Skylar Grey is understandably exhausted. She is sitting at LAX after a ten-hour flight, waiting to go home following four whirlwind days in Glasgow bookended by her surprise appearance with MTV EMAs host Nicki Minaj. The two debuted Minaj’s new single, “Bed Of Lies.”
No stranger to collaborations with rapper, Grey also recently appeared on T.I.’s “New National Anthem” and has a song called “Twisted” with Eminem and Yelawolf coming on the ShadyXV compilation, due out Nov. 24. The Utah-based singer spoke to Billboard about how “Bed Of Lies” came to be, her own sophomore album and what Minaj shares in common with Eminem.
Are you officially on the “Bed Of Lies” single?
Yeah, the song started being written almost a year ago and then she picked it up and wrote her verses on it. Luckily, she liked the demo of it enough to keep me on the song. I knew it was maybe gonna happen, but she released a lot of different singles first. So I didn’t really know when she was gonna drop this song. And then about a week ago I got a call from her team and they wondered if I could come to Scotland and do the song with them. So yeah, it was the debut of this single featuring me.
How did she get the song?
I don’t know who actually played it for her initially, or the beginning of the song, but she somehow got it in her hands and finished it. It’s really great. She kind of poured her heart out on the verses. I personally think as a fan it’s a nice contrast to her other singles on the record. You get to see another side of her.
When you first heard her verses, which tell of a bitter relationship, possibly her own, what was your response?
When I heard that she was taking the song I was surprised because it’s not a typical kind of song for her. I was very excited when I heard what she did with it. She seemed to take it to a very personal place. And I love that, I love doing that with my songs and my collaborations, bringing out something that’s a little more emotional and personal with the artist.
Since you didn’t know each other beforehand, what was your impression of Nicki? Did anything surprise you?
I didn’t really have any surprises. To be where she’s at and do what she does, you have to be a really strong person and I kind of saw that. I hadn’t met her until the rehearsal and during the rehearsal I saw she is a very strong person who has a true vision for herself and I really admire her for that. … The greats know what they want and they follow their gut and they do it, just like Eminem and Nicki, they both do that.
How do you think Nicki did as host of the show?
I honestly didn’t watch, I was in my dressing room. I’m sure she was great, though, because she’s got a very strong personality and can wear a lot of hats well.
Are there plans for future appearances together?
There is talk of something, but I don’t have anything confirmed. I don’t think the EMAs performance was a one-and-done thing. The song had such a great response, it was trending immediately afterwards. She seemed to be really happy with it, so I think there are gonna be more things to follow.
What other artist do you feel like you could bring out that emotional side?
It’d be kind of interesting to try something with [Lil’] Wayne. I don’t know if he would ever go there, but it’d be interesting to see what would happen if he did something that was personal cause I haven’t really heard him do that.
How is this experience helping you in your own vision?
I’m starting to realize my favorite me is the real me, so here I am. I’m discovering I like me in my rawest form better than me with tons of over-produced music or tons of makeup on. I just think if she’s able to accept herself and Em is able to accept himself than why shouldn’t I be able to accept myself too? They come across as very confident and it makes me inspired to accept myself for who I am.
How far along are you on the record?
I’m constantly morphing because I’m discovering new things in the studio. It’s kind of like a free-flowing thing. But there’s something happening with me in the studio right now that seems kind of magical, all the sounds I ever envisioned coming together are coming together now. I’m working with my dream team, Mike Elizondo and Mark Batson. I feel like I have 80 or 90 percent done with all the writing. So hopefully that means I’ll be able to announce a release date soon.
Can you give us a preview then sonically of the new material?
I’m definitely taking some risks on the album and I’m doing some kind of avant-garde songs and then there are some songs that are not quite so avant-garde. But they sound really cool. It’s definitely more mature than the last album, I feel like on the last album I talked about my childhood and I’m definitely not doing that on this album. It’s more adult and a little bit darker. I’m not doing any collaborations, I just want it to keep it me.