By: Emily Holtzman
Sky Rogers is a solo artist from St. Louis who performs under the name Sky. I’d seen Sky play a few times around Columbia, and was always impressed with the presence he had on stage. I met his partner, Molly, through the MU Vagina Monologues, and after hearing about their dreams to save the world through his music, I knew I had to talk to them.
I sat down with Sky and Molly and talked about everything from Sky’s music, to Molly’s goals to empower people everywhere, and how the two feed off of one another’s success. Read our conversation below:
When did you start making music/what inspired you?
Sky: When I was little. I started really making music in maybe 7th grade? My Mom got married and my stepdad had some software and he taught me how to use it, and I was like, ayeee. And that’s how I got started.
Biggest influences, musical and non-musical?
Sky: Musical? Kanye West, ‘cause he’s dope…FKA Twigs ‘cause she’s dope. A lot of Nirvana, I like Nirvana. And Tool, I don’t know, it’s a lot.
I’ve been looking through some of your social media, and I’ve noticed this term “grindpop” a lot—
Molly laughs–“a lot”
You say you’re creating this movement called grindpop, can you tell me a little about what that means?
Sky: I’ve played in a lot of bands, and like, a lot of styles of music. And before I got started on my solo stuff, I quit a band–
Molly: –A metal band.
Sky: Yeah, right after I left that, I was leaning more towards hip hop. But I was in my mom’s house, and I couldn’t record hard core lyrics in the house, and so I started making more soft spoken stuff. And I don’t know, as I was listening to both of these styles I started putting them together and then it became more like me just making want I wanted to. And then after I made it, I was like, I don’t know what genre this is. So… grindpop, let’s go.
I like that – if it doesn’t fit with something else just make it your own.
Sky: Yeah it’s like I made it myself. Everytime somebody asks me, it’s just really want I want to do basically. Because I don’t really have a specific genre I follow or anything like that, it’s just what I want to hear – it’s just grindpop.
So clearly your sound has changed a lot since you started making music, has the reason you make music, or the intention behind your music changed much?
Sky: Actually, yeah. The more I make music, I kind of find more reasons to make music. Like I have a lot of brothers and sisters – and at first I kind of made it to be famous, because you know, you make music to be famous–but then I started watching my brothers and sisters listen to it, and I was like dang, like they like my music? That’s kind of cool. So then I started making it more so just to like show other people that you really can do what you want to do, and you don’t have to freak out, you can just go for it and make it. And now that I’m older, it’s more so that like I don’t want to represent what’s always normal, and what everybody does. I kind of want to stand out – it’s been working that way since I started so I was like yeeeah.
I’ve seen you a few times, I saw you play the MU4MikeBrown benefit show, and I saw you at the Vagina Monologues benefit show. And I have to say both times, I was like, that is unlike any show I’ve ever seen before. I mean, both of those nights I thought were so powerful, but your set especially, I thought there was so much energy, and I just had lots of feelings. But, I guess, with shows like that, why do you think it’s important to be a part of something where people come together to show support for a specific cause?
Sky: With my music, because I feel with my music I don’t really fight for a certain cause or anything like that, but I feel like in those different environments, it’s a bunch of people that really like, are open to different things and different ways of expression. And that’s what I was looking for for a long time, because there’s not a lot of people that, you know, they listen to my music and be like “Oook,”–they’ll be like “that’s weird” and walk away from it. But I feel like in groups like that, there’s a lot of open people, people that’s accepting, and trying to just move past reality basically, they actually take it in and they listen to it, and they get the message that I wanna give out.
Those shows just give me such a great sense of community. Like one day, we’ll get there.
Molly: Exactly–that’s what I like about them too.
I guess, do you think that in the Columbia scene, and at Mizzou too, do you think people are supportive of these forms of activism, through art and music?
Sky: Actually, what I’ve been noticing is that it actually is. I’ve been finding so many people that’s down to help out and down to listen and stuff like that. And it’s real dope too because it’s like a college town so like, everybody out here is experimenting and trying to figure out new stuff, so it helps out so much. Because out here you’ll have music and it’s like, oh hey something new, I’m gonna like, listen to someone from home.
Yeah I think a lot of people are willing to go out to shows and have an experience, even if it’s something they’ve never heard before.
So I don’t want to place this on your music, but listening to it, I get a sense that it is a form of activism. Because it brings up a lot of issues – like I listened to your new song, “Golden” –
Molly: Ah, did you?? You’re too cool.
Yes, of course! I really liked that you made a lyric video, because I felt like I was reading it like a poem and analyzing it almost in the same way. I just get a sense that it’s a form of activism because it brings up a lot of issues that people are talking about today.
Sky: I don’t like being seen as like a stereotypical rapper, and like, what I notice and I hate about rap and hip hop is that a lot of stuff is materialistic. Or it’s just degrading in any way, like, not necessarily degrading towards women, like it can be degrading towards the person that’s singing it. Like you singing the song, you sing it with them, and as you’re singing it, you’re degrading yourself the whole time, and it’s like, what the fuck? When I make music, I talk about real stuff that I feel. That’s what music is, like it’s made to express yourself and what you feel, not some bullshit that you did yesterday. Nobody cares, you know? And then on top of that, I watch how music teaches people too. And if you’re rapping about selling drugs and talking about success right after that, people are gonna sell drugs thinking they’re gonna gain success out of that. But they won’t, because like, you’ll get caught and be fucked up. Just from listening to a song.
That kind of reminds me of your song “Role Model,” which you just posted the music video for.
Sky: Yeah that’s actually what that whole song is about. It’s about being a role model and the role models that we make for ourselves, they’re really not the best role models. Like you gotta find the role model in yourself.
