What do you get when you mix a little pop, some R&B, and fresh melodies? West coast boy band, SKYLINE!
Vartan Antonyan, Ryan Bradley, Erick Uphoff, Crespatrick De Los Reyes, and Shad Sager make up this cool group from Cali who have been hitting the LA scene this year and working on their debut album. We caught up with the guys this summer as they dished about their musical inspirations, opening for Colby O’Donis, their first single "Not The Only One", and much more.
[L-R: Erick Uphoff, Ryan Bradley, Shad Sager, Vartan Antonyan, & Crespatrick De Los Reyes]
Hey, well first off how are you all doing?
We’re doing great!
Why don’t you guys start off by telling me a bit about yourselves and how you got together as a group.
Vartan: I have basically been in the audition circuit for awhile, always auditioning for a lot of groups. I was just never making it to that final round, you know. So, I put some ads up wanting to see who was around and some cat from Chicago writes to me, who happens to be Ryan, and he’s like ‘I’m coming down to town this weekend. I definitely want to meet up with you and see what’s going on’. We met and there was a great vibe became friends automatically and three months later he ended up moving to LA. Through friends we met Crespatrick and Erick, and we got together at like the Cheesecake Factory, had dinner – which was really cool. Then I was driving down Hollywood Blvd. thinking we need a fifth guy, somebody with just an amazing voice and I see Shad just walking down the street. I kind of knew him because we had done musical theatre together back in high school.
So, I roll my window down … mind you it’s a car window, not a roll down window. [Laughs] Then I yell out ‘Shad what’s going on its V. You want to be in a group?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah’. The next day we met up and it was just kind of like history.
Well, that’s good how it all worked out then, pieces just falling together perfectly.
Why the name Skyline? Who came up with it?
Ryan: What’s kind of funny is we all actually had a list of just different random names we were coming up with that could possibly be for the group. Ironically, Skyline just happened to be the only one that myself and C had both actually had without speaking prior to that. So, we kind of thought about that we’re like … ‘Skyline, hmm’. We all liked the name, figured you know what could that mean, so we put the meaning behind the name, and to us it just means the top. You know, ‘the top’, because when you look up you can’t see anything above the skyline. That’s the furthest point that you can reach or obtain, so to us that just means being superior, being on the top and that’s exactly where we believe that we’re headed … straight to the top.
Shad: To add to that it also worked out really interesting that we’re all from a different and unique skyline ourselves, in our hometowns and stuff.
Oh really, so you’re all from different places?
Shad: I’m from Seattle.
Erick: I’m originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Vartan: Born and raised in LA baby!
Ryan: As Vartan said earlier, I’m from Chicago.
Crespatrick: And I am from Washington, D.C.
You guys really are from all over.
Ryan: Oh yeah, everywhere. [Laughs]
Who would you say are some of your musical influences … either individually or as a group?
Crespatrick: Well, we have a lot of inspirations; it ranges from a lot of groups like Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson .. ‘N Sync. We even go back to further groups like Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Dion & The Belmonts; a lot of classic groups with a lot of harmony, old school harmonies – a lot of that. That’s where we get inspiration from.
Frankie Valli and the Four Season, that’s good. I grew up listening them, Michael Jackson, The Temptations too. But, Frankie Valli that’s pretty random, I don’t think I remember anyone mentioning them before.
Crespatrick: Well, I love Frankie Valli.
How would you describe the Skyline sound?
Erick: Our sound is pretty unique actually. We kind of add little flavors, because there are five of us and we each have a different background vocally. So, when we come together our sound doesn’t really fit into like Pop, R&B or anything like that. It’s kind of a melting pot of all these different sounds. We have a little bit of Rock, little of Pop, little Hip Hop, R&B … just kind of all put together. Even some musical theatre, so it’s kind of tough to put us in a label. We just like to make good music, it doesn’t really matter what our style is.
You know you bring up a good point, the melting pot I think goes for all music out right now. You can’t really classify anyone into one genre these days. But also, you’ve mentioned you get inspiration from groups like Boyz II Men. So, how do you feel about the term boy band?
Erick: I think ‘boy band’, is a term loosely used to generalize the ‘N Sync’s and Backstreet Boys that came out in 2000 era when Pop music really kind of made a huge stand. You know you had Britney Spears and all these people that were kind of in the limelight with this Pop music sound. I think ‘boy band’ was definitely something they did, I mean there were other boy bands like Boyz II Men and even The Beatles, before that The Monkees … just boys that got together. But, we kind of … I mean we kind of like the term ‘boy band’, we respect it; at the same time we’re more than that because we’re a group. We’re not just boys, we’re men – we can cross all genres and age groups. A lot of people think boy bands are … they put them in a pocket and say ‘okay, this is a boy band’, but we’re more than that.
