We’ve long been groupies of UK band Skinny Living, first signed up by STA Travel Sounds back in 2015. This week, with the launch of their powerful new single ‘Why’, our Creative Director and STA Travel Sounds founder, Tor White, tells us about our adventure with Skinny Living so far.
I can still remember where I was sitting when I first heard Ryan’s voice and the music of Skinny Living.
It was “The Journey”, a song which the band had just collaborated on with George the Poet. It was one of those eye widening moments. I got goosebumps. The message, the melody, that voice, the magic.
We had just imagined up STA Travel Sounds, and we were looking for our inaugural young fresh talent to kick things off with. In that moment, we had found them.
The guys sent me the song they wanted to launch with. Again, more goosebumps, and this time it was accompanied with a wide smile and wide eyes from John Constable, our CEO (who has a sixth sense for talent, tech and ideas that are going to fly).
“Like A Ray” was stylistically very different to The Journey – but still a great message, stunning music, and the perfect summer time STA Travel vibes. They went off to Cornwall with a friend and film maker (Ollie Ali – who later became one of our STA Travel family of incredible independent film makers and photographers we work with often) and shot the very cool laid back music video for us. And STA Travel Sounds was officially live.
A couple of weeks later, the guys were down from Wakefield, in London to play a stage at ‘Reverb’ in Kensington Roof Gardens. I was there. I heard them play live and met them for the first time. When I look back, I can see that it was that moment when something in me changed. Ryan, Danny, Rhys & Will: I had met my soul brothers, and a group who would make their way into the heart and fabric of STA Travel.
To Bestival and beyond
Next, it’s summer 2015 and festival time, we create our STA Travel hostel & stage brand activation at Bestival. The stage was a converted double decker bus. We asked Skinny Living to come and play for us. They played each day they were so good.
We got to hang out at the festival and talk more. Ryan and I were sitting on the upstairs of the double decker bus, having a quiet moment amongst the festival madness. We were there for hours – dreams were explored, lives talked about, plans made. A thing I would come to know well with Ryan over the coming years.
There is a magic, love and wisdom that belies Ryan’s age, evident in every single word he speaks. He lives with complete intention. As do his lyrics: it’s poetry with no bullshit. There is no trying to be clever, it’s just pure deep cellular knowing in a language that everyone gets. He wants to make you feel, to understand, to open. This is what has brought the boys together and created the intense brotherly bond they have. This is what blew me away and created the desire for us as STA Travel to help support their adventure and mission: to help open the hearts and minds of all of us, to be real, to love each other, to bring light into the places that are kept in the dark. To say it’s okay not to be okay.
Things then started to speed up for us at STA Travel, our music platform was taking off. It was exciting, and our belief in music with messages that matter, as the method to communicate with our youth market, with room to be super creative, relevant and different, was resonating.
And since that night on the double decker bus, we have done many things together with Skinny Living. The guys have played in our stores; at the top of the Gherkin in London for a launch party (with one of the Black Eyed Peas no less!); have played Bestival a second time; we’ve stayed in an Airbnb converted train carriage together in Cornwall to shoot a short film; and last year, we travelled to the Philippines to make a video series called “Philippines Unplugged” and the track “Through Each Other’s Eyes” to show travel, experiencing new cultures and going “off the grid” influences music and creativity.
Throughout this time, through STA Travel, I’ve been personally humbled and honoured to be a part of their journey. As they plant each foot intentionally in the direction of their vision. They’ve partnered up with their fantastic manager Duncan Ellis (Atlas Artist Mgmt), who has helped shepherd them through the crazy mad music world, and earlier this year, they signed to RCA Records (part of the Sony family), and now have a much larger support team around them.
It is pretty sublime to watch as their energy flows out into the world, people fall in love with them, and their rise up through the music scene – which is so tough. And, that as they do this, they stay so true to who they are and what they want to do in this world.
The latest single ‘Why’
When Ryan first shared “Why” with me, I broke down. I knew his life, his story was my story, it is many people’s story: there are times in our lives when we face struggle, shame, depression, loneliness, deep consuming loss. But he also shows us the hope. That the way – the way through – is love. And he shares this story with such majestic grace, such lyrical strength and beauty, such tenderness and honesty.
We need this song more than ever right now.
And we need all the songs that are to come from Ryan & Will, Danny & Rhys.
Skinny Living, will break open your heart, like they’ve done with all of us in the STA Travel family.
Peace, love and adventure X Tor