Holly Brook Hafermann (born February 23, 1986), who goes by the stage name Skylar Grey, is an American singer and songwriter from Mazomanie, Wisconsin. In 2004, under the moniker Holly Brook, at the age of 17, she signed a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group and a recording contract with Linkin Park's Warner Bros. Records' label imprint, Machine Shop Recordings. She would later release her debut album, Like Blood Like Honey, under the labels in 2006.
In 2010, she co-wrote Eminem and Rihanna's hit single "Love the Way You Lie" alongside British record producer Alex da Kid, who subsequently signed her to his label imprint, KIDinaKORNER. Grey is perhaps best known as a guest vocalist on several hit singles, including Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go", Diddy's "Coming Home", Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor" and T.I.'s "New National Anthem". Grey's second album, Don't Look Down, was released in July 2013. The album was preceded by four singles: "C'mon Let Me Ride" (featuring Eminem), "Final Warning", "Wear Me Out" and "White Suburban".
Life and career:
1994-2004: Early life and career beginnings:
As a child, Grey performed professionally in a folk duo with her mother, called Generations. Together, with producer and 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 15, after 'sneaking' into bars and working with jazz musicians Jeff Eckles, Tim Whalen and Leo Sidran in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2003, Grey moved to Los Angeles and recorded a demo under the alias 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.
2005-10: Like Blood Like Honey:
Grey co-wrote "Done Like Me" and "She Said", alongside Jon Ingoldsby and American actress Brie Larson, for Larson's first and only album, Finally Out of P.E. (2005). In 2005, Grey was featured on American hip hop group Fort Minor's songs, "Where'd You Go" and "Be Somebody". "Where'd You Go" was released as a single on April 14, 2006, with an accompanying music video following soon after. The song gained commercial success and ended up becoming a top four hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and also became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). After working with music producer Jonathan Ingoldsby, Grey released her debut album, titled Like Blood Like Honey, on June 6, 2006, under Warner Bros. Records. The album peaked at number 35 on Billboard 's Heatseekers Albums chart. During this time, Grey had landed opening spots for concert tours with Jamie Cullum, k.d. lang, Daniel Powter, Teddy Geiger and Duncan Sheik.
Through her connections from Machine Shop Records, Grey became closely affiliated with Linkin Park affiliates Styles of Beyond and Apathy. She was even featured on two tracks titled "Victim" and "No Sad Tomorrow", from Apathy's second studio album, Wanna Snuggle? (2009). Grey toured as part of Duncan Sheik's band and contributed substantially to his 2009 album, Whisper House. In 2009, Grey appeared as a backing vocalist on Eurovision contestant Yohanna's debut album, Butterflies and Elvis. In August 2009, still under the alias Holly Brook, she lent both her song "It's Raining Again" and her image to a promotional campaign for Ciao Water. In early 2010, she performed in the theatrical version of "Whisper House," playing one of the two lead ghost vocalists, along with David Poe. On June 10, 2010, she self-released the seven-song extended play (EP), O'Dark:Thirty. Production of the EP was handled by Duncan Sheik and Jon Ingoldsby.
2010-11: New direction and name change:
Brook later changed her stage name to Skylar Grey. She 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 English musician and record producer 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 American rapper Eminem and Barbadian singer Rihanna. Their version became a worldwide hit, reaching number one on 26 charts and being nominated for four Grammy Awards. Grey earned a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year, for her writing contributions to "Love the Way You Lie". Grey wrote the hook to all three versions of "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem and Rihanna, and even recorded a solo version that was later featured on her fourth EP, The Buried Sessions of Skylar Grey (2012).
Alex da Kid went on to sign Skylar Grey to a production deal on his KIDinaKORNER record label imprint. In 2010, Grey also co-wrote and was featured on Diddy - Dirty Money's single "Coming Home", which gained massive commercial success. Also in 2010, Grey co-wrote "Castle Walls" by American rapper T.I. and American pop singer Christina Aguilera.
On February 1, 2011, American rapper and renowned hip hop producer Dr. Dre released a song titled "I Need a Doctor", featuring Grey and Eminem. "I Need a Doctor" managed to peak at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and was certified double platinum by the RIAA. Grey made her national television debut under her new alias during the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, where she performed "I Need a Doctor", alongside Eminem and Dr. Dre. During this time, Grey announced she began working on her album then-titled Invinsible. In March 2011, it was revealed Grey signed to Interscope Records, through Alex da Kid's KIDinaKORNER and announced she would be releasing a single in the spring. On March 10, 2011, Diddy - Dirty Money performed "Coming Home", alongside Grey, live on American Idol. Later in 2011, Grey was featured on a song titled "Words I Never Said", the second single from Lupe Fiasco's Lasers (2011). Grey and Lupe Fiasco performed the song on The Colbert Report, on May 9, 2011.
