Skylar Stecker is an up and coming artist with a powerful voice and inspiring music. Stecker started at a young age of nine singing national anthems and since then has been through a lot that has made her new album Redemption all that more special. Stecker is known for her music such as “Only Want You” and her remake of Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams.” Currently, Stecker is on tour with Yuna and ECHO had the chance to speak with Stecker before her set in LA.
How has tour been?
It’s been amazing, I think all of the stops are the new for me except for LA and NYC, so Washington DC, Boston, all the places I would like to go but I had the best time performing and seeing those places so it has been really fun.
You released your docu-series Redemption, talk about wanting to release that and the process of putting the series together.
I was really excited to put it out because we’ve been doing it for a really long time, a little over six months. There was a lot of stuff that went on that will be unveiled more as the documentary series continues, but I put a lot o that into the music. A lot of it though, obviously you can’t get too detailed with the music because then it becomes less fun. So, a lot of the stuff I wasn’t able to put into my music, I got to show with my everyday life and those situations and dealing with them, so I’m really excited for my fans to be able to or even new listeners to hear what’s going on in my life and hopefully can relate to it in someway and know that it’s not the end of the world, to know that you can keep going and turn lemons into lemonade.
Why do you feel that it’s important to open up to your fans, maybe even more so than other musicians?
I feel that it’s really important to me. A lot of my fans have been following me since I was really young, since I was 9 when I first started, so I think it’s really interesting because we’ve all kind of grown up together, so I know a lot of the things that I’m going through of just becoming a young adult, there also going through a lot of those same things. It’s really interesting for me to share those stories and then have people come back and say how they’re going through something that’s totally different but also the exact same just in a different way and to hear how the stories have helped them. That’s honestly the best feeling ever. My music is obviously a release for me but to have it help somebody else as well is really important and really special.
Your Dad has been in the spotlight as well, what has he taught you about growing up in the spotlight?
I think the number one thing he told me that he respects about me that he wishes he would have done more, is move on from things faster and stuff like living in the past and when things don’t always go great, instead of being “oh I wish,” instead, apply that to the future and just move on. You can’t change what has happened in the past, you can only do better in the future and make better choices. Life happens, you gotta keep going. I’m definitely like that, no matter what happens, I’m always onto the next thing. I think that’s a really important quality he has definitely instilled in me is to just enjoy life, instead of taking everything so seriously, just have fun. You only have one life so you might as well. I think one thing that I’ve also learned from him growing up was his work ethic and his non-stop life and he loved it, what he did so much. It’s the same with me, I love what I do so much and it’s always non-stop but it never feels like work because you’re always getting to do what you love. Everyday he teaches me a new lesson, I mean he’s my dad. Those two things though I have used the most and applied them to my career.
You started in the industry at a young age, what has changed over the years while you have been in the industry?
It’s crazy. I’ve always known where I wanted to go and I’ve always had really big goals and I’ve always known and thought long term about every decision and thing that I do. When I was younger I think, even though I knew myself so well, I was still at the same time figuring it out and figuring out like how to stand up for myself and being a nine year old in a room with a bunch of 30/40 year olds, who overlook someone that young a lot of the times. I think I’ve learned a lot through bad and good situations, like how to stand up for myself, but respectfully, without being rude towards them, I’d just tell them in a nice way what my vision is. Also, being thrown into a lot of just weird and random situations that taught be to think quick. I think when I was nine or ten, I was figuring out this industry and being in a grown up dominant industry. As I got older, I think I started to become more into the stories through the music, I feel like every year I get more about the lyrics, and more about the message. Obviously it’s a balance because you still want to have a good vibe of a song, whatever you’re capturing. I feel like with my music you really want to continue to have, even if it’s underlined, nothing too drastic, like some sort of message that’s a little bit more meaningful, whether it’s super committed to a really fun song or it’s very ballad but super emotional. I want to continue to experiment with different topics and word choices. I feel like as a I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten meticulous with words.
Most people start off on Disney or Nickelodeon when they start at a young age, which you didn’t. How did you get started in the industry at a young age?
I started with national anthems. I was nine, I discovered I could sing randomly, none of my family does anything musical so it was a complete shock to everybody. I knew how to play piano since five, so I started writing music and applying that to my voice. I sent in a video of me singing the national anthem to a team where I grew up in Wisconsin called the Wisconsin Badger team and I ended up doing the Packers, Lakers, Dodgers, I did all these national anthems and that was kind of my way to prove to my parents at nine years old, I’m doing this forever. That’s how I got started and then I ended up releasing covers on YouTube because YouTube was kind of newer back then, so I thought it was a good way to kind of get my name heard to the masses outside of Wisconsin. Then I released all my own music and made that switch and then got signed to a label, then I left the label.
You released your album Redemption as well, how have you changed since your music from 2016?
I think the number one thing that was different, besides all the stuff that went down within the industry around my career. I’ve never been in a relationship before and a lot of music is about relationships, so I put those work relationships into my music. There’s a lot of stuff that I have to talk about that I didn’t put in the last album. I grew older though and I went through more things and things got more intense. I wanted to be really honest, looking at my past album I was, it was still me but there were a lot of people that were influencing the sound and certain messages that they thought I should be singing about. I knew who I wanted to be but I also wanted to trust in the people I was working with, which is important but I think I did that too much and lost myself in the process. For Redemption I wanted to do the release independently and write the music and sing music whether it’s catchy or not, I wanted to say that I chose all the songs on here, I chose the track listing, I chose what songs to release first, those little things just make it that much more special to the fans listening because they know what they’re listening to is from the artist completely. I feel like it was my most personal project and was the first time I really showed that side of me.
That must have felt really fulfilling!
It felt amazing, it was so good. A big weight lifted off of my shoulders, I’ve done it and can leave all the negative stuff in the past and I was really proud of myself for moving on.
Do you have a favorite song off the album?
That’s really hard because I love them all for different reasons but I would say overall, Redemption. Besides one of the singles, one of the songs on the album maybe Playing For Keeps.
What advice has Yuna taught you on tour?
This is the first tour that I’ve been on where I’ve had time with the artist and just talk and have an interaction with. A lot of the tours, like one off shows, one I did with Camila Cabello and she’s amazing and the sweetest person but it’s such a machine the way tours are run. This is Yuna’s first U.S. tour, so she’s figuring it out too so she hangs out after the shows, it’s more of a family environment. One thing she has taught me was, since I’m a perfectionist, she taught me how to calm down, about stuff. People who come to the show just want to see you give it your all and if you’re engaged. Stuff happens though. She’s taught me how to lighten up on myself.
What is one inspiring quote that you’ve heard in life that you want to ECHO to your fans?
Throughout my whole life, my Grandpa before he passed, the one phrase he used was dare to dream. I wrote a song called Dare To Dream when I was nine, my first song and it was dedicated to him. I feel like that phrase has always stuck throughout my life for everything and how I discovered my voice and figuring it out not having any experience but knowing how far I’ve come and still have things to accomplish. I feel like Dare To Dream never gets old, it always sticks. I feel like the youth in people who are listening to my music I really want to encourage them not feel like you’re limited, like you can only do so much. You can do whatever you put your mind to as long as you work hard and you make smart decisions and you have fun. You can do anything you want to if you do those things. Dare To Dream is my ECHOing quote.