The best way to describe Pink Skies’ sound is electrifyingly present. His synth-heavy productions seem to fuse together the best of classic rock with modern indietronica acts such as Tame Impala and Glass Animals. Pink Skies productions perfectly blend together a myriad of genres such as experimental electronica, pop-based melodies, psychedelic rock, R&B, 1970’s rock, and chillwave.
Garnering recent credits on 6LACK’s latest East Atlanta Love Letter, Pink Skies new release "Portland" demonstrates his range and abilities as a producer. “Portland” introduces you to Pink Skies’ mystical world, one where it is easy to get lost in the moment. His latest album Does It Really Matter? was released since this past July. Read this Q&A to learn more about Pink Skies AKA Arieh Berl, a talented singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist whose dreamy and surreal music is quickly gaining attention.
How did you first get into making music? How has your music evolved over the years?
I got into music after watching a James Bond movie with my Dad. It was the one with Halle Berry in it, I was probably 10. There was a really cool scene where 'London Calling' from The Clash was playing. I asked my dad to rewind that part like 100 times. The next day, I went to Amoeba in Berkeley and got a Greatest Hits album by The Clash, and that was it. Hooked forever. I started out playing the drums, but after I saw the movie School Of Rock I decided that I wanted to play guitar and continued to play every single day for hours at a time.
My crew of friends was into rock music growing up. Some of our favorites were things like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, System Of A Down, Rage Against The Machine. We played so much music. I played in a few indie and punk bands around the Bay Area. When we were 14 probably we started recording our own records. My friend Yianni, who I still work with all the time, got ProTools and then we spent a ton of time working on recording and writing. I remember our first EP with our first band had like 2 minutes of silence at the end of the record because we didn't know how to bounce songs properly. Jeez.
We definitely always listened to very eclectic music. Lots of hip-hop and later on got more into electronic music and jazz and soundtrack music. I think the music has evolved at this point to be limitless. I started out kind of being that playing music with a band and recording it was the only way to do it, but at this point, to me, music is so infinite and deep. It doesn't really matter how you create a sound, as long as it just sounds good. I think I've also stopped thinking about genre as much. There's no need to put a label on anything during the creative process. No limits.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? What inspired you to write “Portland”?
I draw most of my inspiration from everyday life. I like to spend lots of time outside when I can. Either going on hikes or surfing or just walking around or swimming. I've found that whenever I'm moving that's when I initially have ideas that I like, and then I can take that back to the studio to refine. Inspiration really just comes from anything though, you never know when your musical muse will whisper something into your ear. Like I wrote a song yesterday that came started with a cool autoharp plugin I found and it was the first setting when I opened it up, which is one of my favorite new songs I have made recently.
"Portland" was inspired by me just being in Portland with my family. A bunch of my family lives up there, and I usually go up a couple times a year, it is kind of like a second home for me. So I was up there, and I remember waking up before everyone and walking around and then I got the idea for the verse. It had a really long phrasing which kind of reminded me of like something from the 70s. Everything else really just fell into place. That opening synth was just the first preset on a synth I was playing with, and then I kind of spaced it out. The initial beat was definitely done in a few hours, and it had a haunting vibe to me. I remember playing the first bounce in the studio and my little brother Josh was there and was like "are you, okay dude?" haha. It's definitely a song that has lots of nostalgia for me. Looking through the window.
For our readers who might not know, you recently worked with 6LACK on his new album. How did that come about? What was that experience like?
It came about pretty naturally. I had been working on the first Pink Skies EP right when the guys were finishing up Free 6LACK. My friend JT, who was engineering that album suggested that I cover "Gettin Old." When I first heard that one it was on repeat. So I did that, and kind of made it my own and put it on my EP Does It Really Matter?. I met Singawd & 6LACK a couple times before that, and they heard some of the Pink Skies stuff. After "Gettin Old" came out, the guys sent me a track to work on a little bit. I sent back this "Maggot Brain" inspired solo at the end, thinking to myself "I can't believe I'm sending this out, this is totally ridiculous." But they ended up digging it, and then we cut it later in a studio.
From there, I kept on coming over and working on stuff over the course of the team working on the record. I learned so much from some of the producers. Specifically from FWDSLXSH who is one of my favorite producers. I feel like working with him definitely made me a better producer. Also Singawd and JT and Yakob, who are all musical masterminds. It was a really great experience, and I'm happy to be able to contribute in whatever small ways I did. I hope to do more sessions for other artists as well. It's a different approach to production which I really like as well as doing my own thing.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenging facing artists in today’s music industry? What advice has helped motivate you the most up until this point of your career?
Good question. I think the hardest thing for artists has maybe always been making a living doing your own thing. Although now there are so many revenue streams to make money in music, it's pretty challenging to get over that initial gap and get to the point where you can focus and work on your art full time without being distracted or stressed about making money or paying rent and stuff like that.
I think the advice that I can share has really been to just to focus and put in the work. If you want to get really good, just do it every single day even when you don't feel like it. If you write a song every day, you will eventually improve. Also, just to keep the blinders on. That was a really good piece of advice too. Don't think of what other people are doing or listening to. Run with the blinders on.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2018 and beyond?
We've got another song or two that we are going to release in 2018, and then hopefully build that into some larger project which I'm working on that will hopefully come out the beginning of 2019. I don't want to say too much because it's still so fresh, but I will say at this point it is starting to feel like an album. This is my first album, so it's been really exciting to sit down and work on it and make one cohesive statement.