The Skins Go Beyond Race, Gender and Genre
You know how it’s so easy to just delete people off your Facebook now for stating their political opinion on basically everything? It’s way too easy for people to divide themselves based on practically any difference of opinion, and there may not be an end to the divide anytime soon, which is why we will instead have to find unity in other things, such as art and music.
When looking for a band that truly looks blindly beyond race, gender and genre, The Skins bring a new meaning to unity and simply to good f*cking music.
If you close your eyes and listen to just one of their singles, “Bury Me,” you’ll likely be bobbing your head and singing the words after just one chorus. When you open them, you’ll see singers Bayli and Kaya stylishly dressed, doing choreography, playing the bass, rapping, and their bandmates grooving together in unison. These are not just a group of kids in a band, or a group of singers, or a group of girls precisely choreographed, or a group bound by a specific predetermined genre, Nope, they are so much more.
While it’s typical for bands to be of one race, or often one gender, The Skins ignore that and just do what’s right for the music. The Brooklyn quintet is comprised of three siblings—BayLi [lead vocals], Kaya Nico [vocals, bass], and Reef Cole [drums] — and two of their friends who became “family,” Daisy Spencer [guitar] and Russ Chell [guitar, synth].
Their EP, “Still Sleep,” was just recently released including the group’s critically acclaimed single, “Bury Me” (feat. D.R.A.M.) and they’re now supporting DNCE on tour.
This EP is truly fire, their live performance is one you don’t wanna miss, and the truth of it is, a good song is a good song — no matter the color of your skin, your hair style, or anything else.
Check the video out for “Bury Me” here and then download “Still Sleep”!
Since three of you are actual family, when was the moment you started actively pursued being a band? Did you grow up learning instruments or going to dance class?
BAYLI: We grew up in a creative household where our parents always exposed us to amazing art and music and encouraged us to express ourselves through art. I studied fine art (oil painting, sculpture, etc.) from elementary school through high school & 1st year of college, while Kaya pursued ballet, modern, African and contemporary dance from a very young age. Reef wasn’t so different growing up. He was extremely musically inclined from a very young age. He first picked up drumsticks and played a beat at the age of 7 and from there he continued to expand on his natural musicianship and is now skilled in several instruments including guitar, bass and keys. We all attended music school in our pre-teen & teenage years and after a while of covering other people’s music we decided that we wanted to make our own, which is how The Skins came about.
How did you meet Daisy and Russ, and how did you decide to add them to your music fam?
BAYLI: We’ve known Daisy and Russ for years! I first met Daisy in music school when I was 14 and we immediately became close friends. One day, Daisy saw a video that my siblings and I posted on Facebook of us covering rock songs in my mom’s basement. I think we were covering “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones and “Apple Tree” by Wolfmother. She was immediately intrigued and called me to ask if she could come jam with us. She came by and brought Russ along, who we’d met a few times in School Of Rock. We rocked out together and everything just clicked! The rest is history.
Your music is an amazing mix of practically every genre — where do you pull your inspo from when you are writing new music?
RUSS: The inspiration for songs can be really random at times, spurring from a synth sound or a cool drum pattern. Just that one seed can turn into an entire song and it almost always ends up entirely different from that first seed of an idea. During that process we’ll reference songs we love or what’s really grabbing people’s attention to see if we can add that into the production and make it into something modern and accessible but also something we’re proud of
On stage, you guys have so much energy — you can sing, rap, dance, play instruments, is there anything you can’t do?
REEF: Well, I don’t think we can juggle and play our instruments at the same time, but, if we could, that would be pretty cool.
You guys are unique in that you have multiple races and multiple genders, playing multiple genres. Was this ever a conscious decision? Or were you just doing what was best for the music?
BAYLI: We’ve only just started to realize how diverse and unique we are as a group. It was never something that was planned out. The making of The Skins was super organic and it’s pretty amazing how everything just fell into place. The fact that we’re all Individuals with different personalities, tastes’ and outlooks on life only makes our music, and other creative endeavors, more unique, and hopefully, distinct. At first, it was a challenge trying to blend all of our ideas into one sound but we figured out the formula that works for us and it’s created a style only us five could come up with.
Using samples and electronic sounds seems to be super popular nowadays, but you guys grew up on rock music, something that a lot of people say is a dead genre. Do you think rock music is truly dead?
RUSS: I think rock music in the sense of what it meant in the 1970’s is dead and I really only mean that on a sonic level. We’re seeing a lot of new acts like Rae Sremmurd and Tame Impala keeping the spirit and vibe of rock music very much alive. You have to integrate electronic elements and samples to be on the cutting edge, the old school way of doing things is kind of an exhausted archetype that people don’t really respond to anymore. A big part of our growth and development was bringing in the use of electronic elements into our live show.
You are a completely live band — how does it feel to play your music live on stage?
BAYLI: We feel like performing live is our strong suit! We completely thrive during or live shows. It’s time for us to be completely expressive and we think our audience gets a way better idea of who The Skins really are during the live show. We trying to make our live shows as vivacious as we are and we interacting with the crowd and things like that! Our live show is high energy and we hope it encourages people to let loose and dance out all the stress and baggage that sometimes comes along in life.
DAISY: There is no better feeling than playing music for people. I feel like a different part of me is present on stage compared to the person I am when I walk off stage. I feel way cooler when I have a guitar in my hands, and I truly love playing this instrument.
What other kinds of music are you guys influenced by? Who are some of your favorite bands or artists that have played a role in your sound development?
BAYLI: The thing that makes The Skins work is that we all have individual tastes in music. I’m more of an old soul. I like classic jazz artists like Sarah Vaughn and Nina Simone, but I also really like classic and glam rock artists like T. Rex and David Bowie. I’m also really inspired by East and West African music like the artists Bombino and Fela Kuti or but one of my favorites of all time is definitely Amy Winehouse. My taste in music is all over the place! I’m about universality. Safe to say I find inspiration in almost all art!
How does it feel to be on tour with DNCE?
REEF: DNCE is cool. Well one, they’re great guys. Two, the shows are very fun because they’re in dope venues and you know, I love their fans. Their fans are very accessible and they love the music we play I feel.
KAYA: #GOALS It’s dope, we hope to be able to sell out shows like they do some day.
DAISY: It’s awesome getting to watch them do their thing every night. The energy between our crew and theirs is really fun.
Bay and Kaya, you girls have some killer style — where does your fashion inspiration come from? What is your favorite outfit to perform in?
BAYLI: We are New York City girls to the max and our city is most definitely where we got our style from. Being from Brooklyn and growing up with little money and fewer resources, we become DIY with fashion from a very young age. Our mother taught us how to be master bargain hunters and always encouraged us to wear and dress how we feel because fashion is just another form of self expression. If you feel and look good on the outside , you’ll feel good on the inside. I have always dressed outside the norm and have always been the weird, artsy friend on the side. Growing up I sometimes got made fun of about my different style choices but it never stopped me from doing my thing. I think the fact that My parents were really “city-hippie” and open minded people who always supported my weird fashion choices helped me become the strong willed art nerd I am today (haha). My style has evolved over the years. Recently I’ve been doing the urban glam rock kind of swag and I really like it. Lots of distressed denim, over sized clothes and glitter filled make up!
KAYA: My style inspiration comes from growing up in NYC. I love to mix high end with things I find from thrift. My favorite thing to perform in is probably a nice pair of kicks!
For More on The Skins:
Get “Still Sleep”: