New York Vs. The World!
A lot of musicians today use the voice they’ve obtained from fame to talk about money, sex, and drugs all in a braggadocios tone. Not many of them use their voice to share their story and inspire the youth. Enter Skizzy Mars. Myles Mills, better known as Skizzy Mars, is a musician hailing from Harlem, New York. Mars takes a different route with his music choosing to use his voice and fame to be the self-proclaimed voice of the youth. Opening up his world to us, the rapper shares his experiences, lessons learned, and advice all through his music in hopes of using music to inspire, save, and overall help others the way music did for him. Skizzy Mars doesn’t conform to the masses. His music may be different than what’s seen as “popular” today, but it’s sure a breath of fresh air in a music market where a lot of “real talk” is avoided because it’s not what sells. Don’t get me wrong, Skizzy still loves to have fun with his music, and he does make those braggadocios songs occasionally. In the last few years, Mars has dropped an EP titled Are You OK? and his third studio album Free Skizzy Mars. The musician takes these projects as an opportunity to discuss his run-in with drugs, experiences with love, and his spirituality. I recently spoke with Skizzy Mars about his sound, creative process, inspiration and influences, how New York has played a role in his life, his goals with fame and music, and more. Check out the conversation below!
Chandy: Can you give us an inside look into you? Name, age, who you are, and what you do?
Skizzy Mars: My name is Skizzy Mars, I’m 26 years old, and I’m an artist and creative from Manhattan, New York City.
Chandy: How have you been during the Coronavirus? What’ve you been doing to keep busy?
Skizzy Mars: I’ve been checking in with my family more than ever. That’s definitely been one of the silver linings of this whole experience. Before this, I wasn’t calling Grandma enough. Right now, my Mom, Dad, Sister, and I are tighter than ever. I just moved into a new spot in Los Angeles a week before this, so I’ve been going on walks and exploring the neighborhood. My brother and the GOAT producer Michael Keenan lives in the same neighborhood, so we’ve been continuing the recording process.
Chandy: Has the virus affected your ability to create at all?
Skizzy Mars: Nah, actually, I’m as inspired as ever. Once I lock in on what I want to talk about, the songs just sort of write themselves. I never looked at myself as an MC, but rather someone that just tells my story over beats. Everything I talk about in my music is pure facts and always will be. Especially this new material. I can’t record as much as I’d like to, but I’m still working.
Chandy: I know you’re a big sports guy. Do you miss sports right now? How’re you filling that void?
Skizzy Mars: I miss sports so fucking much. Football hasn’t been affected yet, but I’m also a big NBA, MLB, and soccer guy, so it’s rough. My Knicks were trash, so I’m not missing much on that front, but I was looking forward to the playoffs. The Jordan doc has helped, and I’ve been watching old 90s games on YouTube. I’m also happy UFC is back.
Chandy: What’re your favorite sports video games?
Skizzy Mars: Usually 2K, but I’ve been heavy on FIFA recently. I’ve been fucking the homies up online. I also like MLB The Show.
Chandy: Your musical style is a blend of genres. Every album, we hear something different from you. What inspires your sound? Is it just the things you’re going through in your life at the time of creating?
Skizzy Mars: I grew up in unique environments. I think every artist’s sound is an amalgamation of what they grew up on. I lived in Harlem and had an older sister in the early 2000s that played a lot of rap and R&B. I went to school on the Upper East Side and had friends that put me on to a lot of rock, alternative, and folk. To this day, one of my passions is finding new artists that haven’t really broken out yet, and I spend a considerable amount of time doing that shit. That might be a bedroom pop kid from the midwest or a rapper from the south or a pop singer from New York. I’m all over the place, and that goes for what I do too. If I’m in New York, I might eat a chopped cheese from the deli for lunch and then go downtown to Gramercy and get some sushi at “Yama” for dinner. So, I’m always going to be all over the place sonically just because my interests are all over the place. I really just make what I’m feeling at that given moment in my life, but I think over the years, there has been some consistency sonically in what I make when I’m working with Michael Keenan.
