an eclectic taste which I couldn’t really narrow down to one category.
How did growing up in Alaska and your upbringing feed into your music?
Growing up in Alaska, especially Southeast where you are landlocked, you can feel disconnected from the rest of the world. Music was something that made me feel in touch. It was also a great escape from life’s harsh realities.
How did the support of STEEN and Justin Raisen change you as an artist?
STEEN found me. I was hanging out with friends just messing around in a jam session when he came in. He saw something in me that I didn’t even realize was there. I’ve always loved to sing and secretly dreamed of performing my own songs, but I honestly didn’t think I would ever see that dream become reality. I used to be petrified singing in front of people, but with STEEN’s encouragement I’ve found new confidence in my sound and now my favorite thing to do is perform. My music relationship with Justin Raisen has just begun. His excitement about my brand and sound has made me even more confident and I look forward to the work we are planning to do together. Justin is a great producer and I am honored to work with him.
What do you hope listeners will take from your music?
I hope they’ll take whatever they need at the moment. I feel, at least in my personal experience, that music has healing properties. Creating music gave me such newfound confidence in myself, I hope I can portray that well enough to inspire others creatively as well.
What can we expect from your future tracks?
That’s a great question. I want to continue pushing my boundaries and bringing the things I love from other genres into my sound. I don’t ever want to feel like I’m at a dead-end or in a mold, creatively. I want to keep telling my stories while still giving people the backdrop to be able to turn the stereo up and dance or yell or cry or throw shit.
What would your dream collaboration be?
If I ever had the opportunity to work with Gwen Stefani and pick her brain, I think I would just drop dead on site.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Well — that’s a loaded question. I have so many places I want to see before I’m in the ground. I have always had the childhood fantasy of exploring France for a couple of months and doing nothing but eating and drinking wine and writing music.