Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ The Skins

The Skins
Photo by Alicia Atout

Currently on tour with Jake Bugg, The Skins are a Brooklyn-based soulful rock group with attitude, skill, and (of course) some groovy music. The Skins fuse together hip hop, jazz, and funk to create their energetic and big sound, but the key to their musical identity is the “strong rock foundation”. After blowing us away in Toronto with their performance, we caught up with The Skins to discuss what’s next, crazy fan encounters, the influence of Brooklyn, and touring.

AMBY: Hello The Skins, welcome to AMBY. Please introduce yourselves to our readers!

BayLi: Hi I’m BayLi and I’m the lead vocalist.

Daisy: I’m Daisy and I play guitar.

Russ: Hey I’m Russ and I play guitar.

Reef: I’m Reef Cole I play drums.

Kaya: Hi I’m Kaya and I play bass.

AMBY: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with your music?

The Skins: Although our music is a mash up of a few different genres and styles of music (I.e. Hip hop, soul, jazz, funk, etc.), we definitely have a strong rock foundation. So I guess if you had to classify us you could call our music electric, energetic, magnetic ROCK.

AMBY: You’re currently on a North American tour with Jake Bugg. What are you most looking forward to?

The Skins: We are honestly looking forward to every single date on this tour! We haven’t been to many of the cities that we’re playing on this tour (including anywhere in Canada) so all of this is super exciting for us !

AMBY: Your debut self-titled EP was released back in January 2012. What are your thoughts on the EP now that there’s been two years to reflect on it?

The Skins: We still play all of the songs from the EP and still really love them. At the same time, we’ve grown so much as writers and musicians over the past 2 years and when we listen to the EP that is clear to us. When we release our new music I’m sure you guys will be able to hear the growth too!

AMBY: I love the soul in Surf. What’s the story behind the song?

The Skins: Why thank you! Lyrically, I (BayLi) wrote the song about a experience that I had where this guy that I was seeing was sort of treating bad and leaving me in the dark quite a bit, but I couldn’t help but want to be with him and go over to his house late at night and just sort of do anything to be around him and blah blah blah. At the time he seemed pretty irresistible to me but I was just young and naive. Now when I look back I find that character to be very unattractive haha.

AMBY: What’s next as recording goes?

The Skins: We’ve been writing and developing our music with a lot of amazing writers and producers. We’ve even been blessed enough to have gotten to meet and be mentored by Rick Rubin, who is amazing! It’s been really successful just experimenting with our music and working on our craft. We’ve mostly been demoing our new songs and the recordings already sound amazing. We really can’t wait for you guys to hear!

AMBY: Where did the name The Skins come from, and what other names had you considered for the band?

The Skins: BayLi had this little black book full of potential band names and one day we all sat down and decided that if we want to be a ‘real’ band we would need a band name! So we started with a little over 100 names, got it down to 30, then 10, then 5, then 3, then THE SKINS! Other potential band names included The Bends (Radiohead inspired) and Dead Justice (lol) . We basically thought that it sounded really cool! In NYC and London (where Bayli, Kaya and Reefs mom is from) a ‘skin’ is slang for a hot or attractive girl or guy, so automatically we thought “that’ll work! That’s so us!” Haha. We later realized that it had a lot of other cool meanings and interpretations since we all like to show a little SKIN on stage and the band shares a variety of different SKIN tones and how much more interesting people are when you learn who they are beneath the surface of the SKIN.

AMBY: Does hailing from Brooklyn have an influence on your sound? And if so, how?

The Skins: I think being from Brooklyn or even just being from New York City has influenced us so much in terms of experimentation and open-mindedness of our music. The general diversity that you see in New York has allowed to think and just be ‘outside the box’ by not getting caught up with labels or classification of genre. New York City’s vibrancy and energy really reflects in our music also. I would say because we grew up in Brooklyn we’ve listened to a lot of hip hop our whole lives, and I think that  reflects in rhythmic aspects of our music and the ‘rappy’ vocal phrasing that we use in some of our songs.

AMBY: The love you have for your fans really shines through on your Facebook page. What’s the craziest fan encounter you’ve had so far?

The Skins: Omg yes! How we love our beautiful fans. That’s hard to say, but on this trip at our show in Montréal there we’re a few fans in the crowd singing along to some of the songs and holding up signs that said “The Skins !  Will you marry me or something!” and one that said “wanna hang out after the show?” To us, having that much recognition from fans is absolutely amazing. It’s still sort of surreal to us that we can go places like Montreal or France and meet people who know and love our music. We are really grateful to our fans for those things.

AMBY: Which 2014 release are you most looking forward to?

The Skins: We’re looking forward to the release of our EP and potentially an album later on and maybe a music video or two. We are just so excited to release new music to our fans because it’s been a while.

AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about The Skins that nobody knows yet?

The Skins: Hmmm…I mean we’re pretty open with ourselves. I guess something that no one really knows is how close we are with each other and how much we really love each other and love making music together. It’s insane! We’re like a giant family and that includes our managers Jo and Adrian! The Skins = a giant love fest.

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Thank you The Skins, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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