More than two years after Skylar Grey turned heads with her Grammy performance alongside Eminem and Dr. Dre on "I Need a Doctor," the singer will finally release her debut album, Don't Look Down, on July 9th.
Grey has been anxious to share the album, executive produced by Eminem, since she unveiled the lead single, "C'mon, Let Me Ride," earlier this year. "I just wanted to get music out so that I could start playing shows and promoting the album," Grey tells Rolling Stone.
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Though the album won't be out for a few months, she will get to share more music leading up to the release. "I believe in hearing more than one song, because there are so many different sides to the album," she says. "So we came up with a plan, which is putting the album out July 9th, but before that putting out four singles where I do a little video for each one, just to get a lot of music out there."
The first track, "Final Warning," will be available April 16th. It's her favorite song on the album.
"This is the first time in my entire life of making music, when I made this song, where I feel like I finally figured out the way that I wanted to sound and the combination of things," she says. "I wrote the song three years ago, and it's still my favorite. I've written so many songs since then, yet I always go back to this one. It got me going on the whole Skylar Grey project."
Among the other upcoming tracks is "White Suburban," a piano and vocal track. While that might surprise some who only know her work in the hip-hop world, Grey has eclectic roots. She says her first concert was Alison Krauss and cites Bon Iver as the most recent show that blew her away.
"I come from a singer-songwriter world," she says. "I grew up making folk music, then slowly worked into pop, and then I've done the hip-hop stuff. So now what I'm doing is a combination of all that," she says. "It's singer-songwriter mixed with the hip-hop influences."
Though she expects additional features besides Eminem, who appears on "C'mon, Let Me Ride," the album won't be a star-studded collection. "I don't like to clutter my solo album with other people," she says. "I collaborate a lot outside of my album."
For instance, she appears on the song "Love Bullets" on the forthcoming will.i.am solo set, #willpower. While the two first met at a Grammy party celebrating Jimmy Iovine in February of last year, Grey only recently found out the song made the final cut.
"I went to the studio, and he just put up a track and I wrote something to it. It was the day that Whitney Houston died, and we got the news while we were in the studio together. So that was weird, and then basically I never heard anything after that about our song," she says. "A year later someone at the international department of Universal was like, 'Oh, I heard the song you did with Will for his album – it's awesome.' I didn't even hear it until two weeks ago when they sent it to me. Basically he took the vocal I did that day and he made a whole different track around it. It's really cool – it's more mid-tempo, not what I was expecting."
Grey will be hitting a record store on April 23rd to buy #willpower as part of a long-standing tradition she has to buy any albums featuring her work the day the record is released. And while she definitely plans to buy Don't Look Down July 9th, she has other plans in mind as well.
"It's my best friend's birthday, so ideally I'd be with her, and we'd be getting wasted and maybe we'd be setting off fireworks on the beach in Hawaii," she says. "I don't even want to be playing the music. I just want to be celebrating the fact that I pushed this baby out. "