Skyler Day Opens Up About Getting Her Start in Music — Residency Dates at The Hotel Cafe
Los Angeles is the city of a thousand concert venues, and because of that it’s easy to forget that many people who come to partake in the revelry of its glitz and glam are here for the fame promised by elevating themselves to stardom on big and little screens. Music and entertainment often sit hand-in-hand, but it’s not often that the more alternative streams of LA’s music culture would intersect with the money-churning machine that is Hollywood–and that’s where Skyler Day comes in. At 25-years-old, Day might be on the more polished side of folk and country, but with a voice that cuts like silver and a penchant for honest songwriting to boot, she’s poised to make quite the impact with the release of her upcoming second EP.
Since Day’s move to California from Georgia at the age of 13, she’s pushed the envelope on a career that’s revolved around mostly acting; she’s made reoccurring roles on shows like NBC’s Parenthood, as well as with credits on Drop Dead Diva, Law & Order: LA, and CSI: Miami. Her musical exploits, which only surfaced to public knowledge with the beginnings of her debut EP Between the I and the U, went largely under the radar for most of her life and were a creative outlet that she reserved solely for her own personal use.
“It has been kind of my hobby, and since I’ve been an actor and a musician pretty much my whole life, acting was always the thing out of my control. I have to rely on a lot of other elements to happen for me to be able to do it, I have my agents, managers, auditions, and so it’s never really mine,” Day explained. “Music was always this thing I could go to that I could control and be proactive with, in that sense it was very personal–and I was pretty protective of it until very recently. I released my first EP in 2014 and that was my first jump being public with my music, and I’m still pretty hesitant and holding back with it a lot. Recently I just had a change of heart and I want to share these songs with people, and in writing these things and just playing them for family and friends, I really wanted to reach out more with my music.”
As far as beginnings go, Day jokes that she doesn’t want to sound lame and say she started singing “straight out of the womb,” but she does admit that it’s hard to recall how early she started performing in front of people. Coming from a family of performers, as both her parents are gymnasts and Day along with her two siblings have competed as well, she’s perhaps no stranger to the scrutiny that comes with the limelight of acting and singing. She does recall, however, the first time she wrote a song–a moment that she’s continued to carry with her all her life.
“The writing came about, I think I was ten–this might be heavy–but my grandpa had cancer and he was in a hospice at home and I remember he really loved music, and he really loved hearing people sing. People from our church would come in and sing to him, and I thought ‘Oh, I could do that. I’ll sing to him!'” Day says with a laugh. “So I would sit there and I would sing to him, and then I ran out of songs–and so that was the first time–I decided I was going to write a song for him. So I sat down and wrote a song and he got to hear it before he passed, and it was the most amazing experience for me because I got to give him this gift that nobody else could at that time. From then on I became obsessed with it, so I was ten when I started writing and when I picked up guitar at fourteen that’s when I started falling in love with music.”
Day is a bit of a contradiction in terms of not only the contrasting worlds of entertainment and music she perpetually has both her feet in, but also in the drastically different worlds her sound often borrows from. Spending her pre-teen years in Georgia, she underlines the fact that country music was something you could not escape–and because of that she developed an ear for the authenticity and storytelling aspects of its songwriting. In terms of Day’s own music, lyrics always come first; most of her recording sessions begin as “word vomit” in which she’ll spout all she has to say about a recent experience or emotion to her producer, and oftentimes they’ll end up recording a song in the aftermath. But in the 12 years since her move, Day credits Los Angeles with broadening her musical horizons and exposing her to things she otherwise wouldn’t have experienced had she remained in Georgia.
While Between the I and the U was focused primarily on the previously unshakeable folk-country that Day still had from her Georgia days, the recent work she’s put into a yet unreleased EP has shifted in a new and exciting direction for the young singer/songwriter.
“My last EP was very folky and did have the acoustic-folk feel, and I told my producer that I wanted it to sound like if the electricity went out, I still want the music to be able to play. I was very determined to make this grassroots, organic sound–recently I’ve loosened the reins a bit and now we’re experimenting a lot more with this new EP,” Day said of the changes being made. “We’re going more towards a pop-alternative thing–I don’t know how to categorize it–it’s just very different from anything I’ve done before. I’m using synthesizers which I would’ve never, I would’ve sworn off on that first EP, but now I’m more open to new sounds and music. All that matters to me now is getting the feeling right, I used to be so intense in making it sound a certain way, but now it’s all about the feeling, and if that means there’s synthesizers or these weird sounds we make from banging on a suitcase–which we did plenty of times.”
Words: Steven Ward
Skyler Day will be performing a four-night residency at the Hotel Cafe, tickets are still available here. For more information on her dates and to stay up to date with new music, check out her website.
Skyler Day Hotel Cafe residency dates:
January 7 – at 8 p.m.
January 14 – at 7 p.m.
January 28 – at 8 p.m.
February 4 – at 8 p.m.