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For student-turned-songwriter, ‘every song is different’

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Songwriter Skye Strickler spent hours hunched over a piano in the rehearsal spaces in Wiedemann Hall hashing out songs’ melodies and chords.

After leaving Wichita, ditching school and releasing his debut EP “DNA” in January, it’s still the way he writes songs.

“It’s me, a piano and quiet.”

Strickler, who lives in Austin, Texas and has a background in musical theater, spent a year at WSU studying music.

He quickly realized he was spending more time in the rehearsal room than in class.

“My advisor said, ‘Look, our school can offer you a lot, but you might just want to hop into the real world,’” Strickler said.

He did, moving to Texas in 2012 and diving headfirst into the music and recording industry.

In 2015, after a period of self-reflection and writing, Strickler began work on a demo, “Dance the Night Away.”

“I said, ‘If there’s going to be one song to do in 2016, it’s that one,’” he said.

Strickler said he recorded the song’s vocals while hanging out with friends, having a couple beers and dancing.

The song was the spark behind the rest of the EP – every song on “DNA” he and his co-writers began ended up finished.

“It was a process of ‘I have this thing, I like how it, how do I make it work?’”

Inquisitiveness was a key trait of his at WSU, retired music instructor Dorothy Crum said.

“He was eager to learn,” Crum said. “He wanted to get better – and he did.”

Crum said his success – despite not getting a degree – attests to his personal drive.

“At the university we give those opportunities – he had to create them,” Crum said. “I commend him for that. Hopefully what insight I gave him helped him toward becoming who he is becoming. He is still becoming.

“I hope he never stops.”

A collaborative effort with varied musicians and producers, “DNA” is resoundingly pop, but that’s as specific a label as can be given, Strickler said.

“One song is big band, the next one has an EDM drop and a rap feature,” Strickler said.

“Pop is familiar but it’s new. I feel there’s a real art form behind that. Putting frequencies together, putting sounds together, discovering new niches. Each song is its own business, essentially.”

Strickler said despite the eclectic range of sounds in the music, there is an overriding theme: love.

“I think our world needs a lot of love right now. You never know how much a smile can change a stranger. It’s something I learned with my friends at WSU. It was understanding that we all want to be loved.

“I want to make music that makes people happy.”

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