I think, it’s cool we pay homage to it, but we’re definitely a little deeper than ‘boy band’.
Well you mention Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men, when they both came out they were well into their twenties … essentially a ‘man band’. Even ‘N Sync, most of them were older than the ‘boy bands’ that are out now. Plus, I’ve always looked at Backstreet Boys as more R&B then Pop music.
Vartan: Right. To me the ‘boy band’ thing is definitely a legendary term; it just signifies pandemonium and phenomenon to me, because every ‘boy band’ that has come out has influenced music so much. But, Skyline is different because we try not to get put into the pocket of bubblegum or really nailed down to one demographic. Where we will all share the same influences, like we love and respect Boyz II Men, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Frankie Valli … we do all come from separate vocal, dance, and just lifestyles. Different backgrounds that when we come together it kind of transcends that pocketing of a specific genre of music that is demographically for one sort of person. We feel like our music can reach out to so many more.
So, while you are a band of boys, you just feel you basically have a bit more of your own flavor?
Shad: Yeah, we’re really a group of guys with different talents and flavors. We have a member that can rap and if you listen to how we sing and what we put into it, it is different than what you would consider to be a typical ‘boy band’.
But, you aren’t offended by the term then?
Shad: Not at all.
All: No, no.
Vartan: To be even categorized and compared to ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys and even The Beatles … it’s amazing to us. Because they moved so many people with their music, touched so many lives and at the end of the day that’s what is important to us. Now that we have gained a little bit of success and we see our music touching people’s lives, people can call us whatever they want … we know what we’re doing is right and true to our hearts. So, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
Okay, well you just recently opened up for songster Colby O’Donis. What was that like for you?
Ryan: That was actually I’d say a mind blowing experience for all of us. We all loved being on stage, we had a lot of people that came out to support us in our first full actual concert that we did. We were all a little nervous just like everyone usually is, just like you should be before you go on for a big show. If you’re not nervous you’re doing something wrong. [Laughs] That’s what we always say, our manager tells us that and we definitely agree with that. But the show itself was definitely incredible. I think the biggest thing we take away from what we do is just the effect we have on all our fans. Just looking at all their faces, seeing how we touched their lives … it’s an amazing feeling for us. It makes us love to get up every day and do what we do; we’re so blessed to be able to do this.
That’s what it’s all about. Did you get to meet or hang out with Colby?
Erick: Yeah, we got to meet him afterwards and watch him perform. He’s an amazingly talented cat so; even to just share the stage with him was a true honor. He’s very cool, very nice to us and really impressed with what we did too. So, it was very cool to join him – just a night of celebration for all of us.
It would be cool to see maybe a little duet between you guys. I could see that, and he is just crazy on that guitar.
Erick: For sure.
Vartan: We’ll see what happens. You never know!
Your first single is “Not the Only One”, currently on iTunes; can you tell us the story behind the track?
Crespatrick: The song is a heartbreak song, definitely something a lot of people can relate to. Pretty much everyone goes through heartbreaking hard times in different relationships in their lives. It’s something in the song that we realize everyone does go through, because you see it on a daily basis. Some of the tag lines on there … ‘we’re not special, ‘cause we’re not the only ones that go through this’. It’s kind of like a sad realization in the end that we’re not the only ones that go through this. It was a song given to us by one of my best friends who’s an amazing writer and we just really connected with it. We just put our heart and soul into it.
Well, it sounds really good. I like it.
Vartan: Have you bought it on iTunes yet? [Laughs] If not, you need to go get it.
It’s definitely like a different first single, not a very uppity Pop kind of sound. I like it.
Vartan: We do have a lot of upbeat stuff, but we’re really proud of that song because we really put our hearts and souls into it. We don’t put anything out until we feel like Skyline is on that song, we don’t just take it and are like ‘okay, here it is’. We lived with that song for six months, helped arrange it, pick out the parts … it’s just a beautiful process. That song just means so much to us, and we’re very proud that we can actually sing on that record. You know you think ‘boy band’ and you typically think first record ‘auto tune’ and really crappy dancing. But we just wanted to come out and show people that we can sing and we have talent.
Erick: The other cool thing about “Not the Only One” that a lot of people may not know, it was originally written as an a cappella song. Five part a cappella harmony, and then we took it to and amazingly talented producer, Wes Quave, who’s also a friend of ours. He took what we had done a cappella and then kind of produced it and made it into the track that you can now buy on iTunes. So, it really does have all five of our voices, and five part harmony even singing background vocals that aren’t even words … do’s and da’s, that kind of fill out the song along with the instrumentation. Kind of a cool new wave thing that not many people are doing.
