Unboxed Vol. 45: Skylar Simone is Flirty, Free, and Unstoppable

With her new single "Shut Up," out on June 14, Skylar Simone talks about her journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

Skylar Simone is feeling flirty and free, and she’s giving us a soundtrack to follow her lead.Her latest single, "Shut Up," released June 14 under Def Jam, marks another milestone in a career that began when she was just a preteen. From her early days as a young pop star to her current status as a soulful artist, Skylar has made it her mission to evolve and empower continually. Reflecting on her career path, Skylar says, "I've always strived to stay true to myself while exploring new sounds. 'Shiver' represents a blend of my love for '90s R&B with modern influences. It's a reflection of my growth and where I am today as an artist."

An instantly likable and down-to-earth talent, Skylar’s love for a golden decade in R&B is evident in her music, as she draws inspiration from icons like Brandy, Janet Jackson, and Mariah Carey. "It doesn't get much better than that musically," she reflects. "Even just listening to Brandy’s harmonies, it’s so intricate and beautiful.” For her upcoming EP Shiver, due July 19th, the singer wanted to keep things simple, with subtle layers reminiscent of the 90s. “Finding that sweet mix of my essence with modern elements was a challenge, but I think we accomplished it." Her aspiration to merge past and present influences creates a sonic landscape rooted in the present with intentional throwback nods.

When sharing her songwriting process, Skylar reveals the best technique for her: “I do a lot of freestyle melodies when I write… I might get on the mic and say a bunch of gibberish until something sticks. Sometimes, a random word will stand out, and we build around that.” Collaborating with other writers is another place she thrives. “A lot of times [collaboration] ends up being the sweet spot. I'll figure out the melodies, and the other writer I'm working with will help piece things together on the lyrical side. That process is always really fun. In her song "Shut Up," helmed by frequent production partner D'Mile, Sklyar seamlessly blends assertive and sensual tones, urging an admirer to "shut up, do something" and let their actions speak louder than words.

Another standout track from the EP is "Permission," which showcases Skylar’s lyrical prowess and playful personality. The song’s hook, "Whatcha doin’ to me, tangled up in the sheets, are you going in deep if I gave you permission," exemplifies her ability to blend flirtatious and empowering themes. Skylar emphasizes how the balance of sweet and sexy in her music is aimed at making listeners feel confident and unrestrained. "I want people to feel sexy and flirty and also just free. Having a sense of freedom brings confidence. However you feel, own it," she explains.

Reflecting on her personal and professional growth, Skylar acknowledges the evolution of her music, which has grown from singing about hypothetical situations to sharing deeply personal experiences. "When I was younger, I wrote about things I hadn't really gone through, so I was imagining how I would feel. Now, having gone through ups and downs and relationships, my music has more depth and specificity." This transition is evident in songs like "I Wish I Lied," where she explores the complex emotions of regret and honesty. The track was inspired by a conversation about the consequences of infidelity. "I thought it was a cool concept, even though I didn’t agree with it. I wrote the song from the perspective of a woman cheating and regretting telling the truth." 

Skylar says this significant shift in how she approaches her career happened around turning 18. "I had this awakening where I realized what I wanted to say and where I wanted to go musically and sonically," she reflects. Her newfound clarity led her to hone her craft with renewed focus. During the pandemic lockdowns, she taught herself to play the drums and do her own vocal production. "That’s also when I started releasing music more consistently and in the realm of what I envisioned for myself," she explains.

She also wants to impart this sense of self to her audience. "My lyrics often come from a feminine, empowered place,” as she seeks to create songs that resonate deeply and leave a lasting impression. In her track "Someone Who Cares," she sings, "Try that sh*t with somebody else, save your love for somebody else, someone who cares, not me," further showcasing her ability to convey strength and independence.

Skylar’s connection with her fans is another pillar of her career. Many have grown up with her, and she fondly recalls seeing familiar faces at her shows over the years. "I love my fan base. It's amazing to see fans who supported me when I was 12 still with me now. I feel so grateful for their support." This enduring relationship with her audience is a testament to her authenticity and relatability as her fans have watched her grow into a musician eager to share and inspire.

Looking ahead, the young talent has ambitious goals: "World domination in the music industry," she laughs. "Grammys, tours, albums, traveling – I want to do it all. I also dream of expanding my brand into beauty and fashion." Inspired by the versatile performers she admires, Skylar aims to make a lasting impact not just in music, but across various creative realms. "I'm a huge sneakerhead too. I would love to design a pair of Jordans! That would be so cool."

For now, Skylar channels that visionary passion into the artistic strategy of her career and content. She collaborates closely with her creative director, Danna Takako, to ensure her visuals align with the music's essence. "We share mood boards, discuss color palettes, and focus on what we want people to feel when they see and hear the music.” It’s a thoughtful process that brings everything together cohesively and is clearly seen in the music video for "Shiver," where Skylar dances around a sunlit apartment, exuding her charm and personality. "We wanted to capture a sense of freedom and confidence, much like the song itself," she explains.

When she’s not on a stage or in a booth, Skylar seeks out time with two of her greatest loves, family and food. "I'm very family-oriented, so I love to spend time with my family in some way, shape, or form," she shares. "I also love trying new restaurants, especially Asian food. If someone tells me there's a good noodle dish somewhere, I will be there in .2 seconds," she says with a laugh. 

Skylar’s journey thus far has been a compelling blend of talent, hard work, and authenticity. As she continues to evolve, fans eagerly await what she has to offer.

"I want people to love my music and be moved by it, and to hopefully have songs that stick around for decades and decades to come."

The next phase of Skylar’s world domination lands when ‘Shiver’ drops on July 19th.

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