Skylar Grey is the 25-year-old US Grammy-nominated songwriter behind Dr Dre’s ‘I Need a Doctor’ and Eminem/Rihanna’s ‘Love the Way You Lie’. With her debut solo single, ‘Invisible’, released this month, we caught up with her to discover some essential facts.
She’s campaigning for responsible songcraft. ‘Pop radio has gone down the route of being driven by drinking and partying. There’s nothing wrong with that – everybody likes to have fun – but I feel that personally I like to have songs that I can relate to on a more personal level too because it’s a therapeutic thing to listen to music, or to write it. And I feel that there’s a need out there for emotionally driven music that can actually touch people and make a difference in their lives.’
She hangs out with bears and cougars. ‘I was up in Tahoe in Nevada and I’d just gotten into my tent. I’d been up late, eating food by the fire, and I guess a bear must have smelled the food, because it came over and literally stuck its nose right up against my tent. I was freaking out trying to slow my heart rate. I felt like he could hear it. Eventually he walked away and I heard him pushing on this camper trailer, shaking it. I also lived in the woods where there were a lot of cougars – not the women, the mountain lions. But I never saw one. They’re stealthy.’
She can fly! ‘A few years ago I was working with a guy who was a pilot, so we’d take breaks from the studio and he’d give me flying lessons. I fell in love with it, so I’ve been flying as a student pilot for five years. But I haven’t actually taken the test to get my licence yet. At some point I’m gonna do that. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson flies to their shows, so maybe I could do that.’
She has supernatural powers. ‘I was with my mum in the car and there was a bridge under construction, so traffic was down to one lane. It was a green light for us to go through and before we even got to the bridge I had this premonition that the person coming in the other direction wasn’t going to stop. When we got there, this semi came barrelling through the red light, heading right for us. I had my hand on my seatbelt and was ready to jump out of the car, off the bridge. But my mum got it in reverse in time and got us out of the way. The guy driving the truck never saw us, he just kept driving. He ran us right off the road. Most of my premonitions are like that: traffic-based, or life-and-death situations.’
She’s been planning for her retirement since she was a teen. ‘I wrote a lot of short stories when I was a teenager. And I’ve started some novels, but never finished them. I’ll finish one day – I think I can be an author when I’m 50, but I can’t be a pop star. So I’m saving my book, writing for later in my life.’
She almost lost a thumb. ‘I have a scar on my thumb from when I was cutting frozen bread one morning. It was 7am and I was totally asleep. The bread just suddenly split open and the knife went right through my thumb, so I stood there squirting blood. I got a bunch of stitches, but I didn’t get my thumb cut off – there was just some nerve damage. I got to miss school that day so it had its advantage.’
She’s a life model for the Prince of Darkness. ‘Oh this is an exclusive, by the way. Marilyn Manson painted my portrait. So I have a portrait of myself, by Marilyn Manson. Is it flattering? Well, it kind of looks like a mixture of styles, to be honest. It’s definitely dark, though.’