Holly Brook Hafermann (born February 23, 1986), better known by her stage name Skylar Grey, is an American recording artist from Mazomanie, Wisconsin. Grey, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, was initially signed to Machine Shop Recordings, under the name Holly Brook, where she released her debut album Like Blood Like Honey, in 2006. In 2010, she co-wrote the three versions of "Love the Way You Lie" (for Eminem and Rihanna) with Alex da Kid, who signed her to his KIDinaKORNER record label. Grey has also been featured as a guest vocalist on several hit singles, including Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go", Diddy-Dirty Money's "Coming Home", Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor", Lupe Fiasco's "Words I Never Said" and Kaskade's "Room for Happiness". Her major-label debut studio album Don't Look Down, was released on July 9, 2013.
Life and career:
2001-05: Early life and career beginnings:
Grey performed professionally as a child in a folk duo with her mother called Generations. Together, (with producer/engineer Randy Green) they independently produced three albums, Dream Maker, Lift Me, and Millennial Child/Waiting For You. Grey started her first band at the age of fifteen after 'sneaking' into bars, working with jazz musicians including Jeff Eckles, Tim Whalen and Leo Sidran in Madison, Wisconsin.
In 2003, Grey moved to Los Angeles and recorded a demo as Holly Brook, which would be her stage name for several years. This demo led to her being signed in the fall of 2004 by Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson to the band's vanity label, Machine Shop Recordings, at the age of 18.
2006-10: Like Blood Like Honey and O'Dark:Thirty EP:
Her voice is featured on the Fort Minor songs "Where'd You Go" and "Be Somebody". Working with producer Jonathan Ingoldsby, Brook released her debut album, Like Blood Like Honey, on June 6, 2006. She landed opening spots for tours with Jamie Cullum, k.d. lang, Daniel Powter, Teddy Geiger and Duncan Sheik.
From her appearance on Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go" through 2009, Holly Brook was closely affiliated with Linkin Park affiliates Styles of Beyond and Apathy. She is featured on two tracks, "Victim" and "No Sad Tomorrow" off of Apathy's second Release Wanna Snuggle.
In 2010, Brook lent both her song "It's Raining Again" and her image to a promotional campaign for Ciao Water. Prior to this, she has appeared on albums by other artists, including Brie Larson's Finally Out of P.E. and Fort Minor's The Rising Tied. Brook has toured as part of Duncan Sheik's band, and contributed substantially to his 2009 album Whisper House. At the beginning of 2010 she performed in the theatrical version of "Whisper House," playing one of the two lead ghost vocalists along with David Poe. Also in 2010, she self-released the seven-song O'Dark:Thirty EP, produced by Duncan Sheik and Jon Ingoldsby. In 2009, Brook appeared as a backing vocalist on Eurovision contestant Yohanna's debut album, Butterflies and Elvis.
2010-present: Name change, new direction and Don't Look Down:
Brook later changed her name to Skylar Grey. She explained that "it represents the unknowns in life. People seem to be afraid of the unknowns, but I'm the complete opposite. I dive into the unknown because I feel like that's where all your possibilities come from." She explained to Beatweek that she chose "grey" with an e rather than an a because "I like to do things the original way" and because "it's more masculine. I'm not a very feminine person."
Brook was still living in Oregon and had no recognition as Skylar Grey. Grey went to New York to meet her publisher Jennifer Blakeman, to seek help presenting her work. Blakeman had suggested that she work with Alex da Kid. Grey contacted Alex da Kid via e-mail. Alex da Kid sent Grey a few tracks that he had been working on. The first song Grey wrote was "Love The Way You Lie". Grey's song "Love the Way You Lie" was given to Eminem and Rihanna. Their version became a worldwide hit reaching number one on 26 charts and being nominated for four Grammy Awards including Song of the Year.
