Songwriter Skylar Grey’s Interscope debut is titled “Invisible,” and so it is in more ways than one.
Superheroes, for one, have exhibited such a superpowers. Grey shows off her Spider-man side in the newly minted music video for the album’s title track, below.
“I discovered that my insecurities and my flaws were things that I actually need to embrace, and I let them become my superpowers,” Grey said in a statement.
But in my interview with the rising star, she spoke of invisibility as more of an unknowable, which is sort of the general impression of the album at this point. “Expectations are an evil thing,” as she said coolly.
Grey has stepped out as a prominently featured vocalist on several hip-hop hits, including on Dr. Dre’s “I Need a Doctor” with Eminem and on Lupe Fiasco’s “Words I Never Said.” Additionally, she was the songwriting power behind one of Slim Shady’s biggest hits of all time, “Love the Way You Lie” (which guested Rihanna on vocals).
But on the flip side, her performance at Lollapalooza was equally dark but much more rock, like an industrial Nelly Furtado. It was a showcase of her hook-writing abilities but also of personality, cultivated from more than a half-dozen years of navigating a tricky industry in turmoil.
Grey used to perform under her real first and middle name, Holly Brook, when she first arrived in Los Angeles, moving from middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin as a teen. She was signed by Machine Shop Recordings, the deal and the album faltered and she was forced to find work elsewhere, leading to playing keyboards in Duncan Sheik’s touring band.
Turning that around, she disappeared to Oregon to an artist retreat, got some funding and started pumping out songs that were to Universal Music Publishing Group’s liking.
“This business is all about making things happen for you, keeping relationships good,” she explained.
UMPG paired her with producer/songwriter wunderkind Alex da Kid, a coupling that brought Grey up to “Invisible” speed.
“He pushes me to do new things that I don’t always feel comfortable with… but it brings the best out of me,” Grey said. “He’ll tell you when something sucks.”
But just because da Kid and Grey’s many other hip-hop connections remain strong, that doesn’t mean she was eager to add any featured rappers to her Skylar Grey debut. Even though she "loves" Eminem and other artists she's collaborated with, “I didn’t want to do what people expected.”
Instead, she went with Marilyn Manson, a friend-of-a-friend.
The hard rock icon sings about zombies with Grey on a track called “Can’t Haunt Me.”
“He’s just a really talented creative genius. I learn something from him every time. We’ll start to hang out… and all of a sudden I’ll look up and I’ll have spent 15 hours there,” she said. When I asked if she’ll be showing up on any of his tunes or records, she hesitated. “I don’t really know what’s gonna happen yet.”
Skylar Grey’s “Invisible” has been pushed back from a November release to some time in 2012.
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