That feeling of fresh, yet familiar air when listening to music is a feeling that is so cherished in today’s music climate. Luckily, Skylar Gregg provides just that. As she wears her myriad of stylistic influences on her sleeve, Gregg is preparing the release of her third album Roses, an album comprised of a decade’s worth of lessons learned.
The album’s lead single, “Long Walk Back” is nearly two months old to the public, but for Gregg, it is ten years old and describes the journey of her and her brother finding themselves. An impressive vocal is matched with an undeniable groove, which builds anticipation for the album’s release.
We chatted with Gregg about her diverse influences, when she realized she wanted to pursue music, what listeners can expect to hear on Roses and more!
Pro Country: Over the course of your career, you’ve tapped into a variety of different sounds and styles. Can you talk about the influences you’ve drawn on that have had an impact on your sound?
Skylar Gregg: My dad was really into 60s and 70s classic country and a lot of Americana, or any singer/songwriter situation. My first record was a John Denver record, then there was definitely some 90’s country that slipped into my collection early on. I always really loved Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry and Merle Haggard. And the harmonies of bands like The Eagles and America. Then when I was about 20, I met my husband. He is from Memphis. He, along with some other blues enthusiasts introduced me to the story and history of blues and soul music for sure. BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Billie Holiday, etc.
PC: Your bio mentions that you grew up in a family of musicians. Did a career in music almost seem pre-determined to you?
SG: I’ve always played an instrument, been in a band or some sort of project. That was definitely pre-determined. I did admire all of my family members who worked in the business or had in the past and thought that was pretty cool. It seemed like a fun career. I’ve always just felt like I was learning from them. It took me a while to realize I was ready to do it myself.
PC: At what point did you catch the music bug yourself?
SG: I think in high school, maybe when I was a junior. The first time I played with a band that wasn’t family members. Getting to be part of that and communicating on a whole different level with my friends and an audience is a crazy experience. I’m still practicing every day to try and be more fluent and keep up with the conversation.
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time with your Walkin’ in the Woods album?
SG: I was feeling like that was the first album I had ever done on my own and I had no idea what I was doing. When I worked on that record, I was in Music Business School at MTSU and I feel like that definitely influenced how it came out. My husband did an amazing job in our home studio of making that record sound great as well as the next one. I think I was still searching for what my voice was as an artist.
PC: You released “Long Way Back,” the lead single from your upcoming album Roses at the beginning of May. What went into the decision to release that song as the lead single?
SG: It was, what we felt, the catchiest song. It has the most simple message, and if we were going to grab people’s attention, it seemed like the best choice. It’s also the oldest song on the record. I have been singing that song with my good friend Heather Moulder for about ten years, and it was about time to get it out into the world.
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Long Way Back”?
SG: Like I said, this song I wrote 10 years ago when my little brother was finding himself in his late teens/early 20’s. I wrote it so long ago that he’s doing fine now, but it marks a time in my life that was important for growth on both our accounts.
PC: Roses was produced by Jon Estes, who has worked with artists ranging from Kesha to John Paul White. What was it like to be in the studio with someone who has had the level of collective success that Jon has had?
SG: He is the best. He has a great vision for making something unique and fresh, while also having production history knowledge and the right gear to get warm, vintage sounds. He is a versatile producer, a fantastic musician and a super nice dude. I enjoyed my experience with him and I hope we work together again in the future.
PC: Your bio mentions that you have spent the last 10 years learning who you are, which is reflected on Roses. What did you learn about yourself over that decade and how were you able to reflect it on Roses?
SG: I’m pretty sure that’s what your twenties are for. I learned so many lessons. But the reason I chose Roses as the title track is because the overall lesson I have learned is to not take time for granted. I want to experience everything good. I don’t have time to stop and smell the roses, because I’m too busy living.
PC: What more information can you give about Roses? We are planning the release for August 1st. What can listeners expect to hear?
SG: I think you will hear some country, country-blues, soul songs from my perspective of what life has taught me over the last 10 years. A fresh perspective with a vintage feel. We were going for a Muscle Shoals meets Nashville vibe all around.
PC: 2020 has altered many plans of artists so far. Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
SG: My main live show goal right now is to have a kick ass release party for this record. Hopefully by then it will be safe, I’ll be able to play music with my band and hug all my friends.
*All images by Zach Ward