Grey released her debut single, "Dance Without You", on June 6, 2011. The song later received a music video, which was released on July 5. "Dance Without You" was featured in the 2012 film Step Up Revolution. Grey's second single and formerly her second album's title-track, "Invisible", was released to radio on June 16. On July 9, 2011, Grey performed live at the World Peace Event in Washington, DC, appearing alongside the 14th Dalai Lama.
On August 6, 2011, she performed at the 20th annual 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. Grey also performed alongside aspiring rapper Eli Porter, on the September 20, 2011 episode of Tosh.0. In October 2011, Grey was featured on American DJ and music producer Kaskade's seventh 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.
2012-14: Don't Look Down and collaborations:
On April 1, 2012, Grey appeared alongside American rapper Machine Gun Kelly, for a performance of his single "Invincible", at WWE's Wrestlemania XXVIII event, prior to John Cena making his entrance. In August 2012, appeared twice as a guest vocalist on American hip hop supergroup Slaughterhouse's second album, Welcome to: Our House (2012). In September 2012, Grey's song "Building a Monster", was featured on the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.
In 2012, Grey co-wrote Russian-German electronic dance musician Zedd's 2012 single "Clarity", which won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2014. On October 31, 2012, Grey announced Eminem would executive produce her new album and revealed she had changed the title from Invinsible to Don't Look Down. On December 11, 2012, Grey released her album's lead single "C'mon Let Me Ride", which was produced by Alex da Kid and features Eminem, via digital distribution. The single was later serviced to radio on January 15, 2013.
In February 2013, American recording artist CeeLo Green, released a single titled "Only You", which he co-wrote alongside Skylar Grey. 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, titled "Slowly Freaking Out", to the soundtrack album for the film 2013 film The Host, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer, In April 2013, Grey contributed to will.i.am's fourth solo album #willpower, on the song "Love Bullets".
On April 7, 2013, for the second consecutive year, Grey appeared at WWE's Wrestlemania event, this time in front of 80,676 fans, where she performed "Coming Home", with Sean "Diddy" Combs. "Coming Home" was one of the official theme songs of Wrestlemania XXIX. On April 16, 2013, Grey released Don't Look Down 's second single, titled "Final Warning", via digital distribution. On June 4, 2014, Grey released "Wear Me Out", the album's third single. Grey's second album Don't Look Down., was released July 5, 2013. In its first week of release the album debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 24,000 copies in the United States.
In September 2013, Grey released a music video for her cover version of Daft Punk's hit single "Get Lucky". In October 2013, Grey appeared on the track "The Last Day" on Moby's eleventh album Innocents On October 17, 2013, Grey previewed a new cover of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" in a trailer for the 2014 remake of Endless Love. In November 2013, she appeared on Eminem's eighth studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, on a track titled "Asshole".
On January 20, 2014, Grey released a song titled "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. In March 2014, a new collaboration with American recording artist Kid Cudi, titled "Hero", was recorded for the Need for Speed film and released on the film's official soundtrack. In August 2014, Grey appeared on American rapper T.I.'s song "New National Anthem", from his ninth album, Paperwork. In November 2014, Grey featured on Shady XV, a compilation album performed by various artists of Shady Records, on "Twisted" alongside Eminem and Yelawolf. In 2014, Grey teamed with American rapper Nicki Minaj to co-write the song "Bed of Lies", from Minaj's third album, The Pinkprint. Grey sang on the recording and performed it alongside Minaj at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards and the December 6, 2014 episode of Saturday Night Live.
2015-present: Upcoming album:
Grey confirmed on her official Instagram account that her third studio album would be released in 2015. In February 2015, Grey released a song from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack called "I Know You". The song was acclaimed by music critics and also reached the top spot on iTunes of numerous countries. Also in February, Grey confirmed she has a song on the Furious 7 soundtrack, called "I Will Return". In March 2015, she released her version of "Addicted to Love" on iTunes, and also re-released the song "Words", which was deleted from the iTunes Store, in 2013. On March 29, 2015, Grey appeared at her third WrestleMania event, performing a medley of "Rise" and "Money and the Power", at the thirty-first annual event, alongside Travis Barker and Kid Ink.
Musical style and influences:
Grey has listed Shirley Manson of Garbage, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, Eminem and Death Cab for Cutie, as her influences.
Grey explained that she thought her stage name "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."
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license