Soul Food Eye Candy: A Conversation with R&B Artist Skye Verbs

By Paley Martin

 Photo by Naria Velasquez

Photo by Naria Velasquez

It’s 10 am on a Sunday morning, and I’m a minute into my phone conversation with Skye Verbs, a 24-year old  who works out at 5am every morning, bartends 60 hours a week, and is slated to earn a legendary name in R&B history.

Boasting blonde hair, blue eyes, and a Stanford, Connecticut zip code, she’s an unlikely candidate for R&B stardom, but her music says otherwise and so does she: “This is who I am. I know who I am. I know what I have to offer.”

For Skye, getting her message across is far more important than fitting the mold. For the duration of our 90-minute conversation, she delves into everything from self-respect to relationships in the digital age to how J Dilla, Fabolous, and 9th Wonder helped shape her sound.

That sound, by the way, has a name: Soul Food Eye Candy. It’s the name of her forthcoming EP and one that playfully encompasses her belief system and her music as a whole. “I’ve been actively recording for ten years,” she tells me, “and I just completed a project that I feel good about for the first time.”

A modern throwback fusion, Soul Food Eye Candy is a project worthy of her unparalleled sense of self-gratification. It’s a fresh, thought-out display of curated instrumentals, R&B suave, hip-hop nods, and conscious messaging. “You can be eye candy as much as you want but not without being soul food first,” Skye says. “You have to have depth. You have to have respect for yourself.”

Respect is a big theme for Skye and one that she hopes to revive and redefine with Soul Food Eye Candy. In fact, she wants to start a movement. “SFEC is the acronym,” she says. “The Soul Food Eye Candy movement. Strong foundation, consistency, self-respect, substance, depth.” For Skye, these themes are not just talking points; they’re essential components of our existence. But she notes that they are ones that must be learned, and are too easily disregarded in life and popular music alike.

“Nobody is writing about [these themes],” she says. “If you put those words behind a trap beat that everybody loves, people are going to go crazy over it. It’s the perfect combination, it’s the best equation to have longevity and make hits at the same time.”

Skye seems to think this strategically about everything from her love life to her career. No matter the topic, building a foundation and finding depth are key, along with enjoyment of the process and final product.

As a result, SFEC is every bit as rich and empowering as it is fun. Between its attention-grabbing content and head bob-inducing beats, it’s the ideal formula for success — and not just the temporary sort. “It’s just a vibe,” Skye says. She asserts that the ‘90s R&B that has influenced so much of her aesthetic “really brings people together.”

On SFEC, Skye plays the part of singer, spoken word artist, and pianist. The keys, she says, “are really important to me.” She started playing at the age of four, years before she found out she could sing. “I had been writing my own music, but never performing it myself, and one day, I just decided that I should. My mom heard me [singing] in our family room and she decided to get me lessons.” From there, she started singing in Italian and French and continued playing the piano throughout the years, but it wasn’t until middle school that she would discover her deep love of hip-hop.

 Photo by LJ

Photo by LJ

“I was in seventh grade when I heard ‘I Used to Love Her’ by Common for the first time,” she says. “That’s the first hip-hop song I ever really heard.” Lucky for her, she would find a friend during these middle school years in classmate Jabar, who just so happened to be the son of hip-hop legend Rakim. “It was, like, the best way [to get exposed to hip hop]” and to hear stories of Rakim’s climb to the top — which, according to Jabar, was not as effortless as his untouchable reputation today makes it seem.

Hearing these stories lent Skye confidence as she began to build her own musical identity. Despite nudges to pursue different directions that might better match her physical appearance or align with the trends, she continued to pave her own way whether it made sense to other people or not. “It’s funny. I feed off that,” she says. 

These days, Skye is in the building phase of her career. “The whole next step is to keep pushing my stuff until somebody falls in love with it enough to help me take it to that next level,” she says.

As she moves into this next level, Skye makes it clear that compromise is never in the cards. Every sacrifice made brings her one step closer to fulfilling her vision and sharing her message even if it requires more time and patience along the way. “Everybody is traveling and doing all these things and really starting their lives and I’m sacrificing years to, in the long term, have what I want,” she confesses. “It’s really tedious.”

If SFEC is any indication, the wait will be well worth it. True to its core and thorough in its nature, the EP due out this summer is as passionate and intent as the artist behind it. “I know exactly what I want,” Skye tells me, “and I’m not going to settle for less than that.”