I feel like it’s such a common debate – like people in pop culture will do bad things, and other people will call them out and say, “you’re setting a bad example.” And they’re like, “well is that my responsibility?”
Molly: It’s like, yes, it is.
It is! People are watching you. You have to take some responsibility.
Sky: That’s what fame is, you’re just a big role model for everybody.
I guess, on that note, we can talk about what really drew me to you guys and made me want to talk with you–basically about how you guys want to go out and save the world.
Molly: Yeah! Ok so my dream, I’m gonna get all big and whatever. You see all these celebrities and when they get famous, they have their huge house and it looks like a theme park, and like, me and him, we already discussed, like, we don’t want a huge house – I mean that’s more I have to clean, and I’m not about that. I feel like we could be investing in bettering the community and people that get overlooked so often. Even in the Vagina Monologues, we heard about deaf women who don’t have interpretors when they go to shelters, so they get overlooked, like well there’s a language barrier so too bad. Just because there’s no numbers there to support it, doesn’t mean there’s not people there that need it. So that’s very huge for me, and I find that so offensive for the people–they matter. So I want to create places where they have to go, because I feel like everyone deserves a home, everyone has a place in this world. And just because the majority doesn’t need it, those small marginalized groups do not need to be rejected. So, yeah, my dream is to have these shelters in every major cities, and the surrounding cities, and I just want it to spread like wildfire, and be completely funded and supported. Like, some of my extended family had issues with drug abuse, so it’s very personal for me. Even like rehab centers–whenever you think of rehab you think of crazy houses, and really they’re very underfunded, so I want to create places that will actually help people instead of just sending them off to prison to rot. So, yeah, those are the things that really push me to help him and him help me, to like, be more.
I will gladly hop on your bandwagon, that’s amazing.
I listened to that song, “Sundaze” a lot as well. How did you guys come together to do that?
Sky: It was funny, we [Molly and I] were just at our friends house, and she jokingly said, “Oh we should do a song with Naomi,” and I was like, oh shit that’s a great idea. And I really do love Naomi, because when we first moved up here, the first show I saw at Café Berlin I saw her perform, and I’m real big into spoken word, I love listening to spoken word — it’s good stuff to listen to. And she has such a powerful voice, and it wasn’t even just that. It was a powerful voice backed with powerful words, and I love both of those. And I heard a Common song a long time ago, and it had these poets in it, and it was such a good song, like Common will rap and they will come in with this like deep poetry in the middle of it, and I was like dang I want to do that with somebody, because no one does that for real. So I got with Naomi, and it was funny, because she was like “I don’t know how to do music!” like that. And I was like, no it’s cool just write anything, I just wanted her to express herself like as full as she could in the song. I don’t know, it just came out dope.
It’s really interesting; I’ve never really heard anything like it.
Molly: Yeah, they’re both just like so pro black, and I was like, you two need to have a song!
Sky: Yeah, it was dope, she just like showed up and was like, ok I wrote this part for the hook, and I was like ok, and she showed it to me, and I was like oh my god that’s the greatest hook I’ve ever heard in my life.
What’s coming up next for Sky? I know you just released an album, A231 1991–
Sky: Yeah, I’m in the process of releasing that, and I’m trying to get a lot of people to listen to it, because a lot of the songs on it are like, I don’t know, I really got into an emotional state on this whole album. Like something would happen, and I’d write a song, something would happen, and I’d write a song. So it’s a real expressive album, I really wanted it to be like, spread out, so I guess, putting it out is the next thing.
Molly: Music videos!
Sky: Yeah, music videos is another big thing we’re trying to get into. Like, I feel like the audio is there, but I just want a visual to go along with everything I’m doing.
Molly: And people definitely share that more.
Sky: True life. And then, we’re trying to start the A231 project.
Molly: It’s going to be like a talent show where we get a bunch of local artists together at a local venue to, you know, kind of boost the economy a little, while spreading the news that there’s local artists that need to be addressed.
That sounds like a really great event. So back to what you were saying about how this is a really expressive album, what do you think are some of the biggest themes you talk about?
Sky: Every song is like something different. That’s another thing I focus on a lot, like every song is always a different experience. And it’s crazy, like, I was struggling to write, I was having writers block like real bad, like I had all these beats and no words to put to them. And like one day, I had like a whole mental break down, I didn’t even know what the fuck to do for a second. And right after that, like, I wrote the whole song. And it was about ascending past life. And the next song after that was “Golden,” and I was talking to my friend on the phone, and we were just talking about injustices against black people, and he said something like, “It sucks that you gotta apologize for being black.” And I was like, “damn, that’s dope.” So I reversed that I’m a nigga. And then after I wrote that line I was like damn I really want to talk about the fact that it sucks, and I really feel the struggle just because I’m black. And then other songs, I feel like people get so locked up in life, for real, and like I do too. Like you go to work, you gotta go to school, you gotta do all this stuff that keeps you in a constant cycle that keeps you away from expressing yourself and keeps you away from adventuring into other things. And like I wanted to express that in my music – like you can adventure, you can go out and learn something, go do something, you know? It’s way more expressive, it’s dope, I don’t know.
Yeah, I mean just again, some of the lyrics in “Golden,” I was listening and they are just so perfect. Just that struggle between feeling like you have to apologize for who you are, but at the same time loving yourself for who you are.
Sky: Yeah, I feel like a lot of black people like, I really try to stress that to my black friends. We can’t expect other people to respect us, or to love us, or to care about us, if we don’t respect and love ourselves. Like it starts with you. Like we can march about a white guy shooting a black guy all day if we want to, but until we march about the black dude shooting a black dude, we’re not getting anywhere. You can’t fight off hate if you have hate within your group.
Yeah, really well said.
It’s real life. Laughs.