Q: What is the purpose of music in the world?
Skylar: Connection. It’s literally a language that everyone speaks, because it’s about feeling. Music is probably the most powerful force on earth at this point. Not everyone plays it, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like some kind of music. Music is controlling our senses, it’s basically harnessing sound.
Q: Tell me about your songwriting process.
Skylar: I write the music first. Sometimes I’m just messing around on the instrument, and all of a sudden there’s this opening that I didn’t see before, and it literally comes to me. When I write a song and complete it, I don’t have to put much effort in. Because of that, I don’t feel like I should get credit for the songs that I write. I feel like I’m more of a messenger than a creator.
Q: Who are your music influences?
Skylar: I’m pretty open to all music. My main influences tend to be people who affect the roots of music. The Beatles, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Elton John. Plus Don Henley, the Sundays, Bonnie Raitt, and Gary Marks. These are some of my favorites.
Q: Where do you get your optimism from?
Skylar: By controlling my focal point. There are really horrible things that happen in life. But in any given day there are tons of good things, and plenty of bad things. If you spend your whole life focusing on every wrong thing in the world, your mind is so caught up in negativity that there’s no room for positivity.
Q: People find you funny. Where do you get this from?
Skylar: Well I think comedy is the biggest and most successful defense mechanism known to humankind. My family is very lighthearted, we joke around a lot, I must have picked it up from them. I have always loved funny people. When you cause laughter you are not being teased, but in fact complimented. Making people laugh is a form of showing and giving admiration and respect. When someone finds you funny, they get you. When someone feels comfortable with you, they can joke around with you.
Q: Where do you come up with your jokes?
Skylar: They just come to me. And I feed off people — being in tune with people and reading a situation. It’s all about timing. If you can read timing really well and get a good sense of people, then it’s hilarious. Really funny people don’t tend to be uptight. They are very relaxed and spontaneous. They come up with stuff in the moment. They are fun, and funny. Laughter is one of the biggest connections, because everyone likes the feeling of being happy and laughing. When you meet someone who makes you laugh a lot, you’re never bored with them. This is why I value humor so much.
Q: What do you think about friendship?
Skylar: People need people more than anything else. They need to connect. That’s why lonely people have cats, or other animals. But there is something about another person because they can speak to you. You grow in relationships, and get a sense of yourself — you find your place and where you are in the world. Basically all people are made up of the same chemicals. It’s incredible that out of all of the billions of people that exist, that you find one you can connect with.
Monogamous relationships can come and go but friends stick with you longer. Something about having someone your age and your culture, in your generation makes it so much more interesting, because you really understand each other. The tricky thing is finding another person that tolerates you. When you find that connection it’s really special.
Q: Why are people unkind?
Skylar: A lot of people aren’t as aware of themselves as they should be. I think the more self awareness a person has the less tendency there is to be mean and snobby, because they see how they affect the world and other people.
Q: What is your advice for people going through difficult times?
Skylar: It’s important to keep a bigger perspective. When you see how small you are compared to everything else, it makes everything else seem less overwhelming. It’s hard to do, but when you can, you are more humbled by this perspective. Not that you’re pointless, but this attitude makes everything else seem like less of a big deal. The other thing is to seek help. That’s why people need people. It’s unlikely that there’s no one else in the world who has gone through what you are going through. Talking to supportive people helps and gives you perspective. Maybe they have advice about how they got through it.
Q: How do kids and teens deal with disappointment with themselves?
Skylar: There is really no definition of normal. For the most part people can create their own identity. There are some things that are inherent to us. Maybe you don’t look how you wish you looked, or something about your brain doesn’t do quite what you want it to do, like a learning disability or something that makes you different. But people who are average (which is really only people who choose to be average) don’t change anything in the world. They don’t do anything bad, they don’t do anything good. A lot of people choose that and it’s fine. But if you have the gift to be different and have something unique about you, by all means embrace it and see it as a blessing! It gives you the option to not try as hard to been seen and unique. You were just given it. A lot of people try really hard to be different.
Q: Do you have advice for people who are disappointed with their lot in life?
