Menu

Search anything and hit enter

<2 years ago>

Dave Jenkins

WORDS

We Need To Talk About Skellytn

NOW READING •

We Need To Talk About Skellytn

Meet Skellytn: an intergalactic arms dealer, currently building up an army of high-tech war machine X 11 robots that she found on a distant planet. She’s 50% human, 50% cyborg, 100% badass.

This is the conceptual alias and mindset LA-based Kaley immerses herself in as an artist. Whatever you see on her socials, whatever you hear on her releases – it’s all created within, and inspired by, this paranoid, futuristic, apocalyptic universe she’s been developing over the last few years.

Her unique universe was first apparent with her last EP Cybernetic Ritual, but is much more evolved and sprawling with her latest release – Neurocomputer. A conceptual, narrative album that flexes from malware-flavoured neuro to AI-enhanced minimal, it’s out this week on Reid Speed’s Play Me Records and it’s a pivotal release from all directions… Not only is it Skellytn’s debut album, but it’s also the first D&B album to be released by a female producer in North America!

A moment long-overdue for the whole scene and a moment long-time coming for Kaley Skellytn who’s been devouring electronic music for well over a decade and honing her skills since the mid 2010s. An alumni of LA’s famous Icon Collective – where the likes of Jauz, Slander, HVDES and Sullivan King all graduated – she spent the last two years of lockdown buried deep in her craft and Neurocomputer is the result. It’s a compelling trip that highlights the exciting storytelling strength of D&B when delivered in such a thoughtful, dynamic way.

All guns blazing into 2022, we caught up with Kaley to find out more…

Skellytn · Skellytn – Dystopia

Let’s chat about neurocomputers in general for a second… We’re talking about wetware, AI, everything like that, right?

Yeah it’s combination of all of it – AI, the inevitability of human organic matter and technology fusing and how that line between humanity and technology is ultimately blurring. I would even include crypto and blockchain within this whole dialogue.

Do you read a lot about this away from production and creativity?

Totally. I’m a huge a fan of cyberpunk and sci-fi. It’s been a massive source of inspiration for me and has been since I saw Blade Runner.

That’s been a huge source of inspiration for jungle for ever. The futurist aesthetic and Vangelis’s score. Can you remember the first time you saw it?

Oh sure. I was in high school, way too young to be watching such a movie and it left a huge impact on me. I also want to say Terminator and more recent stuff like Ready Player One – you watch it and think ‘this will never happen?’ Then you go on Facebook and you see the Metaverse and all this stuff and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh – it kinda predicted it.’

I think sci-fi predicts things, but also inspires or influences directions, too. So let’s go back to your musical inspirations – Skrillex’s Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites was the big turning point moment for you, right?

Yeah I’d been listening to electronic music since very young anyway, like maybe 10 years old. It was a lot of Skream and Benga and Deadmau5 and things like that. But when I first heard Skrillex it was like a switch was turned on in my brain and I was like, ‘Wow I have to do this! Like right now!’ I started looking into what I needed to do and how I could do it from that moment on.

Did you have any type of musical background or anything?

No none at all. The first type of training I had was at Icon Collective here in LA in 2019. Before that everything was self-taught. It was cool to have some professional musical training and it was an honour to get to go and experience that.

Oh cool. Many great artists have come from that school. Did you move to LA for that?

No I’m local born and raised.

Oh that’s quite rare in these interviews. Most people I speak to in LA have moved there in pursuit of their careers. But you’ve grown up in the real LA and know the real city?

Definitely. The real underground. All the scenes, all the locals and I see how much hard work they have been putting in for years and years. They feel like family to me now.

That’s awesome. The main people I know of in LA who’ve been holding it down forever have been Respect

Yeah I love those guys and what they’ve done for the scene. I’ve been going there for a while and have been lucky to play for them a few times now. I always have so much fun. The Respect crew are amazing.

It’s been really important to have those crews representing drum & bass in America as it’s not like over here where we hear it on TV adverts and daytime radio is it? D&B is still underground in the US isn’t it?

It is, but I feel there’s a great new movement happening over here and a lot more interest in the music and support of the culture. Especially here on the underground in LA. I feel like it’s finally time for America to have drum & bass.

There’s definitely a new wave happening with people like yourself, Airglo, Justin Hawkes, Reaper…

Yeah Reaper is huge here now. Also Dr Apollo and CLB too. There so much going on.

