Skiddalz: The Noise Interview
Skiddalz is one of the most promising Hip Hop artists today. She hails from Southern Illinois and has received numerous awards, including the 2014 St. Louis Underground Music Award for Best Female Rap Artist.
She is not new to production music. Her first big break in sync licensing came from MTV when one of her songs got featured in the second season of the hit show Jersey Shore.
Skiddalz's new album under Pop Machine is now available to license through APM Music. We chatted with her recently and talked about several topics, from her new record to the state of the music industry.
Tell us about your new album from Pop Machine. Who produced the album, where did you record it, and how did the whole thing come together?
I was brought into APM by one of the music directors, Sarah Ponder. We’ve known each other for years through sync and she’s always been a fan of mine. She asked if I’d be interested in writing library music, and of course, I said yes, even though I had never done it before. Luckily, Robert Navarro, owner of Pop Machine, heard my stuff through Sarah and believed in me enough to ask me to make songs for Pop Machine. I was able to tap into my rap roots to make a super confident album surrounding the ideas of female-empowerment, success, and at times, struggle because we all go through it. But through the music, I wanted to express that you can persevere through anything and come out on top. I had 3 local producers from St. Louis come in to the project to make the beats for me, MJondabeat$, Bentley Hendrixx, and Davyne Truth. Some of it was recorded in a couple of professional studios in STL; one being my go-to studio, Suburban Pro. Other parts were recorded in basements, living rooms, and an apartment in Tampa. It was about a year long process and out came my first library album.
Tell us about your songwriting process. Do you produce your own beats? If so, does the beat come first before the rhymes?
For this particular project, I had a list of ideas that clients could potentially be looking for when it came to hip-hop tracks. So, I sat down with each beat maker individually and let them know my topics and themes, and they started creating the beat based around that. As they are putting the beat together, I’m focusing on coming up with melodies and cadences. I’m writing down thoughts and lyrics. Then after I present my ideas to them, we start meshing our work together and producing the record together. So it’s definitely a mixture of both beats and rhymes coming first.
"Twirl Your Hair," sounds like a song about self-awareness. What inspired you to write this song?
MJondabeat$ and I came together on this one. He’s someone I’ve been working with for the past couple of years and we’ve made a ton of records. We are super familiar and comfortable with each other’s creative process, so I told him I wanted to stick in the lane of “all about self”, but I wanted to make it a really fun track. So we both started brainstorming and Twirl Your Hair started coming to life. We kept playing with the chorus lines and seeing what sounded best. What I love about this song is it reminds me of my teenage self when I was first coming up in the hip-hop scene performing all over St. Louis. I had this “here I am; I don’t care what you think about me” attitude and it won audiences over. I wanted to replicate that in this song. So personal experience definitely inspired it.
DiggiDumDum is also about self-empowerment. Why is this theme important to you?
It’s important to me because I grew up very insecure and lacked confidence. I was good at a lot of things, but never really gave myself credit. As I got older and started performing on stages, I was able to live out this other side of me. A side of me that was a kick-ass woman. Over the past couple of years I really started growing into self-love and becoming more of who I’m supposed to be. I started eating better and taking care of myself. I lost over 130 pounds. I’m proud of myself. I’ve done so much work to get here. So, I want to relish in my confidence and continue to empower myself. But more importantly, I want to inspire and empower other people to love themselves, grow, and put their own self-work in. Because that’s what brings true meaning to life.
Many artists are uncomfortable disclosing that they write for production music libraries. This doesn't seem to bother you. Why?
I’m super honored to be working with such a prestigious company in music. APM, Sarah, and Robert… they are all allowing me to live out my dream. I get to create. I get to do it on my own time. And I get to make any type of song I want. I’m not restricted to a certain sound. I’m proud to be writing for the world’s leader in production music. I’m just a girl from a small town in southern Illinois that came from nothing. People from here don’t get to do these kinds of things. I do. I made this happen. I want to disclose it to the entire universe! haha
In this age of Tiktok and Instagram reels, music is being consumed in a very different way. The young listeners who use these platforms go straight for catchy 3-second hooks rather than listen to an entire song. How does this affect your songwriting?
Personally, it doesn’t affect it at all for me. I believe in writing a catchy, simple hook for the listener. I think having plenty of transitioning melodies is important as well. I’ve always written that way so it’s not much different than the 3 second attention span we hear in Tiktok videos. I believe if you write a good song, it’s going to stand on its own. Just “make good music and the rest will follow” kinda thing.
If you ever hear one of your songs in a TV series. What series would that be and why?
I’ve already had some pretty cool TV placements over the past years. My first one ever was in Jersey Shore back in 2010 when the show was at its height. It was a dream come true for me. I feel like Jersey Shore created this new path for shows that are on today. So it was just awesome to be a part of that history. TV series’ have exploded over recent years. There are so many shows now, who can keep up? I love it. It’s so good for sync. A placement that I would absolutely love to see happen would have to be in Euphoria, or All American. It would be incredible to say I have a song with one of those series’. But, low-key, I’m such a nerd - I can still envision a Skiddalz song in a Star Wars series (preferably Mandalorian because who doesn’t love Grogu?). Also, my all-time guilty pleasure series, The Challenge. Do your thing, APM ;).
Do you have unusual studio habits or superstitions like surrounding yourself with black roses during tracking?
Well, now that you mention the black roses thing, I am really into wanting to try that. I don’t think I do anything unusual, other than after every time I mess up a line during tracking vocals, I curse out loud so it sounds like it’s part of the recording. It’s sort of like the viral video of the little girl butchering the Whitney Houston song and getting mad at herself. That’s literally a mini version of me. I am hard on myself and want it to come out the right way.
Do you have any live shows, music videos, or any activations planned soon? If so, please share.
I have another new album out under APM’s indie-label, Kinetik that I’m super excited about. I recently got an amazing song placement with Xbox! Stacee over at Gravelpit Music was able to land that for me. I recorded the vocals for their Series S and Game Pass collaboration. They also used the instrumental to my song “Boss Bitch” for the background music. Check out the ad.
I’m working on new music with a fellow APM writer, Shanny Roc. She’s a dope songwriter and person. I’m also starting my own venture to help independent artists, specifically from the Midwest, break into the sync and licensing world. Be on the lookout for my company earWAV coming soon!
Could you give aspiring rappers/producers tips for navigating this crazy music industry and getting your music into production music libraries?
I think the most important thing is to constantly be learning about the business around you and what you want to enter into. I tell people all the time, Google is your friend. Also, feel free to message me! Like I said before, I’m working on a new venture that can help aspiring rappers and producers get into production music libraries. Making sure you have your paperwork and all of your bases covered is crucial when you’re dealing with art, music and creativity. Building relationships are vital in this industry. Be kind, respectful, and patient with yourself and others. Also, be a sponge. Surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like and learn from them. I am so grateful to have met many amazing people that are in positions that I want to be in and all I want to do is soak up their knowledge. Stay humble, invest in your talent, and the right people will in turn invest in you. It sounds cliche, but follow your dreams. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. I know because I’m living proof. I came from a little town in the middle of the Midwest, no money, didn’t know anyone in the business, but I just kept chiseling away because I believed in my talent. Now I have over 100 song placements under my belt, I’m a songwriter for APM, and am working on some of the greatest projects of my career. Don’t give up because you never know where your journey can take you.
Listen to Skiddalz latest album Now.