Justine Skye is far from your average Brooklynite. Skye embodies her borough. It’s the only place she’s ever called home, and she’s quick to prove to you that “there’s nothing like a Brooklyn girl.” But despite the fact that she sings about seeking solace in the crowded cars of the A train and is in the process of breaking out with her latest EP, Emotionally Unavailable, Skye can’t help but remember how unpopular she was growing up in Brooklyn.
“I never got to hang out at the park — my mom made me go home immediately,” she tells the Voice during a break from rehearsal. “I used to, like, sneak and go, but she never let me go to any other parties, which I’m thankful for now…. I went to school literally within the same six-block radius for my whole entire life, even high school. As I got older, I never built connections with my teachers or the people at the corner store.”
Instead, Skye found friendships (and popularity) on the internet through her Tumblr, The Purple Unicorn, and Twitter. Initially, the budding songstress shared selfies, GIFs, and cover songs for her followers to enjoy, but after several recording sessions in Los Angeles, things changed IRL for Skye. She started palling around with celebrities (“It just naturally clicked; we would just follow each other and we had mutual friends really, so we just started hanging out,” she says of her relationship with the Jenner sisters and Jaden Smith) and undertaking collaborations. Smith — whom Skye calls “super cool” and “super down to earth” — recently invited Skye on his Beats 1 radio show, Msfts Frequency, while Kendall and Kylie can be seen in the video for Skye’s hit song “I’m Yours” featuring Vic Mensa.
“They’re some of my best friends, and I learn a lot from them,” Skye says. “We support each other and we appreciate each other’s friendship and that’s the best I can ask for.”
Last week, Skye sent out a note to her fans explaining that she had some bad news and some good news. The bad news was Skye would be shortening her Emotionally Unavailable Tour to just three dates in major cities: Chicago, L.A., and New York (December 2 at the Gramercy Theatre). The good news: Skye has been in the studio, working on an amazing new project and a new sound.
“I’ve been in the studio a lot figuring out myself,” Skye says. “In the beginning, I was making music. I was just really excited and I wasn’t really thinking about it too much. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to put this out! I need to put this out!’ and now I’m getting older and I want to tell a real story.
“I’m maturing,” she continues. “My sound is changing as well and I want to be more involved in my music. I don’t want people just sending me songs to record. I want to live and be this person that I’m presenting to people, not just sing songs for them.”
Still, Skye is tight-lipped and discreet about details concerning her upcoming project, her third since bursting on the scene at eighteen with purple hair and a debut titled Everyday Living. “It’s definitely more ‘vibey.’ I don’t want to say too much about it because it’s in the works,” she says. “It’s telling more of a story. It has more meaning to it and I’m really excited for it to come out.”
Just months ago, Skye reached a milestone in her narrative when she was invited to perform — in her neighborhood — at the Barclays Center for Tidal X’s 10/20 concert.
“I literally live right down the block from Barclays, so just being from Brooklyn, to just say that I performed there at one of the biggest shows by one of the biggest Brooklyn legends there is, Jay Z — it’s just like a huge monumental moment for me in my life,” Skye says. “I killed it, too. I was nervous — I’ve never performed in front of that many people before, and it was just so amazing to see how my neighborhood received me. I put on for my city.”
Tonight, Skye is set to kick off the first of her three Emotionally Unavailable dates at the Gramercy Theatre. If you’re lucky, you might catch her riding on the A train uptown.
Justine Skye plays the Gramercy Theatre on December 2. F