Their YouTube room experiments with vintage instruments have reached millions of views.
John and Lindsey call themselves ‘Skeye’ – and their unique music is rapidly building a fanbase on YouTube.
We asked them what attracted them to YouTube, the gear they use and their strategy in building an engaged audience.
What inspired you to start making YouTube videos?
We were most interested in the ability to connect with our fans through YouTube. We were able to reach such a broad audience, yet deliver a personal-feeling “face-to-face” experience to anyone who viewed our videos.
Do you do more gigs or videos and which do you prefer?
There are magical things about both sides, so it’s hard to pick just one! For a while, we were making way more videos than gigging. But recently, we’ve been fortunate enough to hook up with some really awesome musicians to play shows with us. Playing live has influenced our recording quite a bit, and vice versa.
Any tips on the technical side of video making?
Spend time on getting it right, and I mean both video and audio. Place your mics carefully, experiment with sound, play with lighting and backgrounds, and don’t be afraid to go beyond traditional – think about interesting color grading, etc.
What gear do you use?
For audio gear, we record using a variety of mics – Neumanns, Telefunkens, Mojaves, and sometimes a good old SM57. We collect vintage instruments, so you’ve probably seen a Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, vintage guitars, and others in our videos. It’s all about finding the sound that appeals to you!
What about video gear?
We’ve been shooting with a Canon 60D DSLR for a while, but we recently upgraded to a Black Magic 4K with a Carl Zeiss prime lens.
Most important lesson you have learned about social media?
Social media can be tough – but it’s a lot like the real world in some aspects. Consistency is definitely key. Keep putting new things out there – even if it’s just a reminder about your next show or some free MP3s for fans to download. Keep your presence alive.
I guess we all want to get lucky on YouTube!
Timing can be everything. If you happen to cover the next top song, it could be your big break! Other times, you missed it by a hair. But one thing is true – fans love when it comes from your heart. Nothing compares to something you really poured your soul into. Fans see that kind of stuff and it’s why they decided to follow you in the first place.
What ingredients are essential for a great vocal performance?
A great vocal performance, at least for me, comes from really being there and losing myself in the performance. And of course, practice makes perfect.
But can you really practice in a way that makes for a great performance?
I don’t think practice means rehearsing the same melody every single time, and then getting on stage and singing it exactly the way you rehearsed it. That’s boring, and it feels too rehearsed for the audience. But here’s the way I make the most of my rehearsal time: I spend time getting to know my voice, what I’m capable of, where it’s worth it for me to take risks and really go for it, and where I need pay attention and focus. It helps me feel confident on stage and when it’s time to deliver, I can have fun and let it flow.
Was there a particular thing that helped you reach a larger audience?
YouTube was definitely the largest player in our ability to build our audience. There is a huge web of connected artists on YouTube, and they respond to each other. We become a bigger part of this conversation with every video we make.
Current favourite YouTube artists? Any newcomers to look out for?
Pomplamoose, Gregory Brothers, Lauren O’Connell, Ryan Lerman.
Skeye: a guy who played guitar met a girl who could sing. John and Lindsey, two native New Yorkers, started writing music together in 2008 and later dubbed themselves “Skeye.” They embarked on two projects: an endeavor they called “Room Experiments,” and writing their first record. In each location, they experimented with acoustics, ambience, and the space’s general response to sound. Skeye built a collection of these live recordings on YouTube, and gained the attention of a large international following. They released their first album, Bleuphoria, in 2011 and a second studio album, Sea & The Stars, in 2014. Skeye is currently producing an EP as a third studio installment.