When Ryan DeRobertis, the producer known as Saint Pepsi, received a cease and desist letter last year, he was neither surprised nor particularly pressed. "They were pretty cool about it," he says on the phone from Farmingville, Long Island, where DeRobertis lives with his parents and a female cat named George. "They were like, 'we heard your music, and we think it's good, and you seem like a really good person. But that word is trademarked and we can't have you go on the record and say 'smoke weed everybody,' or something like that." DeRobertis took it in stride, until his manager informed him he had to pick a new name, like, immediately. DeRobertis's transition from a beloved vaporwave bedroom producer to an untested performer going by Skylar Spence has not been without its hiccups, but with a slew of press, a steady stream of singles, and his forthcoming Prom King EP set for a September release, DeRobertis is feeling good. Here, he tells us how he lives.
SKYLAR SPENCE: After I got the letter, I got home and got a text from my manager like, "Can we have the new name in 24 hours?" And I was like, "How?!" I really like F. Scott Fitzgerald so they wanted me to go with "Saint Gatsby," which was a name I absolutely couldn't stand. I was just looking deep within everything that means anything to me, to find something that I could stick with at least for a couple albums. Something that meant something to me. So I ended up going with "Skylar Spence." There's a Woody Allen movie and Ed Norton and Drew Barrymore are in it, and he's Holden Spence and she's Skylar Dandridge, and they're like a thing. I used to like the movie a lot in high school. When I watched it again I just couldn't stand it, you know? I thought it was a good way to say like, "That's who I was, and this is who I am now."
I'm almost embarrassed to like talk about it because my first style phase was in 7th grade. There was this girl named Megan who made fun of me because I didn't wear any jeans, I just wore athletic sweat pants. So she used to call me out about it, like "You just need to go to a store and buy clothes." I made my mom take me to American Eagle and I bought all these clothes and honestly I probably still wear half of them. It's not that it doesn't matter to me, but it's just that I haven't had a lot of time to figure out what it is I like, like what brands I like. I'll see things in pictures and be like "Oh, that's cool." But I don't really have my look down yet.
My parents both came from not-so-great homes on Long Island, and met at Burger King. They worked there when they were 18 and fell in love. This year was their 25-year anniversary and they'd been dating for four years before they got married. It sorta sucks because I've always had these really unrealistic expectations of the person that I date, because of how well my parents get along. I was kinda the "head over heels" romantic type for a long time; now I know that life's short and people get lonely, and sometimes it's just nice to have somebody around to talk to. It doesn't have to be anything out of a Danielle Steele novel for it to be real, and interesting, and fun.
When I'm home and I'm with my friends, there's not much to do on Long Island. Applebee's is "the place" for people to go. If you show up there any given weeknight in the summer, you're gonna end up having to talk shit with these people that you haven't seen in four years. So I try to sidestep that. I drive around a lot, I really just like getting on the road and having a friend with me. I like giving advice and I'm better at it than I am at making my own right decisions. I can see other people's problems from a lot of different perspectives. But from where I am, I need my own help, if that makes any sense.