For this week’s spotlight I interviewed a fellow Dutchie, Skylar Nevaeh. She is a young and upcoming female music producer. She started producing music on her computer at a young age. She finds inspiration in jazz, R&B, lofi and pop music. Her own music style contains ambient, jazz, R&B and downtempo vibes.
Skylar Nevaeh isn’t a particularly Dutch name. Am I correct it is a stage name?
“Yes, it is my stage name. From a young age I liked the name Skylar after hearing it on TV for the first time. There’s a funny story behind my last name Nevaeh. I didn’t want my stage name to be solely Skylar, because there are so many Skylars. When playing a game on my mobile phone I saw a character called Nevaeh. I instantly fell in love with that name. When I searched the internet to see if there was a meaning behind the name, it said the meaning was heaven. Nevaeh spelled backwards is heaven. So my stage name reminds me of the sky and heaven, which feels quite magical.”
Skylar studied to be a music producer at the Audio Visual Academy in Hilversum from 2019 to 2020. Before that, she watched tutorials on music production on YouTube.
“I wanted to deepen my knowledge and during the professional education I learned especially more about building a DIY studio, mixing and recording my own songs. I also learned how to master my own songs.”
Who inspired you to pursue a career in music?
“It wasn’t a specific person who inspired me to pursue a career in music. I have always had a love for music. There’s a story from when I was about 5 years old. My mum turned on the radio and I didn’t like the radio station she was listening to, so I switched channels to Dutch radio station Sublime. I told my mum, I want to listen to this radio station. That’s when my love for funk, soul and jazz music started. I wanted to make my own songs, because of the music I heard on the radio.”
How old were you when you created your first song?
“There are a lot of old music production projects I made to practice producing. I always wrote songs when I was younger. However, my first published track was called ‘Dull’. It’s an instrumental track. You listen to it on my Bandcamp page. I was 18 years old when I created it.”
What are your fondest musical memories?
“Something very special to me was when I visited an exhibition of the artist Prince. I was fascinated by the exhibition and mainly by the fact that he was pretty independent in his music. His artistic style is amazing and I think he was a great and unique artist.”
What’s the last full album you listened to?
“The last full album I listened to was ‘Songs For You‘ by Tinashe. On the album Tinashe added a twist to multiple songs. At around the half of the song the beat and lyrics changes, so it feels like two songs in one, which is an interesting element. I really enjoy listening to her music and love her voice.”
What kind of music do you like to listen to?
“The kind of music I like is mainly Jazz, R&B, Funk, Soul and Pop. I love artists like Anderson Paak, Mario Biondi, Gregory Porter, Nona, Selena Gomez, The Weeknd, Solange and many more. I do listen to different genres and like to discover new music. ‘This Is What You Are‘ a song by Mario Biondi inspired multiple of my songs on my album ‘Pretty Saxy’, like my song ‘Not Lost’. “
Skylar released her album ‘Pretty Saxy‘ on 29 August 2020. The album is about things people may face in their lives like loneliness, feeling brokenhearted or being in love.
What’s your favourite memory of making this record?
“I made this album during summer time 2020 and I had an incredible flow of creative inspiration. It happened quite naturally. I got inspired by vocal samples with effects on them and started making my own and also using already existing ones and creating songs with them. A lot of the time I start my song by creating loops and I get excited when I create a great loop, because I know a new song might be born out of it. That was my favourite part of making the album.”
What’s your creative process like?
“Most of the time I start my songs with making a loop. So I make an about 10 sec part of the song with for example piano, drums and bass. Then I try to sing on the loop and make a vocal sample. Sometimes I already have the vocal sample and make a song around that. Whenever I have inspiration for lyrics, I record it on my phone and work the creative idea out later in my DAW. If I need inspiration for a song, I like to listen to music or browse my sample library. I make both my own samples and use already existing samples in my songs. The mixing and mastering of my songs I do completely on my own.”
Which of your songs represents your sound best?
“Currently my songs ‘Not Lost’ and ‘How I Feel About You‘ describe my sound best. Both albums I made: ‘Pretty Saxy’ and ‘No More Violins‘ were experimental. It includes different genres. ‘Pretty Saxy’ has a more jazzy, funky vibe. ‘No More Violins’ is definitely an ambient, electronic, atmospheric album. I am working on lots of different new songs and still trying new stuff all the time. My two upcoming songs ‘Leaving The Dark’ and ‘Sick Without You’ will be in the Nu Jazz genre. I feel like my heart longs for jazzy songs the most. ‘How I Feel About You’ and ‘Not Lost’ are both pretty funky and jazzy songs and my personal favorites so far.”
What’s your goal for the next 12 months?
“My goal for the next 12 months would be releasing singles with more lyrics. I have two songs ready for 2021. (The new single ‘Leaving the Dark’ will be released 12 February 2021, ed.) One of them has more lyrics than any of my previous songs. So I am moving forward in that and practicing with singing almost everyday, because my goal is to get better at that.”
Are there any artists you would particularly like to collaborate with?
“Currently I am mostly investing in myself and trying to become better at singing and music production. But in the future I would love to collaborate. I don’t have a specific artist in mind I would like to collaborate with.”
What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far?
“I have struggled with insecurities and a lack of confidence, especially in my music. I feel like growing in making music is about having the courage and daring to experiment and not be afraid to fail.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Once, I encountered a quote on the internet. It said: “You can lay on the floor for people to walk over you and they will still complain you’re not flat enough.” It’s about how you can try to please people, but it’s one of the hardest tasks in the world, because there will always be people who don’t like what you do or will complain about something for whatever reason. This quote comes to my mind a lot. I love harmony and always wanted to please people. However, now I am reminding myself every time: do whatever makes you happy and do it with good intention and it will be okay. For my music it means, there will always be people who don’t like what I do, so I better do what I want to do.”
How do you feel about the current music scene?
“Because of Covid-19 the music scene has changed. Live performances are currently not allowed, which is awful for the music industry. But I also like the fact that “live” performances online are becoming a thing. It’s accessible to more people around the world, because there’s no need to travel to a certain city to see your favorite artists. Especially the performances from home I find really cozy to watch. I think this might be a good development for the music industry too. To see more of the bright side of this horrible situation.”
Besides music Skylar also likes to be creative in other ways. She started experimenting with collage art on her computer in 2019. Making visuals is one of her favourite things to do next to making music. She make visuals for her own music too.
I noticed you’ve also made some visuals for the Postindustrial Poets. How did that come about?
“I made visuals for one of their songs called ‘It Happens All The Time‘. It’s a lovely chilled modern blues song for cold December dawns. They asked me to make the visuals because they loved the visuals I made for my own music, which are on my YouTube Channel. I had a lot of fun making the visual video for the Postindustrial Poets.
“I love making cover artwork, visual/video art and collage art. I recently opened a shop on Etsy where I offer my art as digital downloads that can be printed as interior decoration.”
What’s your favourite song in the Cool Top 20?
“My favorite song in the Cool20 is ‘Babydoll‘ by Sophie Dorsten. I really like her as an artist and she has an amazing singing voice. I feel like she will probably become even more popular over time.”
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