There’s no one else quite like The Skivvies. They’ve shared the (nearly naked) stage with the biggest names on Broadway and have taken New York by storm with sold out show after sold out show. We chatted with the duo about what inspires them, arranging songs and yes, how they keep their bodies looking great for their shows.
Original interview from the August 2013 BLEEP Magazine
Photography by Tyler Dean King
What music did you listen to when you were kids?
Nick: My first album was Janet Jackson’s “Control.” My sister is seven years older than me and she always had the best taste in music. So whatever she was listening to at the time was what I listened to as a kid. Also, my dad was a DJ so we always had the most current music, all on vinyl, and his fancy equipment. My dad most recently starting giving me his vinyl collection because I have become such a vinyl junkie. I love listening to an original album on vinyl because there’s something about the sound of the needle on the record that feels like a complete experience.
Lauren: I grew up in Detroit with a father who is a bass player in the Detroit Symphony, so there was always classical music playing. My mother is a dancer and would always have Motown, R&B and pop playing on the radio. As a child of the 80s and a teenager in the 90s, my eclectic tastes ran the gamut from Madonna to TLC to Alanis Morissette to Pearl Jam to Radiohead.
What made you want to play this type of music as The Skivvies?
Nick: I feel I am attracted to things that aren’t necessarily the popular choice even though I am such a whore for pop music in general. The songs we cover are good songs for a reason whether it is the music, lyrics, or both. So we know how the song works as originally performed. We like to make it unique by putting our spin on it. What’s the point of covering a song if we are just going to copy the originals? So I like to think we “un” cover the song…literally. We are in our underwear. I also like irony.
Lauren: We love taking songs that have either a lyric that is ridiculous (most pop and hip-hop), or songs that are overproduced, and stripping them down to expose the words and the core of the melody. The funniest results are usually mash-ups that involve unexpected pairings of naughty language with sweet melodies on the classical sounding cello and the quirky sounding ukulele, i.e, Rihanna, Pussycat Dolls, Lil Jon, Beyonce.
Nick: The instruments we use to arrange the specific songs we do rely on a lot of factors like the tone, the mood, and the lyrics and then how we want to interpret them. Creating music with Lauren is therapeutic and happiness that has been rolled up into fulfillment. When I create things from scratch, it is the most fulfilling. When I create things with Lauren, it is bliss.
What’s your process when you’re arranging new music for your shows and videos?
Lauren: We usually start by taking a song that we love, or that would be extra hilarious to be heard coming out of our mouths. We see if that song would make sense thematically in a mash-up, and what other songs we could pair with it. Sometimes we have a word that unites the mash-up, sometimes, an overall theme, sometimes the chord progressions and
melodies connect the songs. We decide on instrumentation and then keep playing around till we find something that feels perfect.
Nick: For me, I always keep the lyrics at the forefront. We love to expose the lyric as much as we can. For a lot of our mash-up arrangements, we like to try to tell a story by sewing the lyrics of all the songs involved into one. It gives the songs a nice twist.
Also, if it is an arrangement designed for a specific guest, we like to work with them too. We always are trying different things out with arrangements new and old so I never feel married to a specific idea. We like to remain flexible and be able to enhance it however we can.
Staying fit is obviously part of your daily routine. What do you do to stay looking great in your skivvies?
Nick: I so look forward to Lauren’s answer on this one! I haven’t eaten meat in 18 years. Lauren also doesn’t do meat. I’ve trained with Cory Stewart here in the city. My mom bought me an Ab Roller when I was in the 7th grade. She must have used her psychic powers to know I was going to have to be in my underwear a lot at some point in the future. Honestly, I feel as though my brain makes better choices with every aspect of my life, especially in a creative setting, when I have broken a sweat. So however I can do that everyday, I’m cool.
Lauren: I am very active, running around on a daily basis. I am a pescetarian and try to eat on the healthy side. I do yoga and P90x abs too.
What’s your favorite song in your set currently?
Nick: It’s easier for me to tell you my least favorite song! For me, I try to find reasons to love each song whether its because of the instrument I play on it, the words we sing on it, if it is for a really fun and special guest (always a highlight), there are endless variables.
I always enjoy performing our first song “Its Hot Hot Hot Up in Herre” because it’s the first moment we get to hear the audience respond. That is always` an exciting moment in any performance. It’s like having a conversation with someone and their reaction encourages your next move.
Lauren: That’s a tough one, I always love performing our dirty mega-medley of “Hardbody Hoedown” (a hip hop and rap body part mashup of songs) for people who have never heard it before. The reveal of each song after the other is fun because their reactions are so entertaining. I also love our “Groovy Medley” it’s a combination of “Feeling Groovy” “Groove is in the Heart” and “Groovy Kind of Love.” It’s basically a Skivvies classic that feels pretty, well, groovy.
Nick: I would consider myself an excellent “rhythm ukulele” player if that’s even a thing, meaning I like to strum the uke like I am playing the drum. So the more percussive I get to be, the happier I am. I also love getting to play the Boomwhackers like a bell choir for our “Live Like We are Young Folks” mash of all things “young.” And of course our bluegrass/ hip hop tinged single “Hardbody Hoedown” because it has garnered the most popularity through iTunes and our video directed by Augusten Burroughs.
Photography by Tyler Dean King
Photo Assistant: Cocoa Lynch
Shot at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City
Interview by Ryan Brinson