Gerry Skrillz on The Block
Q: What has transpired in your life that ultimately led you to Christ?
Gerry Skrillz: In 2001 I found myself hating the person I had become & the destruction I had caused in the lives of so many as well as my own. After years of submerging myself within a culture that indulged in addiction, crime, fast money, and women, I was convinced that there was no fulfillment in any of these desires. I remember sitting in my studio crying & praying to God that He remove these desires from my heart. Minutes later my cousin came over to invite me to church, as she had done many times before, but I would always refuse the invitation. This time I accepted and the impact of seeing so many young adults worshiping God with all their hearts impacted me in an incredible way. That evening I immediately accepted the invitation during the alter call and I surrendered my life to Christ. My life was never the same, I had been born again.
Q: You’re the eldest of four & the first to be born in the United States. What was your childhood like growing up & how important is family to you?
Gerry Skrillz: I had a great childhood and having a grip of cousins that were practically like my brothers and sisters made it even better. Shortly after I was born we moved back to Tijuana, Mexico for the first 3 years of my life and we eventually made it back to the U.S. after that. I spent a lot of time in Tijuana and having grown up in both counties practically simultaneously was an amazing experience. There was much sorrow in our family though because the majority of my uncles were involved in drug trafficking and other criminal activity. This was something that was always present in my life and even though my cousins and I were very young and occupied our days with nonstop fun in the streets, we could not ignore the hurt our moms and family members were dealing with. When I was 5 years old, my mother’s eldest brother was murdered and within the next two years 3 of my uncles had been sentenced to long term prison sentences. My family pulled together and found a way to survive with so many of the family’s providers locked away. During many points of my childhood we would all live together under one roof and learned the value of family through these difficult times.
Next to God Family is everything to me. This is even further true for me now that I am married and my siblings and cousins have children of our own. The love that I have for my family is indescribable! I believe we cannot practice a love for God’s family and value it, if we do not practice it in our own homes and families first. It is an essential part of beginning to rid ourselves of our selfish nature and serve others even at the cost of our own hardship.
Q: The latter half of your name is a reference to the word “scrilla” which means money. Was money a hardship for you growing up? What effects did it have on your upbringing in your life & music?
Gerry Skrillz: I was partially raised in a country where minimum wage is roughly $1 an hour. My idea of poverty may be very different than somebody else. We were far from middle class but my mother always reminded me that we were very blessed. When my parents and I first came to the U.S. we had nothing. My dad quit going to law school in Mexico in order to provide for my mother and me. He was hired as a line cook at a restaurant and although we did not have much we had enough and we were happy. Years later he lost his job and we were forced to move back to Mexico in order to survive. My mother would tell of the hardships my grandmother and her siblings endured. Sometimes going without food for days and how they had overcome so much. She would tell me how my uncle that had been murdered was a drug trafficker and smuggler, and how he did not have many choices and did what he had to do to provide for them. From a very young age my mother would let me know that the reason they had sacrificed and left everything was so that I would have the opportunities they never had and that I was expected to make good use of these opportunities. I would see the situation that my family was in and I was angered and felt the need to finish what my uncle had started and provide for my family in a way where they would never need to worry about money again.
My adolescent and young adult years were filled with an infatuation to make money and be successful by any means necessary. I learned very quickly that I had the ability and work ethic to hustle and make money in many areas legal or not. When I began to write and compose songs this was primarily what my songs would be about. Hip hop is an art form that expresses through rhyme what a person has in their heart. The love of money was overwhelmingly taking over my heart and my music was the proof.
After coming to Christ I made the decision to keep the name “SKRILLZ” because the grind for riches is alive and well in my life. The difference is that I no longer grind for earthly and monetary riches but for the true riches, every soul that belongs to Jesus.
Q: Since 2013, you’ve released an album every year which shows that you’re very consistent in your artistry. How difficult is it being an independent artist in CHH, let alone the music industry in general?
Gerry Skrillz: The bottom line is that the amount of time, financial investment, and work that it takes to make a serious impact in CHH or any other part of the music industry as an independent artist is beyond what most will ever be willing to do. This is something that will 99.9% of the time take years to accomplish and the odds that you do are not in our favor. Talent is only a very small component of what is needed to succeed in the industry. With that being said though, we are in an era where the independent artist has recourses that were not available before. Professional quality home studio gear, & social media, are great examples of resources that previous generations could only dream of. The problem is that everyone and their mom now feels they can do this and the market is very saturated with artists. In the end those investing in their craft, creating good music, and willing to put in the work necessary to slowly make a dent in this industry will prevail.
Q: Seeing how the love of money & greed has influenced you in your past, what is the current driving force behind your heart right now?
Gerry Skrillz: My goal is to create dope art that proclaims The Gospel, creates hope, reminds the lost that they are loved by their creator, comforts those with less, & encourages followers of Christ during their walk. Honestly my main focus and great part of my heart is for the youth. Hip hop is a huge influence in the young and I seek to be an influence that counters the music that glorifies and promotes the destructive culture that I was once part of. I believe that if we honor our gifts and talents and exhaust ourselves creating quality music that provides truth, this music can have the same influence on the youth as the one that promotes lies. I am determined to continue to grow as an artist and nurture my craft until it is what the Lord destined for it to be. I want to contribute to a genre and movement that gives the youth great music that encourages and teaches them to boldly express their love for God in all areas of their life.
Q: With three albums already under your belt, what’s next for Gerry Skrillz?
Gerry Skrillz: Aw man, I’m Just getting started! I will be releasing an EP this July to follow up “No Apologies”. I have continued to push my limits with this project and I believe the result is something the fans are gonna love! I will be releasing all the details in the months to come, and will also be releasing a full length album before the end of the year.