Dana Skully and the Tiger Sharks are this month’s featured Small Studio artists. They’re an Indianapolis-based band that describe their sound as “dream pop punk to make your brain cry.” The group is led by 23-year-old singer-songwriter Dana Skully. WFYI’s Kyle Long spoke with Dana after their performance for Small Studio Sessions.
Kyle Long: Dana, thank you for being here today. Thank you for the performance.
Dana Skully: Thanks for having me and us.
Long: I want to ask about a couple institutions, organizations here in the city that have had a lot of influence on your life. First of all, is Girls Rock Indianapolis music program, a summer camp for young women that teaches them the rudiments of rock and roll music. I understand that Girls Rock played a big role in your work.
Skully: I think I probably would have given up music as like a pursuit -- long term -- if I hadn't stayed in the camp and stayed in that community. I think that my academic pursuits as a kid, definitely would have steered me in a different direction. But, because I was instilled with this passion for music and for performance, specific performance specifically, I think I really just fell into that niche through the camp. And now I get to teach other kids to do that. So it's awesome.
Long: The second institution I want to ask you about is an all ages venue here in Indianapolis, the Hoosier Dome on Prospect Street, just outside of the Fountain Square neighborhood.
Skully: He has done his research! Yeah, so the first ever show that I played live was in 2011, or 12. At the Hoosier Dome, it was their high school battle of the bands that they were doing. I think that, coupled with Girls Rock keeping me in music, I think was probably where the community aspect of it came for me.
Long: And you have a unique voice and style as a songwriter. I want to ask you about that. Let's start with a new song "Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Proud Boys."
Skully: It was a meme on the song title, "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys." So, I just kind of wrote that about the kids I grew up around, just being in these circumstances where they don't really have access to knowledge, they don't have access to people that are not like them. And so that sort of lack of access turns into a fear.
Long: You're 23 now, you're at an age where some people are just starting to build their career.
Skully: Can you tell I have anxiety? (Laughs)
Long: You're already like a seasoned veteran of the music scene. Where do you want to go with this? Where do you see yourself going as a musician in the next decade?
Skully: I mean, yeah, I see it being something that I want to put a lot of effort into. You know, being able to like subsist off of playing rad shows with my friends would be awesome.
Long: Dana thank you so much for being here today, and thank you for creating such thoughtful art.
Skully: Thank you for doing your homework and being awesome.