Skizzy Mars can't hold on to a phone. The 22 year-old New York born rapper admits to having lost seven in one year, so as to alleviate the pressure of keeping up with a device, he opted not to have one at all. One would imagine that a flourishing rapper would need to to constantly be connected—especially in a time where most of us are glued to the screens in our hands. But without an iPhone to keep watch of, Mars is paying attention to new experiences, zoning in on his music, and enjoying the power of silence. For him, it's better to maintain some of his mystery and to embrace the uncomfortable moments that we often fill with distractions.
From Los Angeles, Skizzy Mars spoke to The FADER over the phone—his manager's, of course—about what it was like recording Alone Together without a cellular device, what he's missed out on, and if he plans to get a phone number again.
So, why did you decide not to have a phone?
SKIZZY MARS: It happened because I wasn’t able to hold on to them. I lost like seven in one year. I would forget they were in my lap and then stand up and they'd fall. The screen would crack. It was a mixture of losing them and breaking them and I didn’t really feel like it was beneficial for my finances to go out and buy one. I just really don’t enjoy talking on the phone to people. I’m very socially anti-social. I might do parties and definitely talk to people a lot, and I enjoy people’s presence, but I really enjoy alone time. As my career began to pick up, it made more sense for people not to have a way to contact me unless they’re actually with me.
Are you a person that’s detached from things?
No. I think I’m pretty up to date with everything. I’m always seeing my friends and I’m always with them. I have a really good friend named Jessie that’s sort of become that intermediate source of hitting me up. Whoever needs to hit me up, my mom can contact him. I have three managers who they also can contact. I check my email and had iMessage on my laptop so that did help.
How did you coordinate getting the album together without a phone?
I lived with Michael Keenan who produced every song on the album. He had a hand in every song on the album and executive produced every song on the album. I’d just wake up and go downstairs to the studio and make a song, so it wasn’t ever a problem. You’d be surprised how much you can do without phones. It also played into the concept of the album. When I came up with the title, I was at the table with a bunch of my friends and we were all on the phones or on our laptops and whatever it was. I kind of wanted to take a break from that and have that help me creatively and understand what that meant to just be to yourself and your own thoughts and to have silence. We rarely have silence in our lives. When we think about it, we always have music on or something. Silence is an interesting thing for creativity.
We rarely have silence in our lives. When we think about it, we always have music on or something. Silence is an interesting thing for creativity.
How do you think it affected your creativity?
It wasn’t a disconnect from the world. It wasn’t a step away from pop culture. I was still up to date on Twitter on my laptop. It wasn’t [like cutting off] all electronics. But, having that time, it helped me focus. In the past, in the studio, especially in New York where I’m from, I was always on my phone and friends and family always texted me. I always had group chats and notifications. Stepping away from that gave me more time to focus on my rhymes and taking the whole process more seriously. I think it’s my best project to date and it should’ve been.
What does being inaccessible do for you as an artist?
It’s just doper. I don’t do it on purpose. I’m just not like a person who wants to be mysterious, I just genuinely don’t really want to always be out in the open. I’m human. I have insecurities like a human and I just happen to have a love for making music. I have a great fan base that supports that music, but I genuinely don’t like to be out that much. When I was coming up, I was doing photo shoots and stuff like that. A couple years later, no one really wants to put a picture up and everyone wants to start a Soundcloud as a random name. You don’t want to give everyone everything at one time. So it definitely keeps people coming back to your content. It’s not something I do on purpose. I’m a mysterious dude in general.
How are you able to archive things that you may have thought of and wanted to save quickly?
Text Edit on my laptop. I never handwrite—I’m kind of too lazy—so I use Text Edit on my Macbook. It has all of my raps.
Did you ever feel like you missed on anything?
I missed out on a lot, like just calling people. I’d rather text than talk on the phone, but I missed spur of the moment things. It was very difficult to meet people. You literally have to meet someone at a time and place and know their apartment number, so I’ve borrowed a lot of Uber driver’s phones to make some calls.
Do you have a plan moving forward to get a phone?
I’m going to get a phone next week. I hear the Snapchat thing is cool that the kids are talking about. I have a Snapchat and it’s run by my friend and I see everything. It might be cool to call people once in a while. I gotta call my grandma.
Is there anything else you want to say about not having a phone?
I just want to say, you can do it. Believe in yourself. It’s definitely a thing where only certain professions can do it. Most us can't afford to not have cellphones, but we should just try. It’s a learning experience.