Justine Skye sounds enthused. Both during our interview and on her new EP, BARE WITH ME. A play on words, the project is an opening up of sorts. Justine kindly asks the listener to wait on her and accept her for all she is, and it works.
Justine centers BARE WITH ME around narrative and emotive control. She has found the path to self-fulfillment. Across six songs, the New York-born, 24-year-old singer is in the middle of her universe, and rightfully so. On “Secrets,” especially, desire fails to consume her. Justine stands tall above the sources of her woe; she is bulletproof; she is self-actualized.
“This is the reintroduction to me as an artist,” Justine says. “A lot of people know my name and face, but they don’t know my sound. This is me expressing the direction I’m moving forward in and reclaiming my space as an artist. There wasn’t fear, at all. I was more excited. I’ve never been more confident in my music than I am now.”
That confidence manifests throughout BARE WITH ME, which feels like an intimate promise from Justine to her fans. It is her most raw work to date, with the production finely pared back to allow her voice to stand centerstage. The EP stands as the first page in what appears to be a healthier and more resolved chapter of Justine’s creative life.
Our full conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: I love the cover of BARE WITH ME. There’s so much intensity in your eyes. Can you talk me through that shoot?
Justine Skye: It actually wasn’t a shoot, specifically. I was hanging around with one of my photographers. There wasn’t much intention behind the photo initially, but I knew it was something special. I wanted to save it, and I knew I was putting out music soon. The photo was extremely powerful to me and also inspired the direction of the music, too. A lot of the things I’ve done in the past have been overly produced, and this [EP] felt raw to me.
You own who you are, your narrative, and your emotions on this EP. Was there any fear, being so open?
It wasn’t necessarily fear; it was something that I’ve always wanted to do. But being intertwined with labels and so many people on the team, it kinda got lost. I was listening to everyone else instead of listening to myself. It was something that was trapped inside of me, and eventually, it broke out.
Was there any fear when you were done with the work?
This is the reintroduction to me as an artist. A lot of people know my name and face, but they don’t know my sound. This is me expressing the direction I’m moving forward in and reclaiming my space as an artist. There wasn’t fear, at all. I was more excited. I’ve never been more confident in my music than I am now.
How did you push yourself in the booth?
It happened pretty naturally. I got to work with some people I was comfortable with, that helped push me creatively. Finding people to work with… Sometimes you get lost in the system of a label, putting you in the studio with producers and writers, and it’s not organic, or it has no feeling to it. So I started to find a group of people I was comfortable with, that I felt could execute the feelings I was trying to express.
“When You’re Ready” is tender and affecting. Can you walk me through the writing of that track?
I was in London for a week or two. I wrote that song with a friend of mine, Ari PenSmith, and P2J, who produced it. I was going through something in my personal life at the time and wasn’t sure how to express it. I had writer’s block, and I was like “What do I say? How do I say it? Why don’t I say it? I don’t know what to say.” I just put all the emotions I was feeling into the song. It was the last song that I did for this project. I was pretty nervous about it, because I didn’t get to live with it as long as the other songs, so I wasn’t sure if people would like it. But I don’t care if they like it or not, because it meant something to me. It’s a lot of people’s favorites [laughs].
Do you create with your fans in mind?
I make music for myself, and it’s a plus that other people like it. When you’re trying to please everyone else—that’s what my label was trying to get me to do—it just doesn't work. I realized I should make music that I love, and listen to, and makes me feel great. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It’s just a plus that people love it.