Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gayle Skidmore is getting ready for the release of her second full length CD, titled Sleeping Bear, on her own Raincoat Records. Classically trained Gayle has no problem rocking out on the album’s twelve tracks and it’s easy to see why she’s been labelled a ‘musical McGyver’. We caught up with Gayle to talk about Sleeping Bear, her best gigs and what’s on her bucket list.
We recently reviewed your album, Sleeping Bear, but for those who haven’t heard it yet, tell them about the album and what people can expect from it.
Gayle: Sleeping Bear is a collection of songs that I wrote about going through what was like a death to me. During that time, my mother was going through chemotherapy and I went on a tour to NY and back by myself, which felt like a huge test of strength. It was a very healing process to record this album, and I had an amazing time working with my band. Recording the string section (7 violinists and 3 cellists) was a completely surreal experience, and one of the best moments I have had in my career to date. I was really privileged to work with Ben Moore on my songs and I believe this is the best thing I’ve ever done. Listeners can expect a bit more rock than my Make Believe album, a wide range of emotions in the songs, and my usual whimsical instruments like the kalimba, vibraphone, folk harp, and more.
Describe your music and/or sound in one sentence…
Gayle: Songs from the heart for the thinking soul.
Who are your musical influences?
Gayle: My musical influences depend on my mood. I tend to experiment with a lot of different styles and go through phases of listening obsessively to different bands. A few years ago I went through an Irish Folk music phase and wrote a lot of strange ballads. I then transitioned to listening to only Radiohead, and later moved on to Big Band music. I’m always intrigued by anything orchestral and dynamic, and love Andrew Bird, Patrick Watson, Sufjan Stevens, Lhasa de Sela, My Brightest Diamond, Rufus Wainwright, and Damien Rice. There are also so many amazing indie artists that I meet on the road that end up influencing me- Fierce Creatures, Strange Vine, and Royal Canoe, to name a few. I love to try out different styles and see how they will affect my own writing.
In your opinion, what is the best album ever written?
Gayle: Jeff Buckley’s Grace is, in my opinion, the best album ever written. It’s a beautiful collection of songs that are masterfully written, incredibly moving, and performed impeccably.
What’s been your best gig so far?
Gayle: One of my best gigs so far this year was my recent headlining gig at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, CA. I had a few of my strings players with me and we all felt like it was a very magical night. I’m looking forward to performing more with my band this fall.
If you could duet with anyone, who would it be?
Gayle: I would love to duet with Sufjan Stevens. He’s an incredible songwriter and Seven Swans is one of the albums that has been most influential to me.
What TV show would you like to hear your music featured on?
Gayle: I’d love to get my music on Parenthood.
Where in the world would you most like to perform?
Gayle: I would love to perform in Finland! I’ve been wanting to travel there for years and haven’t made it yet. I started learning Finnish a few years back when I was thinking about applying to the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki to study piano performance, and I would love to finally get over there. I hear it’s one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis, which is on my bucket list.
What’s your fondest musical memory?
Gayle: My favorite music moment was a performance I did in Munich, Germany. I had a show there where I played for an hour and a half and then received four encores. It was one of those amazing shows where the energy is a tangible entity and everyone feels as if they are sharing a unique and memorable moment.
Finally, what are you listening to right now?
Gayle: I’ve been listening to a lot of Sarah Jaffe, Lost in the Trees, and Clare and the Reasons. I love finding new music when I’m on the road and adding it to my tour soundtrack.
Read our review of Sleeping Bear here.