By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
The two percussionists have been instrumental in helping Skellenger carve out his sound. He didn't necessarily start out looking to fuse jazz and Indian music, but thanks to their knowledge of the latter, that's what ended up happening. In addition, Skellenger's older brother, who's not a musician but is a music lover, introduced the three of them to the music of Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain and Indian violinist L. Shankar.
"So combining all those things was really just a product of living my life and living in the environment that I was living in," Skellenger observes. "I was surrounded by a lot of things — the rock, the jazz, the Indian stuff."
In addition to complex bass playing, Skellenger says, he's always been into music that has complex arrangements. A lot of his songs have mixed meters or odd time signatures. "It's not like a traditional jazz tune, where it's the same form throughout the whole song, where you play the melody and you improvise over the same form," he notes. "I have more of a rock or pop influence, where it's more like a rock arrangement."
Skellenger is able to draw on those influences for the other acts he performs with. In addition to his own music, he plays a supportive role in the jazz-meets-hip-hop act Beats Noir, which calls for more funk- and groove-oriented bass lines; and with Grown Ass Man Band, he plays more in the pocket. Whatever type of music he's working on, for Skellenger, it's all about playing your part.
"A big part of playing music and being in a band is being a team and sacrificing for each other and creating a bigger thing than the individual," he says. "That's always been a huge influence on me and my life."