Skylar: There’s one thing for sure, people have very little control over most things. A lot of people want control. But there are going to be so many things that you wish went differently, did happen or didn’t happen. The trick is to learn to be content in your own mind no matter what’s going on around you. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel other emotions and get sad or angry. But you need to get to the point where the emotions are not controlling you, and you have a grasp on them. You can get upset sometimes but you also need to know how to change the subject and drop it. The more you master your emotions the better you are. That’s really the ultimate control because no matter how hard you try, you can’t control anyone or anything else. Instead of being upset about how little you can control in the outside world, learn to control what you can within yourself.
In terms of someone breaking your heart, or a friend hurting you, or someone bullying you — these are sometimes a part of life. It’s better to go through life feeling a little bit of everything than feeling nothing. And it’s important to know when to let things go. If you get through the bad feelings you get the priviledge of feeling the good feelings. Usually all of the good things add up to more than all of the bad things.
Q: Why do people do evil or wrong things?
Skylar: Some people don’t have the ability to understand what they’re doing. Others think they are doing the right thing. Some resist authority and rebel which is a natural human thing. Some people are hurt and want to be understood because they don’t feel understood. Some want attention because they feel ignored. Every person on some level wants to be heard. They want others to acknowledge their existence and their thoughts. Feeling so desperate that you feel worthless can make you do really crazy things, including taking your own life.
Q: What has touched you most in your life?
Skylar: Things that entice deep emotions. Things that that make me extremely happy or sad or passionate about something I want to change. But ultimately it’s whatever makes me think the most. Or something that makes me want to do something. If something really touches me, it makes me want to get up and create change.
Q: What is an example of this?
Skylar: Seeing when people aren’t treated right is a big one. It always makes me really upset. And seeing people who are suffering a lot always makes me feel very grateful for what I have. It makes me feel for them and it makes me want to help.
Q: As a younger teen you were given a unique opportunity. Tell us about the “Ask Skylar” show.
Skylar: It was really good for my confidence because I was only fourteen, and somewhat insecure, as most middle school children are. It made me feel good to do the show and know that people wanted my opinion. And the director Irene, the (the Dray) wanted my opinion. It was really good to learn to speak in front of a camera. It was really fun. If you mess up you can just start over. I like that it wasn’t scripted at all, mostly, except for the endings. The Dray was so fun and so open minded, not controlling, but in charge. She was the perfect balance of being in authority, but open to my opinions and who I wanted to be in the show. She didn’t force me to be someone I didn’t want to be. It was the very rare nice Hollywood. Sometimes Hollywood is about being fake and whatever you have to do to get attention. But working with Irene was the opposite of that.
Q: Tell us about your experience with Mother Miracle.
Skylar: A lot of kids, especially in America, don’t really know the hardships of kids in other parts of the world. We’ll complain about school and how we hate it. We kind of take it for granted. There are kids who can’t go to school and they must feel so stuck in this chain of poverty. If you don’t have education it’s really hard to get a way out. I think that helping Mother Miracle school is really great. Not only does it give you a perspective about your education, it gives you a perspective about your whole life. You see videos of these kids, some of them literally live in cardboard boxes. It makes you feel pretty silly for most of what you complain about. It makes me want to help for sure. And it’s not difficult. You just give a little money and you change a life. It’s a small price to pay to change a life. It you are lucky enough to have a little extra, give a little. It feels pretty good.
I met Shahla, the founder, when I was young. I was so amazed by what she had done. She basically gave up all of her belongings and dedicated her life to helping people. It’s a very saintlike, selfless thing to do, to give up your whole life and help those less fortunate than you. If there were more people like her in the world, the world would be such a different place. I admire her a lot. It’s one thing to put in the effort to help. It’s another thing to sacrifice so much. It’s a different level of giving. What she is doing is true sacrifice beyond what I can imagine.
Q: Who are the people in your life who have helped shape who you are?
Skylar: My family, all of the people I have loved, all of the people who have hurt me. Anyone who has made me ask questions basically. Questioning shows that you are attempting to understand. It shows effort, and it shows being creative. Anyone who has made me question anything, whether it be myself or the sanity of the word, has shaped me, because questioning creates more growth than anything else I know of.
Q: What are your goals?
Skylar: I have steady moral and big picture goals, but I don’t have specific career goals yet. I’d love to be a psychologist because I think I would be able to help a lot of people and get to know my species better. How many other species can understand themselves and understand their own consciousness? That’s why psychology is so popular. Its the study of what separates us from all other species that we know of — consciousness of ourselves and our minds.