Wicked. It felt like things were about to erupt at the start of 2020 with the DNB2020 hashtag but then lockdown happened. Do you think lockdown gave people time to hone their sounds even more and now people are flying out of the gates with their best material?

Absolutely. For me especially, the time off work and on lockdown gave me time to learn so much. All I did was sit here and write music. I did literally nothing else and wrote around 35 songs, which eventually led to my album. I’m very proud of my progress, too. If you go back to my first EP and compare it to the album, it doesn’t even sound like the same producer. But the grind was real and it was very intense but it’s very rewarding.

Skellytn · Skellytn – Voodoo

Yes! And I’m guessing the album is the best of the best of those 35 tracks?

Yeah I’d say so.

It covers so much ground, too, in a very punchy space and time. Like ‘bang – this is every side and style of Skellytn!’ Have some of that!

Haha yeah. It was a lot to narrow it down to just those tracks. I actually make a lot of neuro, but I wanted to include lots of different sides of the whole scene I love and represent the groundwork that was done in the UK and has spread across the world. It’s such a rich genre and I wanted to reflect that with some minimal sounds and some halftime sounds and some jungle sounds. It’s an honour to participate in this sound, be part of the culture, create my own sound and make my mark as the first woman releasing a D&B album in America.

Woah…. Hang on!?

Really!

How crazy is that? Sad it’s not happened sooner, but what a moment for you. That’s awesome. Were you aware of that when you were writing the album?

Not really. Thankfully. That would have been too much pressure. But when the first single came out I was talking to the label manager and I asked, ‘Am I the first US woman to do this?’ And he said ‘yeah you are – you didn’t know that?’ That was the first moment I knew.

Mind-blowing. And what’s cool about this is that it’s a really artistic album that’s conceptual and a proper body of work that feels like it tells a story.

That’s great to hear because I wrote it like that. I’m actually doing a 30-minute concept album mix with pieces of interlude between the songs which tells the sci-fi story of the character I play on my Instagram of this half human, half cyborg who’s an arms dealer who owns this cyber weapons company. I took a lot of inspiration from The Federation in Star Wars and the evil people trying to rule the galaxy.

That’s my character in this album and it’s the story of her creating robots which she calls X 11. They are like high-tech war machine robots which she finds on a planet. So it’s a story I tell with the music and the album tying it all together.

Oh wow deep! So you’re paying homage to D&B and paying homage to one of the biggest sources of inspiration for a lot of producers. Did the inspiration for the concept come to you in a flash or gradually as you were writing?

It’s been slow baking. Originally for Skellytn, as a whole I had a spooky Halloween aesthetic to everything. But over time I fell out of love with that and felt it was too obvious, so I reinvented what Skellytn even is. Not just the music, but the way it looks and the whole dialogue and visual themes with it. So I thought about exoskeletons and my love for sci-fi and technology. So my last EP was called Cybernetic Rituals, which helped set the scene for this big project.

Awesome. So are your plans after the album?

I’m hoping to release a lot of singles. I’ve got some collabs I’m really looking forward to putting out into the world. One with Reid Speed and one with an Australian artist called Dr Werewolf. He’s a good friend of mine and we got this amazing vocalist from Trinidad who’s given us this really raw, grassroots vocal we had a lot of fun working with. It’s a song I’m very proud of and I hope it comes out this year. it’s been crazy as we’ve done the whole track over Zoom.

What’s the sweet spot between time zones in LA and Australia?

Around 3-5pm here, which is 9-10am over there. We hop online and discuss ideas and development. It’s been interesting because I’m just giving verbal notes and can’t reach out and actually produce things and physically touch the DAW. But I’m really excited about that.

Sick. That highlights the exciting potential of tech and where we’re at right now which is cool because I was going to wrap up with this question… If you could incorporate tech into your body somehow, what would it be and why?

My back! The reason I named myself Skellytn was because I had a back injury a long time ago in 2015 and I had to get chiropractic and acupuncture and physical therapy to heal. So I named myself Skellytn as a joke because I have a bad skeleton. Now I’m much better, but I’d still get some type of badass exoskeleton fitted!

Skellytn – Neurocomputer is out February 11 on Play Me

Follow Skellytn: Facebook / Soundcloud / Instagram / Twitter

More Like This

Popular

CLOSE