Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) audiences regularly see the serious side of conductor Leonard Slatkin, but…
Social-media star Daniel Skye talks music, his fans and tefillin
Daniel Skye is the real deal.
The 17-year-old social-media star plays guitar and piano, writes music and lyrics, and, of course, sings in a voice that sounds like liquid gold to his legions of fans.
Skye was focusing on his bar mitzvah Torah chanting when guests began raving that he had talents good enough for performances in front of larger and more diverse audiences.
Skye took those remarks seriously and began experimenting, soon adding a guitar to accompany his singing.
“I went home and started messing around with it and really started liking it,” says Skye, who will appear July 1 at the Shelter in Detroit. “I opened an Instagram account when Instagram was just coming out. I would do 15-second covers, playing the top songs on the internet.”
Unofficial videos of a 13-year-old Skye strumming his acoustic guitar show him singing songs like the Rihanna/Eminem duet “Monsters,” Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.”
“People just started commenting on it and sharing it with their friends. It just went from there.”
From there meant writing songs, performing them online — then signing a contract with RCA Records at the end of 2016, all within three years.
In a music landscape taken over by auto-tune, often in place of skill, Skye can belt them out — plus he’s got the charisma and high-energy moves in concert that set the crowd screaming. He has logged 28 million streams on Spotify and more than 19 million streams on YouTube. He has more than 5 million followers combined on his social platforms; that includes 2.5 million on Instagram, 1.89 million on musical.ly, 675, 000 through Twitter, 339,000 through YouTube/Vevo subscribers and 298,000 with Facebook friends.
Skye released his first original song, “Maybe,” in 2014, and it gained the early interest of RCA by appearing on the iTunes chart. His second original song, “LoveSick Day,” charted at 86 on the iTunes Pop charts. In 2015, he released “All I Want” featuring Cameron Dallas, and the song debuted on iHeart, climbing the iTunes Pop charts to 12 in the United States and in the top five in international territories.
His next song, “We Got Us,” was dedicated to his fans and inspired thousands of collaborative fan-made videos.
Skye’s release “Smile,” in 2016, was licensed to a nationwide commercial. https://youtu.be/f_pVeee0OOg “Good As It Gets” came out as he signed with RCA records — and it earned a shout- out from Justin Bieber, who Tweeted, “This is a [sic] awesome song.” In 2017, he released “On.”
“I love my fans so much,” Skye says. “The only reason I can do this is because of all the support.”
Skye has been touring since he was 13, sometimes going to as many as 20 cities in a row. When he appears in Detroit, fresh off a tour with Bebe Rexha, he will be introducing his latest song, “Feeling You.” A DJ will play tracks while Skye brings in his guitar to add to the vocals.
“I’m super excited to be performing this song for the first time because it’s coming out just about now,” Skye says. “It will be awesome for my fans to hear it.
“‘Feeling You’ is about a girl you really like. You’re feeling a good vibe. The music has what I think of as a summer sound. I’m establishing my sound now to give a clearer idea of pop with an urban vibe. I’m still developing my sound because I’m in the early stages of my career.” He does, however, cite Bruno Mars, the Weeknd and hip-hop as influences.
Skye, who doesn’t have a girlfriend, has a performance goal.
“I like to make my shows directed at each person,” he says. “That’s how I like to think about it.”
Skye grew up in Florida, where his dad practices law and his mom has operated a doily business. As fan attention escalated, it was decided to let him move to California.
Skye now has a house and studio in Los Angeles. He lives with a 20-something guardian, who also goes on tour and was recommended by Skye’s manager. Mornings are set aside for homeschooling with a tutor, providing instruction in required high-school subjects and preparing him for SAT exams.
“I’m going on to college, but I haven’t decided what I’ll be taking up,” he says.
Now that Skye is getting high-power recording connections, he works with a group to develop songs.
“Most of the time, I meet up with producers and writers in the city or in my studio at the back of my house,” the singer-songwriter says. “We sit together and sort through ideas of what the concept is in what we’re writing about.
“Then, we go on to choose a track or solo from guitar with piano. We write melodies and lyrics to it. I take my versions from what happens in my life or my friends’ lives and just write.
“Sometimes I work with a team of one or two people, and sometimes, I work with more than that.”
Skye’s commitment to Judaism continues with Shabbat dinners and putting on tefillin every day. For fun, he likes to hang out with friends and hike in the mountains.
“Working hard” is his advice to other kids wanting music opportunities.
“Stay focused on your goal,” says Skye, who has a vocal coach and took guitar lessons for a year. “It takes a lot of patience to get where you want to be.”
Daniel Skye will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 1, at the Shelter in Detroit. $12-$15.