Alex da Kid signed her to a production deal on his KIDinaKORNER imprint. She wrote the hook to all three versions of "Love the Way You Lie" by rapper Eminem and Rihanna. Grey earned a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year for her writing contributions to "Love the Way You Lie". She also co-wrote Diddy-Dirty Money's "Coming Home", along with "Castle Walls" by T.I. and Christina Aguilera. On March 10, 2011, Diddy-Dirty Money performed the single "Coming Home" with Grey and Dirty Money vocalists, Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper, live on American Idol.
She is also a writer and featured guest on "I Need a Doctor". Grey is also featured on Lupe Fiasco's third studio album Lasers, on the second single, "Words I Never Said" and was also featured in the live performance of the song, with Lupe, on The Colbert Report on May 9, 2011. Grey made her live performance debut under her new alias during the 53rd Grammy Awards, performing "I Need a Doctor" alongside Eminem and Dr. Dre. She is currently working on her solo studio album Don't Look Down with Alex Da Kid. She has signed to Interscope Records through Da Kid's KIDinaKORNER, and her first promotional buzz single "Dance Without You" was released on June 6, 2011, with the official music video being released on July 5. "Dance Without You" was featured in the 2012 film Step Up Revolution. The first official single, "Invisible", was released to radio on June 16, but it was confirmed over Twitter that the single would not appear on her upcoming album. She has worked with vocal producer Heather Holley. On July 9, 2011, Grey performed live at the World Peace Event in Washington, DC, appearing along with the 14th Dalai Lama. On 6 August, she performed at the 20th Lollapalooza festival as both a solo artist and with Eminem during the song "I Need A Doctor". The next day, while passing by the area where YouTube sensation Karmin was recording their cover of "I Need A Doctor," Grey joined the duo for an impromptu performance. She performed alongside rapper Eli Porter on the September 20, 2011 episode of Tosh.0.
Grey also featured on Kaskade's 2011 album Fire & Ice, writing and singing on two versions of the song "Room for Happiness", which became the album's third single and earned her another Grammy nomination.
On April 1, 2012, Grey performed with Machine Gun Kelly on his song "Invincible" at WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII prior to John Cena making his entrance. 78,363 fans attended the event.
It was also reported that, along with appearing twice as a guest artist on Slaughterhouse's upcoming album Welcome to: Our House, Grey would also be contributing to The Band Perry's second album, which is set to be released in April 2013 and "Building a Monster", a song from her upcoming CD was featured on the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.
Grey features on two songs from Slaughterhouse's major label debut album Welcome to: Our House ("Our House," which also features Eminem, and "Rescue Me"), along with co-writing Zedd's 2012 single "Clarity" (which won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2014) and Cee Lo Green's 2013 single "Only You". Grey released her first official single, "C'mon Let Me Ride", which features Eminem and will appear on her album, both to radio and as a lyric video on November 27.
On March 8, 2013, Grey performed a six song set for "Guitar Center Sessions" on DirecTV. The episode also included an interview with Grey by the host of the program, Nic Harcourt.
Grey also contributed an exclusive song "Slowly Freaking Out" to the soundtrack album for the film The Host, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer, and also contributed to will.i.am's solo album #willpower on the song "Love Bullets".
On April 7, 2013, for the second consecutive year Grey performed at WWE Wrestlemania, this time in front of 80,676 fans. She performed with Sean "Diddy" Combs on his song "Coming Home" which Grey had been featured on in the album version, performing the chorus. "Coming Home" was one of the official theme songs of Wrestlemania XXIX.
In September 2013, Grey appeared on the track "The Last Day" on Moby's album Innocents and also released her own cover of Daft Punk's song "Get Lucky", along with being featured on Eminem's eighth studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, on the track "Asshole". The album was released on November 5, 2013. Grey also previewed a new cover of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" in a trailer for the 2014 remake of Endless Love, with the full version being released to her YouTube on February 7, 2014.
On January 20, 2014, Grey released "Shot Me Down" with David Guetta, a cover of Cher's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)". The song was successful charting in the top ten in several countries. March 11, 2014 also saw the release of a new collaboration with Kid Cudi, "Hero", recorded for the Need for Speed film and released on the film's official soundtrack.
Grey has listed Garbage, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, Eminem and Death Cab for Cutie as her influences.