Before Kacey Musgraves performed at the 2019 Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday (Oct. 6), the Grammy-winning artist sat down with one of her biggest fans -- one who just so happens to be an up-and-coming singer-songwriter herself.
Earlier this year, Bumble Bizz, the popular dating app’s professional networking mode, launched a new contest that pairs aspiring women musicians with some of today’s hardest working artists. As part of this Empowered by Bumble Bizz initiative, Skyler Day had the chance to meet with Musgraves and talk shop backstage ahead of her standout ACL Music Festival set. Empowered by Bumble Bizz gives musicians like Day the chance to learn from women artists who’ve paved the way for them at some of the biggest festivals in the country, and she was especially thrilled to spend time with Musgraves who she’s maintained is one of her songwriting idols.
Day is no stranger to performing herself: she’s an actress who’s appeared on film and television, and her experience on stage and screen has helped her grow as a songwriter. “The worlds meld so perfectly,” she says of the connection between acting and music. “With music, it feels a lot more personal. Obviously, when I’m in a film or television show, I’m getting my own emotions out through someone else’s words. In that sense, it feels very different, because as soon as I step into anything musically, it’s very, very personal.”
Below, Day dishes about her conversation with Musgraves at ACL Music Festival, why she wanted to be a part of the Empowered by Bumble Bizz experience and more.
You’ve had an exciting day here at ACL Music Festival! Let’s go back to the very beginning: when did you first become interested in music?
I wrote my first song when I was 10 -- that’s when I first discovered songwriting. It’s one of those clichés: I’ve been singing since I came out of the womb (laughs). I don’t remember not singing, but I do remember discovering songwriting. That’s my favorite part of music. I can’t fall asleep to songs, to music if it has lyrics, because I’m too focused on that. I picked up guitar when I was 14, and that’s when I really started writing a lot.
As a working musician, did you have a big break moment before this one with Bumble Bizz?
I recently played the Troubadour, and the [renowned L.A. venue] is the coolest thing ever. I’m a big fan of Carole King and Elton John, so playing there and getting to walk down those stairs onto the stage -- it was a dream come true. I also played Sundance and opened for Rita Wilson, which was really cool! Tom Hanks came up to me, and he said, “We’ve been prepping for this show all week! We’ve been listening to your music and we love it!” I thought to myself, “Oh my GOD, I’m gonna have a heart attack, because Tom Hanks is standing right there, and Rita’s right there watching me!”
What intrigued you about this Empowered by Bumble Bizz opportunity?
I’ve been a fan of Kacey forever, [since] she released her very first song, “Merry Go Round.” I follow her on Instagram, and I just saw her post about it, and I was like, “I could try that!” So many people had commented when they entered, and I was like, “Well, I’ll just throw my hat in the ring. Who knows.” It’s such a cool contest -- but it’s not really about competition, if you think about it. There is this thing about how women are always in competition with each other. This is the polar opposite of that. I love how Bumble Bizz is taking these successful women and having them help women who are on their way up. The more that happens, the more we’ll see that there’s room for all of us. We’re all different; we’re all doing different things.
How did your conversation with Kacey go backstage before her ACL Music Festival set?
We sat in her green room, and it was kind of a whirlwind -- do I even remember anything that just happened? I feel like I slightly blacked out! (laughs) It was great. We talked about the fact that I’m doing everything independently. My dream is to be able to have help, so we discussed that. I asked what touring was like, because I’ve never been on a tour, so it was interesting to hear her take on it. We talked about songwriting, mainly: I write a lot on my own, and so I asked a lot about co-writing and things like that. She said “Find your tribe.” That was probably the coolest thing to hear about, her songwriting process and everything that goes into it.
What makes Kacey a perfect Empowered by Bumble Bizz match for you?
I felt like this was kismet, just because I’ve been following her forever and she’s been such a huge influence. I love her songwriting and I love how everything she does can be stripped away of production [to just] a guitar and her vocals. I worship her music in that sense. One of the things we talked about was genre, because I’ve never quite known where I fit. I’m a girl with a guitar, so I’m a singer-songwriter. I was born in Georgia and I grew up doing country, so I’m kind of country, but then I’m in L.A., and I’ve got all these pop influences that I love. I’m in this weird space, but I also feel like she is, too. It was cool to hear her say, “Do what you wanna do, and then the right people will find you.”
Bumble Bizz seeks to shed light on industries in which women still need support, including the music industry, which would benefit from more equal representation. Has this been your experience, and how do you feel about the state of things for women in music leading into 2020?
I’m excited. I do feel like there’s a shift happening. I mean, the whole point of this Empowered by Bumble Bizz program is to get more women on stage at festivals, and give them a voice. I’m feeling pretty friggin’ excited and inspired by what’s happening. I’m hyper-aware of the lack of music that represents my experience as a woman in the world, so I’m excited to be a part of the solution through my own music. I want to be a part of the conversation and I want to be a part of moving it forward in any small way.
Check out Skyler’s latest single, “Honest” below: