There’s a strong correlation between art and empathy, a powerful notion Skyler Day carries into her work as an actress and singer-songwriter.
Day knew the arts were a part of her destiny at the age of six when she discovered her love for singing while making her stage debut as the smallest Christmas tree in her school’s holiday play. She added songwriting to her list of talents at the age of 10 and learned how to play guitar four years later. While honing her musical capabilities, Day was also fostering her passion for acting, informing her parents that she wanted to hire an agent to book auditions. “I told them by the time I turned 11, if I booked the lead in a film, then we would have to move to Los Angeles so that I can pursue my acting career,” Day recalls to Audiofemme. True to her word, the determined child soon landed a part in an independent film, her parents shutting down the gymnastics studio they owned in their hometown of Cumming, Georgia, and made the cross-country move to LA to fulfill their daughter’s dreams.
Day has since become a working actress with roles on TV shows including Parenthood, Law & Order SVU, CSI: Miami, Pretty Little Liars and many more. In between appearances on major network shows, Day continues to sharpen her songwriting skills. With a growing catalog of introspective acoustic numbers, the Georgia native credits country music for inspiring her songwriting style. “I feel like country music really takes care of the story,” she describes. “It’s really the foundation of everything I do. It’s how I learned to write. It’s the reason I picked up guitar instead of some other instrument. I love the storytelling, and that’s really how I fell in love with music in general.”
The 28-year-old breathed new life into her career as a songwriter when she won a 2019 BumbleBizz contest for aspiring female songwriters that included a mentoring session with Kacey Musgraves and a performance slot at a major festival. Citing the six-time Grammy winner as a “huge inspiration,” Day flew to Texas to sit down with Musgraves before her appearance on Austin City Limits and imparted her wisdom onto the budding artist. “The main thing that stuck out to me was ‘write what you love, make the music that you love, and then let the rest take care of itself,’” Day recollects of Musgraves’ sage advice. “I love that, and I’ve always subscribed to that, so it was nice getting some reinforcement.”
For Day, writing the music you love means embracing her empathetic side. While acting allows Day to call on her imagination to bring other writers’ words and ideas to life, songwriting creates a personal outlet for her to share her own stories and experiences. “It’s the art of empathy and I feel like that’s the same with music,” she describes of the commonality between acting and songwriting. “It’s about being dead honest about your experience, and I feel like that translates with songwriting. You can tell the same with acting, you can tell when somebody’s being so truthful. It feels more real and like you’re creating a connection there.”
This focus on empathy shines in Day’s latest creation, “Six Feet Apart.” Penned in her LA home days after the stay-at-home order was put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Day’s emotions toward the situation were bubbling beneath the surface, in need of a way to get out. She turned to Joni Mitchell’s album Blue for comfort, sitting in solitude and letting the lyrics wash over her. But at album’s end, Day noticed something profound taking place outside her window. “It got quiet and then I listened and the birds were going crazy. They were singing so loud,” she remembers. “I was thinking, they’re singing so loud and they have no idea what’s happening in the world.”
Her emotions soon began spilling onto the page, Day reflecting on the people who bring color into our lives, from our family and loved ones to strangers we pass on the street. She captures the heart of the song’s message in its potent closing line: “I guess that it’s simple/Now we know that our hearts/They weren’t made to be six feet apart.” “I hope that people feel less alone in the fact that someone else feels the same way and that we’re all really feeling the same way. I didn’t notice how important everyone is around you when you’re walking down the street or you’re at a restaurant. These people in the world, they fill up our lives and now I’m noticing how much I took that for granted,” Day professes. “I think it’s beautiful to now be so aware of the fact that we really need each other.”
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