KCR Secret Sessions: Exclusive Interview with The Skins

To understand The Skins, you’ve got to listen to them. Their EP “Still Sleep” dropped in December and has already been widely praised. What genre is it? Well, the catchy choruses will make you want to dance like a pop song would, the underlying beats and rapping personify hip hop, the dramatic guitar element is a tribute to classic rock, and you can sing your heart out to the soulful vocals. Not to mention some influences from funk, blues and whatever else The Skins decide to throw in.

BAYLI Photo by Brittany Harper

The five-member band was established in Brooklyn. Siblings Reef (drums), Bayli (vocals), and Kaya (bass/ vocals) met Russ (guitar) and Daisy (guitar) at the School of Rock. What began as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath covers turned into an energizing blend of musical interpretation that is blurring the lines of traditional genres and producing an unmatched and unique sound.

After making a name for themselves in New York, they were signed onto Rick Rubin’s label Republic Records. Currently, they’re touring the nation with DNCE. I sat down and spoke with them before they tore up the stage at their first stop in San Diego.

What was the hardest part about getting here?

Daisy: “Yo, bringing 18 bags to the friggin’ airport to get them all here. But, we got them here and nothing got lost!”

Reef: “We got to the airport and they were like, ‘We’re gonna need a bigger truck.’”

Sure, having a big group does mean a lot of luggage. But, having five different minds has undoubtedly contributed to The Skins’ almost inimitable sound.

Bayli: “The Skins is just really all about diversity. We’re super collaborate in every way collectively—we’re family—but we’re also individuals. It’s like growing up, it’s like going to high school; we had to take that time to really find ourselves.”

However, even with all their combined ideas and sounds, they still thank their rock-and-roll beginnings for giving them an edge.

Reef: “When we went to music school that was sort of the thing there, rock and roll.”

Daisy: “Being in the rock world first and then coming into where we are now I think was really helpful, because we kind of learned how to be a tight band before anything else. We still have the tightness that we had when we were playing very technical music.”

Band member Daisy playing guitar, purple background

DAISY Photo by Brittany Harper

Their ability to breathe new life into traditional music is what got them signed by legendary Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin.

Russ: “Back when we initially played for Rick we were doing this cover of ‘Mercy’ by Kanye West, but it was like a heavy-rock type thing and that’s kind of what attracted him towards us in the first place.”

After they graced the world with their debut single, “Bury Me” featuring D.R.A.M., they released their long awaited, five-song EP “Still Sleep” in December.

Bayli: “We feel so blessed that it’s even out and happening, we’ve been waiting for years. Like working on the sound and the music, and so it’s been like four or five years.”

Reef: “[Laughing] Wait-working.”

What was the inspiration for your EP?

Bayli: “In terms of sounds and the music, just experimenting with different sounds over the years, but then lyrically and conceptually really just like New York City, our city, and just our experiences. The things that we saw on the news, the things that were happening socially, culturally in the city. We pulled a lot from just our everyday experiences.”

Daisy: “We tried to come and smack people in the face with our music.”

guitars, Russ, red jacket

RUSS Photo by Brittany Harper

Blending a bunch of different genres together makes an awesome sound, but it’s almost impossible to label.

Daisy: “We’ve been saying Genre Z just because, one, that’s bad a** and two, it kind of makes sense because it really is a bunch of genres mixed in together.”

They also shared some funny stories about working with Rick Rubin. Apparently, he raises his own chickens, is into water aerobics and has an incredible beard.

Bayli: “[The morning after] we met him he left us a carton of eggs—he has chickens—with a note.”

Reef: “And glacier water.”

Bayli: “He was really sweet and really welcoming and really personable with us the first time we met him.”

Reef: “I was like Rick, all the classic records are cool, all the name drops are cool, but I really just wanna know how you condition or shampoo this beard.”

Drummer, Reef, purple backdrop

REEF Photo by Brittany Harper

As would be expected, the band has a long list of diverse inspirations.

Daisy: “Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They’re the reason I picked up the guitar. I heard that first album and I was like, I need to play guitar like that.”

Bayli: “Amy Winehouse is like my favorite, I have this Amy tattoo.”

Reef: “I grew up listening to mostly ‘70s and ‘80s music, old R&B and funk.”

Kaya: “I’m definitely into Young Thug right now.”

Russ: “Really crispy, clean pop productions. Anything Max Martin does.”

Daisy: “And you can hear it, everyone’s like ‘Oh, I can hear a tinge of that.’”

KAYA Photo by Brittany Harper

The band is more than a melting pot of different sounds, they’re also a melting pot of different people. And, just like with their music, they are blurring divisive lines and setting a modern example of inclusion.

Daisy: “It’s nice that we have a voice for all different types of people. All different shapes and sizes, all different colors, and we always try to send a positive message.”

Bayli: “I was always nerdy and weird and different. Even being in Brooklyn and liking rock music in the hood, or like dressing differently. We’re just all about self-love and self-expression.”

The Skins have come a long way from playing classic rock together on the weekends. They are ignoring traditional musical norms, blending personalities and genres to create a transcendent and inclusive sound that has something for everyone. Their music is ahead of its time, and points to the (hopeful) future blending of many genres. In their hit, “Bury Me,” Bayli sings, “Baby I wish you knew that we could break the rules.” It’s clear that they already have, and maybe it’s time for the rest of the music industry to follow suit.

group shot, six people

Left to right: Daisy, Bayli, Reef, myself, Kaya, Russ. Photo by Brittany Harper

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Victoria Moorwood