Things have been going well for Skyler Cocco, a girl who by dint of trying has achieved great things within the industry.
This New York native, Los Angeles-based indie pop artist, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, is a certified pro, sporting a degree in song composition with over a decade of writing and production experience under her belt to boot.
Skyler learned to produce and write at age 11 on her father’s digital track. Today, after releasing her song ‘The Drive’ in September of 2020 (earning her over 400,000 views across all platforms) she presents her new single and music video, ‘Passenger Side’
“Passenger Side” has a steamy, tension-filled air that chronicles the exciting yet fleeting moments of a short fling. It acknowledges the romantic feelings that inevitably occur, but surrenders to the moment, letting the desire – that “lightning in a bottle” – loose. The music video starring Libby Larkin and Skyler herself unfolds like a cult queer-indie film, proudly portraying a sapphic summer romance..
In this interview, she talks about hard work, her favorite song from herself, the new projects for 2023, and also a bit of advice for those followers who might be waiting to make the big leap into music.
How are you right now? How has the path of a musical artist been treating you so far?
Things have been a mixture of exciting and chaotic personally and professionally. The music industry is in a weird place where no one really knows the best way to navigate it but I’m focusing on making music that’s true to myself and hoping it resonates with a bigger audience. I feel like I’ve honed my sound to a point where I actually like the music I’m making and for me that’s a huge step forward.
Beyond the fact that you are a certified pro, sporting a degree in song composition and over a decade of writing and production experience, we know that there was a precise moment when everything changed for the better, and that was the MUNA band competition. Can you tell us about this experience?
I’m still not over it. That Splice competition came at the lowest point in my life, stuck in my childhood home at the very beginning of the pandemic with my career on hold. When I heard about the competition, I wasn’t even sure I had it in me to create something but was encouraged to give it a shot and somehow managed to win it and have my favorite band on the planet tell me I’ve got a good thing going. The demo I submitted became my most streamed song off my artist project and put my music in front of an audience that genuinely loves my sound. It gave me the confidence to keep going and I haven’t stopped since.
Let’s talk about the “Passenger Side”. This song feels like going on an adventure. Personally, I went from the joy of thinking that I was living it, to the nostalgia of knowing that it would end. How would you describe the song? What inspired you to write it?
The song is TENSION. I wrote it after spending a few weeks in New York with a girl I met at The Woods (on one of their LGBTQ ladies’ nights) it was the night before I flew back to LA and we were sitting in her car, both waiting for the other to make a move. The song is about surrendering to the moment, knowing there’s an intense spark, and putting aside the inevitable end to let the “lightning in a bottle” loose.
What has the reaction of your followers been like to the song?
I originally teased the song on TikTok right after I wrote it and an influx of new followers were asking for more. I wasn’t sure when I was going to put out the song but their reaction definitely pushed me to finish it up and put it out there. This will be my first release that has queer themes/first LGBTQ music video. I’m very proud of how it turned out and can’t wait to be responsible for some gay awakenings.
And what about the visual? What was your creative input? Who came up with the idea?
The music video is directed/edited/colored by one of my incredibly talented friends Alexa San Roman. I had wanted to work with her after seeing the visuals she’d done for the band Now, Now, and we ended up being connected through mutual friends so working with her is a dream. We discussed some general ideas about the visual looking like a queer indie film, but on the day of filming we really just came up with each scenario in the spur-of-the-moment, run-and-gun style. It was one of the hottest days of the summer in New York so we got a perfect balance of thunderstorms and 15 minutes of a beautiful sunset. We had an all-LGBTQ crew and the whole day was a blast. These are the parts of having a music career I enjoy the most.
So far, what do you consider has been the most personal song you have written and why?
That’s gotta be “Stranger”. It’s about grieving an ended relationship and feeling like the only way to get over someone is to erase all the memories you had together and go back to when you were strangers.
There was a moment when you moved to L.A., got out of your comfort zone, and changed your routine. How has this affected your creative process? Has it been more challenging or has this change given you fresh ideas?
Moving to LA has been a blessing. I have a much healthier lifestyle out here where I can take a break from my studio and go for a walk to clear my head, and my seasonal depression has pretty much subsided (I love New York, not the winter) I also have more space out in LA so to have a full studio setup in my home makes it way easier to jump in and get ideas down whenever the inspiration hits. I tend to have so many shower songs where I have to grab my phone/voice note ideas and then immediately hop in the studio to work on them.
You have been involved in music from a very early age. However, your sound has evolved and still sounds new. How do you reinvent yourself for each new song?
My sound is always evolving, but I’ve been told it always sounds like “Skyler”. There are certain production elements/creative techniques that I’ve honed over the years that make my sound more signature but I blend it with inspiration from new music I listen to as well. I don’t want to box myself into any genre and it makes writing music so much easier to have the freedom to try new styles and own it at the same time.
Is there any activity that you do to keep your musical ideas fresh and refined?
Aside from spending way too much time downloading snare samples on Splice I always try to match the mood of the lyrical content with the production. Even if it means deviating from the sound I’ve been working on if something out of the ordinary helps elevates the song, I’ll run with it.
You’ve said that you are quite selective when it comes to choosing how the drums or the arrangements will turn out. This process is usually exhaustive or when co-writing songs, do you feel like you can be more flexible?
Finding a drum sound is painful, I’m sure many producers agree. You’re never fully satisfied until you spend hours sifting through your samples until you have that lightbulb moment when it clicks. I try to be patient with it and have also developed a bit of muscle memory when it comes to certain production elements. If I know what type of bass or percussion sound would fit I have a recall where I know how to construct it easily. I also try to save my presets but sometimes when you’re in a good workflow you’re not thinking about future productions.
Is there a current artist with whom you would like to collaborate?
So many. Obviously MUNA, but my top choices these days would be Holly Humberstone or Fletcher.
Could you tell us about new projects you have for 2023?
I have so much music to release and for once I’m trying to keep it consistent and release something every 5 weeks, ultimately compiling it into an EP. I have a few more music videos in the works and some collaborations I’m stoked about, but I’m most passionate about making music that’s honest and tells my story authentically, so to have a body of work that feels authentic is super exciting.
Is there any chance to see you perform live soon?
I’ll be booking more shows toward Spring/Summer, stay tuned!
You produce, write and sing with your beautiful voice, and you’ve been doing this from day one since you were a Child. Any advice for kids who are interested in making music?
I started producing music at 11 when it was totally not cool and I was made fun of for it. Now we live in a time where anyone can learn how to produce on a laptop, with endless searchable resources. It’s never been easier and I think anyone who wants to start making music should go for it and not get discouraged when it doesn’t sound “perfect”. I’m fully self-taught and still google stuff when I’m unsure, it’s all about practice, determination, and being proud of your progress. I listen back to stuff I made in 2009-2010 and think of how far I’ve come. All those demos and thousands of unfinished projects got me to where I am today, so my advice would be to start now and watch it grow.
Story By: LADYGUNN Photos: McCall Olsen
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