The sounds you record while hidden away in your bedroom or deep in the basement are always recorded with an audience in mind, but you never know if your recordings will see the light of day. As you see live footage of Skew's studio or of his live performances it is clear that his sound is the result of personal experimentation. He combines live distorted guitar with an MPC2000, and the results are incredibly complex, danceable and surprisingly organic.
Skew is a NYC musician, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, he enlisted the help of fellow New York producer Shakeyface to help created his self-titled debut album. The results were released on Shakeyface's label It's Bananas Label on November 11th, and has been receiving very positive press.
Recently Skew was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Orange Alert (OA): I really enjoyed your debut album, but I have seen a review or two that have not been as positive. Do you read the reviews, and do they every affect the way you look at your album?
Skew: Well the cool answer would be to say that I don't read reviews. The honest answer is I read pretty much everything written. I try to not let it affect me too much but when you're a solo act and you don't have a band who all believe in the record, a less than favorable review can create momentary but crushing waves of self doubt.
OA: They album was released on It's Bananas Music. What has it been like working with Shakeyface and It's Bananas?
Skew: It's been great. Shakeyface (Doug) is a long time friend so it makes the whole process a lot more fun. Also he's a great producer so it helped to have someone who's opinion you trusted particularly when it came to choosing what tracks would end up on the record.
OA: The video for Stadiums Are Ok Too is great. How did you get involved with Stephen Key and how much input did you have on what he created?
Skew: I really wanted a video for that song but didn't know anybody who was up for the task. So, my girlfriend placed an ad on craigslist and we got a fair amount of responses. After looking at samples of their work I knew he was going to be the perfect choice. His work has a certain whimsical quality that I thought would fit the song well. When it came to him doing the video I gave him zero input. More or less just told him do your thing.
OA: I watched the brief clip of your studio and all of that vinyl on your shelves. What is your songwriting process like? How much of your music is sample based and how much is live instrumentation?
Skew: I used to do a lot of sampled based work. In regard to this record I didn't use any samples. I recorded with an MPC2000, a Mikrokorg, Guitar and some effect pedals.
OA: You also record as I LOVE MY MPC 2000 BUT I'VE CHOSEN PROG METAL, what is the difference between the two projects? When you record or think of a melody how do you know which project it should belong to?
Skew: ILMMPC2000 was initially started to be a dark, experimental project. Something that was and is supposed to be a bit self indulgent in terms of doing lots of edits and time signature changes etc.. With Skew I always want to keep it somewhat grounded in pop music in the broad sense.
OA: Instrumental and electronic music seems to be gaining in popularity. What are your thoughts on the current state of electronic music?
Skew: My listening habits tends to shift a lot. The past year I've been listening to a lot of pop stuff both old and new. Kanye West, The Killers, Syd Barrett and The Kinks have all been in heavy rotation. As far as electronic stuff that has excited me people like Burial, Flying Lotus and Eliot Lipp are all doing stuff that's really amazing, individual and with out concern for flavor of the minute trends.
OA: What's next for Skew?
Skew: I hope to doing a lot of live shows this year. And I've already started working on the next record which I think is going to be a big shift musically and will most likely have vocals on every track. But right now I'm just excited about having this record out and I want to do whatever I can to support it.
Listen to: Stadiums are Ok (mp3) and Stadiums are Ok (Sound of Arrows Remix) (mp3)
For more information on Skew please visit his website.