With a plethora of musicians in Austin, there are surprisingly few musicians that play music that is exclusively pop. However, Austin vocalist Skye Strickler is out to change that. Growing up in Kansas, there were few opportunities for Strickler to get creative, though it was musical theater that molded Strickler into the person and artist he is today.
Telling the story of his beginnings in musical theater, Strickler says, “it afforded me the self-awareness to figure out what I wanted to do with my life creatively early on, and I was blessed to take on so many different roles within the community theater. The director of these plays, Richard Spencer, actually gave me a big push and helped me discover my potential as I was growing up.”
Strickler released his new EP, DNA, in early January, and has had a few opportunities that have allowed him to put his singing abilities on the map. With a trip to NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim, California last month under his belt, Strickler never turns down a chance to discuss his music or the opportunities that are propelling him forward.
“The reason I went and the reason I learned so much from the experience, was my song ‘Where Did You Go’ was selected by the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and they wanted me to perform it at NAMM,” Strickler said. “I had known about the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for a while and I had always kind of thought it was a hoax.”
He continued: “Their website is a little outdated, and they had this all-star cast of judges and you just think that there’s no way that they could be giving away thousands of dollars in awards and prizes for songwriting. So, this was the first year that I submitted anything to them and it was an absolute honor to have my songwriting acknowledged by them. So that’s how I got out there. They said ‘hey, come down and meet us, pick up some stuff from us, and come play a show at NAMM.”
Talking about the overall experience at NAMM, Strickler states, “My experience at NAMM was cool, there was a lot of walking around. I met a lot of tech and celebrity types and walked around and individually thanked all of the sponsors that were tied to the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, because I wanted to also get to know the people who were partnering with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.”
Working alongside the songwriting contest, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit organization that allows aspiring musicians and film makers to learn how to record music and film movies over the course of an entire day. The bus travels around the United States visiting schools and industry events to educate young people about the importance of music and arts education.
Strickler gives details about his own experience being on to the bus: “The bus was the best experience about the whole trip. I walked on to the bus and they were all like ‘this is the winner of the songwriting contest,’ and they just clapped and applauded and I was absolutely taken aback. It was like walking into a huge family gathering, everyone was so nice and they treated me like family. They have two full recording studios, they have a video editing lab and Cannon cameras everywhere, so the moment I stepped on the bus it was all recorded.”
When listening to Strickler’s new EP, DNA, it is obvious that different influences played a large role in its creation. Strickler gives details about how musical theatre has shaped his music, saying, “After writing songs that were going more towards musical theatre, I actually wrote a song that was more pop minded, that didn’t sound like musical theatre. That was when I started becoming interested in pop music. When I was writing the EP, I said that I was going to challenge myself to write as many different song as I can and then see what makes me happy. Every song that I wrote and finished ended up making it on the EP, so I only ended up doing five songs.”
After spending a year going to college, Strickler made the decision to drop out of school and move to Austin where he has been ever since.
“I went to visit my sister in Dallas and I was able to get down to Austin where I stayed in an AirBnB. It was as affordable as it could be for a 19-year-old who had just left college, but I just loved it,” he recalled. “I was not old enough to get into any of the bars. I was walking down the street at 3’o clock in the afternoon and I heard six bands playing. I said, ‘this is where I have to be and this is where I need to immerse myself, and surround myself with artists and musicians so that I could figure out who I want to be.”
While writing DNA was an exercise in musical creativity, Strickler says he came up with the name for the EP by simply growing up and changing. “It goes back to being a human being on earth and figuring out who you are, and I think that welcoming that process makes life so much more enjoyable.”
While Strickler is content with the music he has made, he maintains that he would be just as happy being on the creative side of music, either as a writer or as a producer, and that while singing is something he loves, that ultimately is not his end goal if things turn out differently.
“I just want to share my music with the world and hope that the world enjoys the music that I put out,” Strickler said.
While DNA gets Strickler’s name known, where he will head next is unknown, but whatever he decides to do, there are no doubts about his future success.
Take a listen to “Where Did You Go” below.
If you would like to read more of Lauren Gribble’s interviews, you can check out her website Listen Here Reviews.