Not to be confused with pop figure Holly Brook whose stage name is Skylar Grey (notice the spelling difference?), multi-instrumentalist Skylar Gray, as named at birth in 1982, recently released his debut album "An Inch Equals 200 Miles." This concept album featuring themes of alien abduction, imperial conquest, genocide, and other familiar sci-fi topics was created from start to finish with DIY (do-it-yourself) techniques and equipment.
For nearly six years, Gray has taken the writing, recording, and now distribution/promotion of his first solo album into his own hands. Having spent years behind the scenes producing and mixing other bands as well as designing professional and consumer audio goods, Gray was well prepared to undertake the task of playing the majority of the instruments on his album while also performing the role of producer. A recording engineer and designer, he has taken the process a step further by hand-building the microphones, cables, amplifiers, and most other equipment used in the making of his "An Inch Equals 200 Miles." Furthermore, he was even intimately involved in developing the software used to record the album on his computer. As Gray explains it, “I think in order for an artist to see their vision truly come to fruition, they need to have very explicit control over the tools used to create the work at each stage.”
Coming from a musical family, Gray’s influences mix classic progressive rock (ELO, 10cc, etc.) with the sounds he attached himself to as an adolescent (Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, STP.) These influences shine in Gray’s album—from the 70’s theatricality of the album-wide concept to the moody chord progressions and instrumentations. Thoughtful lyrics compliment the arrangements and tell a spacey, expansive story. “I’ve always had an attraction to science fiction films and related mythology. Because that seems to capture my imagination more than other things, it was just natural content for the album.” says Gray. The remoteness of space, as told by Gray, is something mystic—an escape from the noise and overbearing crush of modern life. Each song flows seamlessly into the next, displacing the listener into the hands of a skilled musician with a vivid sonic story to tell. "An Inch..." is as much an instrumental soundtrack as it is a rock album. It plays like a rock opera and is an example of indie music’s rediscovery of the long-form concept album.
Complementing the work is cover art by famed Australian artist Jeremy Geddes, whose “Cosmonaut” series served as inspiration to Gray in the late stages of the album’s development. Gray adds, “There’s an unmistakable mood in Geddes’ piece which remarkably matched the mood I intended to create with 'An Inch...' So as soon as I saw the Cosmonaut, I knew that no other artwork would be adequate.”
Get "An Inch Equals 200 Miles," featuring drummer Colby Owens (Other Lives) and Colin Fleishacker (Colourmusic), now on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other online music services. Starting July 1st, pick up the Limited edition 12 inch vinyl featuring cover art by Jeremy Geddes at www.skylargray.com.
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