22 year-old singer-songwriter Skofee moved to Los Angeles to attend USC and never left. While being highly influenced by bluegrass and folk music growing up, she is currently soaking all the creative energy that only a city like LA can bring.
Being in LA clearly pushed her creative efforts to develop her own sound which is heavily influenced by various genres including R&B, pop and folk. Her debut EP is titled “Polished” and came out on September 21. It features ample layers of candid vocal harmonies while the lyrical content spring darkness and introspection.
Much like she does with her fashion and style (“I just like to mix up weird things”, she tells Mundane), her musical and creative choices are quite interesting and certainly not plain or ordinary.
We spoke with Skofee about her creative process, new record and more.
Photo credit: Deanie Chen
Let’s talk about you, your experience and how you ended up in LA.
MY upbringing is kinda split from me because I went to high school in Boulder, Colorado and my parents are still there. But, all of my extended family lives in Wichita still, and I have all of my childhood memories in Kansas, so I accept either. I ended up in LA because I graduated from USC last May. That was the reason for coming here.
I wanted to study music at USC and I ended up not getting into that program so I decided it would be better to surround myself with the people in that scene who are all so talented and just kind of get to LA and just start music stuff on my own.
How is the LA scene for you? How did you embed yourself in the LA scene? How did that change your creativity, process, and your approach to music?
I mean, the level of talent in this city is amazing and I feel like watching other people, just like my peers perform and writing with new people just through the years it kind of opened my eyes to exactly what I wanted to be, the sound I wanted to have, what I wanted to be saying in my music.
In college I was in a folk trio actually so we did a lot of performing around campus and other smaller venues in LA. That was a lot of fun, but ultimately, as much as I loved that sound, it’s not exactly what I would want for my solo stuff which is much more, sort of left of center pop.
We live in an era where you don’t really have to define a genre which could be a good thing. Do you agree?
Oh, totally. I feel like that frees me up to just write the songs that I want to write, make them sound how they sound, and retroactively if people want to try and define that, I’m cool with that.
What are your inspirations and influences?
I’m inspired by a lot of different artists. I love Lennon Stella, I think she has a husky voice which is something that I have too and I really like her songwriting style. I love Phoebe Bridgers. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Remi Wolf, she’s really cool. Chloe and Halle’s album has been awesome.
What kind of sound are you trying to achieve?
There are artists that inspire the lyrics, like Phoebe Bridgers. I really like very lush vocal stacks. I would say probably that Lorde, especially with Melodrama, is someone I’ve been referencing a lot recently just because, I mean who wouldn’t wanna sound like Lorde, she’s amazing. The goal is to achieve that sort of pop with a darker edge.
What about that type of dark element on your lyrics with a happier, poppier sound in your music, did that come naturally to you?
I just think that when I write songs they mostly come out sad. It’s just the songs that I write. I think part of that is because songwriting is an avenue to get those feelings out, but then in production they’ll end up getting picked up a little bit more in feel. Which I think is good cause you have to have a balance. If you’re gonna write a song, like Bleach, on the EP which is really, really sad, I feel like you have to deliver it in a way that is digestible.
Photo credit: Deanie Chen
You called the album polished, but in your lyrics you’re trying to expose your darker side. Is there a specific theme that overarches the lyrical content in the EP?
I wrote each song, very much just not thinking of a theme. Once I had the collection of songs that made the cut for the EP, I think that’s when I saw the common thread which was desperately wanting to resolve and deliver a polished conclusion, a polished way of being.
I just thought that was kind of ironic to call it “The Polished EP” because technically it’s all polished up and well produced. Everything is the best version of it, in my mind, that I could deliver. But the songs themselves are detailing a lot of disarray.
I always hear these horror stories about working in LA in the music industry. How do you find that in LA, socially but within the industry?
Well, I think honestly the fact that I went to college in LA was a stepping stone that really was helpful for me. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the music scene here, but everyone has been so supportive.
I feel like it’s just about finding one person that you write really well with or that you fuck with and then they’ll bring other people that they fuck with and it’ll end up being a supportive circle of people who like working together and making music.
I live with four other artists which is really helpful. We all just went on a writing retreat to Portland, like just outside of Portland. It was so fun. I have not left the house all summer, obviously, so it was really needed. We were isolated once we got there. I like working with other people. I’m inspired by what people are doing.
Would you say your work life and social life are intertwined?
Yeah, it’s a very social industry, it’s built on personal relationships which is why you have to find people who you work well with and also love. That is easier said than done so I feel lucky that– when I do find those people I hold onto them.
How did quarantine and this whole pandemic crisis influence both your life and your creative process? Were you ever in a constant writers block or did you find a way to cope with that?
Yeah, it’s weird because you have this once in a lifetime seeming opportunity where you’re forced to stay home, and that’s pretty much your only job to keep yourself contained. It’s interesting when you have that opportunity, when normally I’m like, ‘ugh there’s never enough time to get all this writing done.” I did definitely have some artistic blocks during quarantine. It’s kind of strange in that way but at the same time I have had some creative breakthroughs. We built a studio on our front porch so that has been really nice during this time to be able to just work on music outside. I think because a lot of quarantine has been putting finishing touches on preexisting songs it wasn’t as much of a roadblock for me.
Do you have any specific ideas on how you want to look in terms of your artistic persona?
I honestly don’t have an answer for you. I love fashion and all of that, but I just pick clothes that I like. I like pairing weird things together.
Tell us about the Polished music video
I’m so excited about this video. Polished is my favorite. My friend Louis, filmed it and afterwards I was like ‘hey, i love it but it’s not fitting together. I feel like it needs some sort of through line. Do you think you could put animations over the top of it?’ and he was like ‘uhm, okay’ and he’s one of those people that’s just good at any artistic endeavor that he tries. So literally 3,000 sketches later, he’s done with it. That was definitely a big curveball to throw at him at the end but I’m so happy.
Was there any particular idea or storytelling behind the video?
I’m in different parts of a house walking on a treadmill which is supposed to represent being in a rut and walking in place. There are images that he drew over everything that represent the lyrics but then I also gave him my note sheet from when i was writing the song. So it’s not necessarily the lyrics it’s just thoughts that I was having and the lyrics came out of those thoughts. So he took those thoughts and incorporated those words as well. I feel like that drives home the points that didn’t even make it into the lyrics.
Photo Credit: Austin Dalgleish.