You’ve heard Skylar Grey’s vocals on countless chart-toppers, including Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go," Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor," Nicki Minaj's "Bed of Lies," and Macklemore's "Glorious." Or, you've appreciated her songwriting through countless hits, including Eminem and Rihanna’s "Love the Way You Lie,” (and soon to be released, a song for Celine Dion.)
You've seen Margot Robbie kick ass to Skylar Grey's contributions to the Suicide Squad soundtrack (Kehlani’s “Gangsta,” which she co-wrote, and her single “Wreak Havoc.") Or, if you didn't watch Fifty Shades of Grey for just the sex scenes, you heard Grey's "I Know You" once the credits rolled.
While known for writing some of new-age hip-hop’s biggest hits, Skylar Grey is returning to her Wisconsin roots with her latest project, Angel With Tattoos. Echoing Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, the EP comes with the tattooed-edge only an angel with ink can bring. Growing up with a folk-musician mother and a father in a barbershop quartet, Angel With Tattoos features a ‘70s vibe as an ode to the diverse music of her childhood, while seamlessly bridging the generational gap, with hints of Sheryl Crow and KT Tunstall shining through.
Skylar Grey tells INKED that 'Angel With Tattoos' is inspired by love.
“It’s to help the world believe in love and fairytale romance again,” she adds. “In this day and age, it’s almost expected to have a fucked up relationship, but I don’t want people to forget that true love and happiness really do exist.”
Her fiancé Elliott Taylor coined the nickname “angel with tattoos” for Grey, to capture her duality as a sweet girl with a rebellious edge.
“Along with loving the art and commitment that goes into tattoos, I actually got them partially because I am a sensitive person, and I felt having tattoos would make me tougher and people would not want to push me around anymore,” Grey says. “I wanted to feel a little bit intimidating on purpose.”
This, she mentions, has come around in an unexpected way, as the single “Angel With Tattoos” tells the story of wanting to be accepted into her partner’s family, but feeling judged because of her body art. She admits the story of this single was factually based with her fiancé's family.
“Sometimes people think you’re a bad person when they see your tattoos. That’s why Elliot came up with the phrase, because he knows the real me. He knows I’m a good person, I’m honest and loyal, and would do anything for him,” she says. “People can be very judgmental towards tattoos.
This, she highlights, is the second mission of her album.
“I also want to get that message to listeners through this album," Grey adds. "Judging people based off stereotypes doesn’t mean you’re seeing the real person.”
Alongside this latest EP, Grey has a song coming out in November with Train called “Mai Tais.”
Check out her newest music video for "Angel With Tattoos" below!
Skylar Grey gives INKED a tour of her tattoos, as well as which tattoo most encompasses her newest album, 'Angel With Tattoos.'
Skylar Grey’s first tattoo was the Pisces symbol on the back of her neck. “I got it backstage at a Lincoln Park concert when I was 18,” Grey tells INKED. “And then I was addicted from there, so I kept adding on.”
The two crossed hatchets, representing Grey's time spent living in the woods and learning to survive on her own, has also been used as the design of her logo.
Skylar Grey’s “Woodrat” tattoo, done by Mister Cartoon, also honors the woods, where she gained a perspective on life. This isolation in nature also catapulted Grey’s career, writing Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie.”
Grey’s forrest-scene back tattoo, inked by Mister Cartoon, includes storm clouds and lightning bolts to represent her struggles, and cabin to symbolize her shelter in the storm.
Her tattoo on her right bicep is of her home state of Wisconsin. The blue tattoo has since been surrounded by a grayscale sleeve. While it is the only colored tattoo on that arm, Grey adds she may just cover the blue ink with black.
Artist Tye Harris created Skylar Grey’s woodland-themed sleeve, including a jackalope, snake, bear and eagle with mountains, and a wolf, with the quote: “The journey is the reward.”
Her most recent tattoo is a sheep portrait of one of her baby sheep who she was bottle-feeding three times a day. Fiancé and singer/songwriter Elliott Taylor lives with Grey on a ranch, where they recently lost seven sheep this year from mountain lions. Not knowing how to emotionally handle the situation, Skylar took to the tattoo needle to honor them.
Grey adds that her sleeve encompasses and best illustrates her latest release, Angel With Tattoos.
Skylar Grey has an Albert Einstein quote tattooed on her left forearm which says: “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” This piece helps her think creatively and outside the box.
The Deathly Hallows tattoo on her forearm might be removed, as Grey says it wasn’t done well. She adds, laughing, “I got drunk in Vegas.”
The rose on the back of Grey's hand was done by Tye Harris and balances her feminine and masculine side.
She also sports “GREY” tattooed on her knuckles, which was also done by Mister Cartoon. Her stage name represents the unknown possibilities in life.
The owl piece, done by Joshua Lord, was Grey's second tattoo. The owl imagery fits her, as Pisces are known for being wise, alongside musical and creative. “I love the idea that owls are the birds of the night,” she adds.
Her thigh piece, also inked by Josh Lord, was based on art nouveau illustrator Aubrey Beardsley’s 1893 drawing, “The Peacock Skirt.” Lord added his own take to the design, to best capture Grey and her vision.
Lastly, Grey has "Save the whales" in Japanese on her foot.