Chandy: Your style is unique. It’s much different than what’s seen as “popular” today. A lot of rappers when they get bigger, they tend to switch up their style to conform to the masses. However, you’ve never strayed away from making music your way. Can you speak a little about that?
Skizzy Mars: Yeah, I just don’t really care about fame. I try to stay in touch with the feeling I felt when Man On The Moon or Graduation dropped. It didn’t feel like those albums were trying to appeal to the masses. They did, which is great, but it felt like artists telling their stories and pushing boundaries, blending genres, doing whatever the fuck they wanted to do. Being themselves. I try to stay in touch with the feeling of dropping music on Soundcloud in 2011 for fun when I still planned on being a sports journalist. I never really planned on doing this as a career, so I try to maintain a high level of gratitude for the simple fact that I’ve been doing this shit for 9 years, and I’m still here. I get to tour and make a good living off of music, but most importantly, I get to help people with my music. So many kids have told me I’ve changed their lives, so why would I change? I couldn’t sleep well at night if I conformed, for lack of a better word. Free Skizzy Mars was cool and necessary because I blended the classic Skiz sound with a more accessible sound, but even that didn’t feel all the way me to be honest. So now I’m back to basics, and it feels amazing, and the music sounds 100% Skiz. The thing with trends and chasing a moment is, moments pass, and new trends come. Nobody could ever be Skizzy better than me, though.
Chandy: What’s your creative process like? Do you write first? Or do you like to hear a beat and then write?
Skizzy Mars: I’m always writing. An artist told me years ago that as creatives, we’re always getting inspired by whatever we consume, whether it’s TV, movies, other music, theater, etc. I’m a fiend for inspiration, and I’m always writing down lines, concepts, and ideas as they come. I rarely write a full song unless I’m in the studio, though. I also don’t think I’ve ever recorded a song over a fully fleshed out beat. I have to be in the studio with the producer and start from scratch with them. We usually go back and forth – I’ll record over some chords, then we add the drums and so on. I find that if a beat already has drums, they’ll lock me into a specific flow and cadence. My creativity thrives from openness and a lack of restriction.
Chandy: What’re some things you need around you when creating?
Skizzy Mars: Nothing, really. My phone, I guess. I used to rely on drugs for creativity, but now I find that shit within.
Chandy: How has being from New York influenced you and inspired you?
Skizzy Mars: It’s everything. The way I grew up, the things we did, and the places we went shaped the way I view the world. The thing with New York is that people that aren’t from there don’t realize that there are several New Yorks within New York. Like I’ve been to Queens maybe 3 times in my life. But being from Manhattan and spending my youth exploring that borough cultivated my sound no doubt.
Chandy: Your last album Free Skizzy Mars gave us an inside look into you and your world in a way you’ve never really done before. It gave all of us a way to understand you much better. What gave you the confidence to open up that way?
Skizzy Mars: I have to. For me, music is therapy. I’m a quiet person, introverted. I express myself through my music. Whatever I’m going through at that point in my life, you’re going to hear it in the songs. I think that’s why I have such a tight relationship with my fanbase. Honesty.
Chandy: What do you hope people take away from your music when they listen to it?
Skizzy Mars: I just hope it can help people. I hope it can age well, and they can come back to it and remember the time in their lives when it came out fondly. I hope it can be the soundtrack to beautiful moments in peoples’ lives.
Chandy: When all is said and done, how do you want to leave your mark?
Skizzy Mars: I want to make high-quality music for a long time, continue to improve, and give opportunities and advice to newer artists that come around. Then I want to transition into signing talented artists.
Chandy: What’s something you want your fans to know about you that they can’t get from your music?
Skizzy Mars: A lot of my fans say I’m underrated, which comes from a place of love. But I don’t see the world through any rating system. I make music for them, and they’ve blessed me with their time and ears, so I’m content with that. That’s all that really matters.
Chandy: I’m pretty sure all the fans want to know the answer to this. Can we be expecting another album or more singles coming soon?
Skizzy Mars: I’ve been working hard on a new piece of work, and I’m loving how it’s sounding. I’m very, very hyped to share these songs.
Check out Skizzy Mars‘ music below!