Crespatrick: Another thing about that song, the influences like Frankie Valli and Dion & The Belmonts, which is those straight ooh’s and ahh’s in the background as well as the front man singing and then switch it up. So, you can kind of see that influence on that song. My friend, he shares a lot of the same influences that we do. So, it was great to work with him.
Ryan: We love the song; the song for us I must say is a great first impression, because that’s really what it’s all about. You know when you step on to the scene, you’re up and coming, you’re new, you’re fresh out there. It’s all about your first impression, that’s what people take from you, and that’s what is going to live with you for the rest of your career. So, we really didn’t want to be that group that comes out and falls into just that ‘boy band’ category, we want people to know that when we come onto the scene we’re bringing realness to the industry, bringing realness in our music. All of our music is totally relatable; we want people to be able to relate to it. Anything they’re struggling with or going through, we want them to be able to turn on our music to help them overcome whatever it may be. That’s what we really wanted to do with our first impression, just let people know that we’re definitely real about what we do.
Are you guys working on a full album right now?
Vartan: We recorded four or five songs so far, and every song in the 30 minute set that we perform is different. They all have a different vibe. One is beautiful ballad with piano and violin, there’s one amazingly up-tempo/club banger, and one that kind of has an a cappella feel to it. So, we just try to make sure everything is diverse because we don’t want to ever make music that’s going to sound like one song is the whole album, and you’ve kind of rewind through it.
Yeah, that album where you can play it straight through without skipping any tracks.
Vartan: Yes, because we are so diverse and in what we love so we want to represent from every angle. Of course it’s going to fall under one umbrella, but we want that to branch out and have different spices and different flavors from all forms of music.
Erick: Right now, we’re just trying to make as much good music as possible. We’re not necessarily working towards building an album; we’re just working to continue to make good music. Eventually if an album comes out of that right now that’s great, but that’s not our main focus. Our main focus is to get our name out there and start performing, just get a following … get the word out.
We heard you were recently chosen to be in the Cricket Wireless commercial ad. How did that come about and when will we get to see it?
Erick: We shot it maybe a couple of months ago; it’s apparently airing some places already. It’s kind of spotty, it’s not a national commercial … it’s a regional one. But, it’s going to play in different cities around the country, wherever Cricket Wireless is mainly distributed. It was a blast to work on that project. I was with this dance agent, and they approached me with ‘Hey you’re in this boy band, could we represent them commercially’. They had this audition, and it was our first time auditioning for anything – we went out and put together our version of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”. That was the Cricket Wireless campaign … ‘respect’, and that was something we were all very in tune with as well. We put together our own a cappella version of that with some dance moves, took it to the first audition and ended up booking it and the rest is history. It was just an awesome experience to be on set, with a bunch of other talented musicians there as well. I’m not really sure how long the campaign is going to run, but I think you can definitely find it somewhere online.
Do you guys have any shows coming up soon? Maybe headed over to the east coast?
Shad: Um, we aren’t making it out to the east coast just yet, but we do have a show coming up on the 13th [June] at the Key Club. It’s more of a intimate setting, not so much dancing; more of us just singing our songs and just trying to really get feedback from the crowd.
Before we go what would you like the readers of Fanvasion to know about Skyline?
Vartan: I would say the most important thing about Skyline is … we might be a ‘boy band’, but I feel like we are so different in how we’ve even been assembled that I feel like it puts us in a different category. Because we weren’t put together by a big time manager or like a big time producer; we’re all friends, we put this together ourselves. We began building our empire by just being together, building chemistry and connection; then we found amazing people like our manager and all the songwriters and producers who joined our team. It’s been a blessing and I feel like … you know, you see people like Danity Kane break up and people question their bond and their genuineness. But with us I really consider these four guys my brothers, we like to hang out together, do everything together and I feel like beyond the songs and talent that’s the key to success and longevity … is really liking each other. [Laughs]
Erick: Just to add to what V is saying, we wear these Skyline dog tags around our necks with our names on them to kind of symbolize our bond together and our fight that we’re going to take on everything as a group. This is kind of our journey, but we want everyone to know this is real. That it’s a 100% genuine and that we love so much what we do.
So, you guys move as a unit … a family.
Crespatrick: Of course.
Well, it’s a blast to talk with you guys tonight.
Vartan: Oh, you’re amazing.
Ryan: Thank you! Take care.
Crespatrick: We appreciate it very much.
Inside the August/September 2009