While “Without You” is Skylar Astin’s first original song release, fans are no stranger to his voice.
The TV, movie, and Broadway star has been known as a singer for almost the entirety of his career. Astin originated the role of Georg Zirschnitz in the Tony-award winning musical Spring Awakening from 2006-2008, so when he popped up in the Pitch Perfect franchise as Anna Kendrick’s love interest Jesse Swanson (the role that arguably made him a household name), his established fan-base was not surprised to see his vocals highlighted on the silver screen.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Skylar Astin tells us over Zoom. “I started writing music when I was 15 years old and never really wanted to fully go that route, especially once theatre and acting took hold.”
At 33, Astin has been writing his own music for the majority of his life, but it wasn’t until last week on June 23, that we were able to finally hear his original work.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve done a lot of other people’s songs and covered other people’s songs in every genre,” he said. Although in the TV shows and movies he has been in, Pop has been the majority genre he has been a part of. “[Pop] is something that I gravitate a lot towards. While I still have an appreciation for Classic Rock, and Billy Joel is a huge influence, when it came to this project it was kind of due to what I like to call ‘COVID creativity’ and it was the kind of music I was listening to the last couple of years because it made me feel lighter.”
And at its core, that is what “Without You” is: Light, sunshine, and fun. The track kicks off with a deep synth beat, before Astin’s smooth vocals break through like when those much-needed streaks of sunlight break through dark clouds. Which is kind of what we’re going through right now as communities across the country start to open up again after almost 18 months of global lockdown.
“When this heavy time approached in 2020, I felt even more of a need to feel lighter. When expressing myself while singing other people’s music, whether it was through my Instagram or through the show [Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist], I really loved that connection and escapism I was providing and it was providing me.”
Astin’s influences are apparent, but he weaves them so seamlessly into his own sound, it feels unique and new.
“People like Miguel, The Weeknd, Khalid, Bieber… their music hits hard and it hits wide. People can’t help but love it,” Astin tells us as he talks about his influences, all which he has woven into “Without You.”
Skylar gives credit to his experience in the booth for Pitch Perfect and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist with giving him the confidence to get involved in different aspects of creating his own music. “I’ve always been interested in [the technical side of things], but now I know the terms and I’m able to articulate things a little bit more.”
As someone who built a career doing covers (sorry not sorry we still listen to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack on the reg), he has some ideas for who he’d love to have cover his original work in the future, “I feel like it should be someone you wouldn’t expect to sing this type of song. Like Tame Impala, or Beck. I would love to hear their versions of this song. But I would also really love from more A to B and have an EDM DJ speed it up and make it more ‘music festival.’”
He also mentioned that one of the things he’s been listening to non-stop lately is the soundtrack for Bo Burnham’s latest comedy special Inside, which to us seems like a match made in heaven ,cover wise. Hey Bo, if you’re reading this: Hit Skylar up. We really need this in our lives.
But the big question is: Will there be more original music than just this one song? Because now that we have it, we never want to live without you…r original music, Skylar.
“I already have a timeline for the next two releases. I initially thought I would just release a big album. And who knows, when it’s all said and done, this might fit into a nice catalog that you could call an EP or an album. But right now I’m just trickling it out organically and independently,” he said, when talking about what is on the horizon.
“I’m in a unique position where people have some awareness of who I am, and also know me for being a singer, but now they get a different side of who I am in my personal life. I’m excited for people to get a taste of that.”