Music is a culture and art movement with descriptive lyrics that can paint an emotional picture. It can become a form of therapy, a tool for awareness, the voice of a nation or just the vessel of once personal thoughts regarding everyday life. People seem to forget that music is an immediate form of culture, inspiring dance moves and fashion reflecting the communities from which it was birthed and raised - and even at times, rejected.
John Skeete & John Skeete Music
John Skeete is a Boston based artist best known for his emotional content and delivery. At an early age John was exposed to the world of music, where he learned basic piano, played clarinet and tenor saxophone in his high-school band. John knew that somehow music was going to play an instrumental role in his life. In 2015 he began to further explore his musical abilities with the help of his friends Donte and Gregory Weekes (better known as DWeekes and GWeekes). They collaborated on a song that John was able to perform at Boston Latin Academy’s Annual Spirit Day. After receiving positive feedback John continued to hone in on his craft.
In 2016 John began to take performing seriously, always listening and implementing constructive critiques and observances. In 2017 alone John participated in over 20 events including open mics and showcases. John was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Coast2Coast Live Competition and became a featured performer in the first East Coast Music Conference in Virginia. John has been gleaning the most out of his opportunities and building his network. John has recently released his debut EP titled Elements, which has already been featured on the “Rach the Great Show” on the Urban Heat radio based in Boston.
John Skeete hopes to tell a story that can sit with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. Using the power of music to effect a change in local communities, encouraging peers to think for themselves and elevate higher than their current plight. Never allowing anyone to take them out of their element.
John Skeete, Tell us your story:
I always hear artists state Boston is not the city for musicians and artists. Some leave Boston to pursue careers in L.A., New York, Miami, Atlanta, etc -- what are your thoughts on this? What are some of the challenges you've experienced and are they conducive to location?
Someone once told me: “If you make it in Boston you can make it anywhere”. I honestly couldn’t agree more. Boston is a city that isn’t built for hip-hop to thrive. The lack of access to premium venues and genuine paid opportunities for artists is a large contributing factor to why a lot of Boston’s talent chooses to go elsewhere to sustain their artistry. Some challenges I’ve experienced with being in the Boston scene is finding consistent opportunities to perform and make a justifiable amount of money. Another challenge of being in the Boston hip hop scene is navigating and dealing with the different cliques within the city. Boston is a really small city so everybody tends to know everybody, and as a result the majority of the city operates on their own biases oftentimes not allowing themselves to be open to different artists.
If you could describe your sound, how would you do so? Paint the picture for those who may have not yet heard your music.
To be quite honest I get asked to describe my sound and I struggle to do that. I am a versatile artist. I often tell people: “whatever you need I can make it”. I’ve only been making music as an official artist since 2016. So I still have SO MUCH more to learn and to grow within my artistry. This may sound a little weird but I genuinely make my music for myself, not so much for other people, I believe that is why people tend to gravitate towards my music, because it is authentic.
What are you currently working on or do you have any new projects in the works? Any new collabs?
One thing about me and music is that I am ALWAYS working. Even on days where I don’t write or can creatively get in the mood, I’m strategizing my next moves with it. I released my flagship project Elements in February of 2020 on all major platforms. I had a few visual projects in the works before the Great Quarantine of 2020 happened and slowed down everything. The stoppage of the world actually afforded me the opportunity to lab with some more experienced artists and hone in on my songwriting. Early in June I made the decision that I would start to put myself under more pressure to be more consistent in releasing music. So I created Skeete Saturdays. My goal is to release a piece of content: a video, song, photo shoot etc. every Saturday.
I was blessed to tune into one of your IG Live sessions where you were actively writing to some amazing beats. What do you gain from sharing your process with your followers?
First of all, I appreciate you and the Nilanjo family always showing support and tuning in to my endeavors. That IG Live session was a complete experiment. It was completely uncomfortable for me. I am not used to writing around or in front of other people, usually I write in my room or somewhere isolated in my house. The Live was cut short because of Instagram’s copyright algorithms but in the short amount of time I spent on Live it helped me to see just who was genuinely engaged with me.
Right now, our community is in a state of social and systemic unrest. How has this impacted or influenced your writing/music?
2020 has honestly been the second biggest roller coaster of a year for me in my life. The state of affairs truly has been a lot of work to keep up with. I took a strong two to three weeks off from writing to be tapped into the various social media streams and keeping myself knowledgeable. Being a black man of Caribbean descent in America I have experienced social and racial injustice first hand. It’s always been a topic I often write about. In my first few Skeete Saturdays I released a few songs that I had actually written before the social justice protests flared up. So it was kind of a weird time for me watching everything happen while I was sitting on the songs. I genuinely didn't know whether to release it around that time because I didn't want to come off as trying to capitalize on the times.
How has the active pandemic impacted you? Have you had any shows cancelled that you were looking forward to? Have you missed studio sessions?
The active pandemic has impacted me in a weird way. I left my job because of COVID so I have had a lot of time to really focus on my artistry and networking with people. I didn’t have any shows lined up but I was going to begin reaching out to venues to host a few shows, in order to promote my Elements EP release. With the studio closing down I definitely did miss a few great opportunities to record. As outside has opened up and the studios have opened back up I have been recording almost 7 songs weekly. So I feel like I will be able to catch up and fulfill my 2020 quota.
Do you have any words of inspiration or encouragement for the people reading?
Honestly the greatest piece of encouragement I can give someone is to never give up. EVER. There were many times when I was on my music journey that I thought about giving up because of self-doubt, the fear of rejection, and lack of motivation. Another thing I can suggest is making sure that you surround yourself with the right people. I truly believe God placed the people in my close circle around me to help me work through the aforementioned issues.
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