By Javier Burdette
With the show less than a month away and presale tickets flying off the shelves, excitement is building for the fourth annual Soulstice, UCI’s foremost talent competition. This week, as part of an ongoing project highlighting Soulstice talent, we will be taking a look at a group who will be competing in the Soulstice’s band category: SkyDive.
A synthpop duo, SkyDive is made up of third-years Jenna Mason-Brase and Khuê Bùi. Though both members contribute to all aspects of the music they churn out, Jenna is the group’s primary vocalist, and Khuê handles the synth and beats.
SkyDive has been together, in one form or another, for quite some time. As students sharing the same high school music tech class, the pair first met when Khuê was on the search for a singer to complete his final project piece. The musical chemistry between the two was apparent from the start, and SkyDive came into being.
As artists, musicians, and friends, Jenna and Khuê have come a long way since the 11th grade.
Though it is easy to put SkyDive into the synthpop genre, the duo prefers to call their sound a “happy/sad sandwich.” This is due to the contrasting nature of their lyrics and instrumentals. Khuê’s beats are spirited and evoke joy, while Jenna’s lyrics are, as she puts best herself, “going from sad to morose; morbid, even, sometimes.”
The band draws inspiration from a variety of rock and pop acts, like Twenty-One Pilots, Foster the People, Florence and the Machine and Walk the Moon. Some influences are a bit unexpected; their SoundCloud cover of Taylor Swift’s “Style” is evidence of that.
Speaking of their online presence, Jenna and Khuê have made considerable efforts to promote themselves and their work. They can be found on nearly every social media platform, musical and otherwise, under the username “WeAreSkyDive.”
Last year, they put out a five track EP Ghost Stories; notable tracks include the angsty “17”, which recalls powerful teenage desire and the mesmerizing, somewhat ominous “Demon.”
On every track the duo puts out, Jenna provides heartfelt vocals, and Khuê produces lush, many-layered beats.
Though SkyDive has played shows throughout Orange County, they say that UCI is undoubtedly their favorite venue. The reception they have received on campus is a delight. Despite her love for performing at UCI, Jenna, a lifelong resident, deplores the city for having a barren music scene.
Setting up a gig at UCI is no easy task, considering all the regulations that have been put into place barring students from using certain spaces and performing in certain groups; events like Soulstice, ones that cater to student interest and invest in student talent, provide a wonderful opportunity for Anteaters to exhibit their act in front of an excitable and relatable crowd.
Anyone intent on going to Soulstice will be pleased to know that SkyDive has put months of time and effort into preparing their act. The duo alludes to a dramatic performance that will start out something like a duet and transform into “ballad dance music.” Jenna and Khuê are in agreement that the song they’re playing is one of their most important.
Jenna and Khuê aren’t quite sure what the future holds for SkyDive, but playing Soulstice will be a crucial stepping stone to accomplishing one of their more short term goals: developing a local following. They are a homegrown talent and they want a homegrown fandom.
One might wonder: why SkyDive? What does the group’s name have to do with anything? Jenna explains, “A lot of people have skydiving on their bucket list… as kind of this flight or jump moment, and that is music for us, you know, music is what’s on our bucket list, music is what we want to do.”
All interested should make sure to check out Skydive on their many social media accounts, and look into Soulstice, coming to the Bren Events Center on Thursday, February 18th.