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Justine Skye Talks Defying Expectations & Digital Community

Justine Skye, isn’t your typical 22-year-old, and she has no desire to be. Born and raised in Brooklyn, her climb to stardom began by blogging on tumblr. Through self-produced videos and covers, she created an online community which laid the groundwork for her talents to be recognized worldwide. But she’s much more than the reputation she’s built online. When asked what she wished more people knew about her, she immediately replied, “I wish more people knew that I’m deeper than the character I portray on Instagram.” In her newly released single, “Build”, she shows us an entirely new side of herself, and it stands to be her most personal project to date. Ready to break boundaries, and with a strong point of view and story to tell, Skye is giving up a glimpse into her creative process, and showing us first-hand that she is much more than her online presence. Her captivatingly raw voice and honest lyrics reflect her most intimate thoughts. She will be the first to admit that she is ever-evolving as both a person and an artist, which makes it perfectly clear that Skye and her music are here to stay.

What was your life like growing up and how has it influenced your art today?

I’m from Brooklyn, and was exposed to all types of music growing up. From an early age, my mom played a lot of R&B, and my grandparents always put on country. I knew almost immediately that I didn’t connect with country music in the same way as I did with R&B and pop. That being said, it is a combination of all of these different sounds that I was exposed to as a kid that still influences my art today. 

Can you tell us about how you were discovered?

tumblr was really the beginning of it all. As a New York City kid, my friends and I used tumblr as almost our personal websites. It was our community, and safe space to express ourselves. We spilled our secrets, like our diaries, and it eventually got to a point where my group of friends we’re known for our presence on the internet and called us, “The New York City tumblr Kids.” It was through posting covers on the internet and spilling my heart out that labels eventually starting contacting me directly and taking me seriously as an artist.

What is your creative process like?

I write down everything I’m thinking about and going through. When I get into the studio, I look over the things I’ve written down and start freestyling. Some of it makes immediate sense, but other parts don’t at all. From there, the producers and I start building up the skeleton of the track, then we play around with layering sounds, vowels, and words until it eventually turns into a song.

I also like bringing in other people to the studio. I have a habit of second-guessing myself, so having other people present helps my creative process a lot. I like hearing about how my art connects with other people, and I appreciate when people are able to tell me their honest opinions on projects I’m working on.

Can you tell us about your newest track, “Build”?

My new track “Build” actually just came out, and is one of the most personal projects I’ve ever worked on. The song starts off talking about how I wish I could build the perfect man, but ends in the self-realization that you actually can’t necessarily build the perfect partner ever. I’ve recently learned that in order to find the person for you, you need to be the perfect person for yourself first. “Build” is really about this.

“Build” came out of a vent session in the studio about some events that had recently happened in my life, and one of my producers responded to what I was going through by just saying, “I think I have the perfect song for you.” From the second he played the song, I felt connected to it. The song is so special, and really encapsulated what I felt in that moment in my life. I am really proud of it, and so excited for the video that will come out soon too.

Is there something that people wish more people knew about you?

I wish people knew that I’m deeper than the character I portray on Instagram. I hold back a lot on Instagram, and I’m more than my social media presence. I think the video for “Build” is the first step to me telling people about myself and opening up about the things I’m going through. I hope this inspires other people to do the same. I think that’s the powerful part of being an artist. Even if you don’t relate to someone directly about an exact experience, you can connect with them on some level through their art.

For me, it’s not just about making dope music. It’s also about growing into myself more, so I can make the music that is the most authentic to me.

Do you have any advice for artists and creators looking up to you, hoping to be discovered one day?

I would absolutely tell them to use the internet, but don’t depend on it. You need to find that line between sharing enough, but not too much online, and not adhere to the pressure to always connect at all hours of the day. Remind yourself to take breaks from it all. Start performing in real-life. Everything, especially in terms of social media, is changing so quickly, so remind yourself to move at a pace you feel comfortable with.

Most importantly though, don’t try to rush learning yourself, or your art. Fame and success don’t happen overnight. The internet often pains this picture that someone can be an overnight sensation, and that sometimes makes even me question my own timeline, or feel insecure about the pace I’m moving. But there is so much work that goes on behind the scene to make someone a real star. It takes time to really build a strong foundation for yourself. Don’t rush it, and always stay true to yourself in the process.

Studio courtesy of Daylight Studios; Digital Tech: Emilie Fong

Stay tuned to Milk for more rising stars.

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