By: Casey Winters
Often, you can judge how fun a musician is by what’s on their merchandise table without hearing a single song. Gayle Skidmore, she sells coloring books, which is very fitting for her sunny chamber-poppy songs. It’s simply fun.
And as you’ll read later on, Skidmore’s two performances in Lubbock last fall, she caused quite a buzz. For many days after, I’d continuously see “Gayle Skidmore this” and “Gayle Skidmore that” statuses. This time, she’s on her way to South By Southwest (like many of you others will be next week). I’ll go ahead and walk out on a limb here and say that this will probably be Skidmore’s most intimate and memorable performance on this leg of touring. It’s something you won’t really want to miss out on.
Skidmore will be playing a house show tonight (March 8) with Kat Jones and Westerner. Like Gayle Skidmore on Facebook here, follow her on Twitter here, and get more information on tonight’s show here.
New Slang: First of all, I read that you play over 20 instruments. Which did you play first, and how did you start learning? And which is your favorite to play?
Gayle Skidmore: I do play quite a few, but a lot of that is just dabbling. I started with piano at age four and was classically trained. And that helps one to pick up other instruments easily. It’s definitely my favorite besides singing, followed by the banjo, dulcimer, and guitar. I recently picked up a balalaika at a thrift store, so that’s been fun to write on. I’ve been experimenting with writing songs for my folk harp, which I played on “Make Believe,” though I think I’ll probably leave the harp to someone proficient like Joanna Newsom. Some of the others that I play a bit are the flute, organ, kalimba, marimba, glockenspiel, melodica, trumpet (badly), accordion (barely), ukulele, mandolin, harmonica, ocarina, fife, tambourine, cajon, etc. I also whistle, which I get from my grandpa, who was a phenomenal whistler. A lot of those are very similar, though, so even though the number sounds impressive, once you’ve learned one stringed instrument, it is easy to acquire skills on another.
NS: Do you have musicians in your family?
GS: Everyone in my family is musical in some capacity, though none have pursued a professional career. There were a few professional musicians way back in my family tree, including an opera singer and a hymn writer.
NS:What kind of songs do you enjoy writing most?
GS: I enjoy writing classically influenced piano pieces because it makes all of my years of lessons and studies feel worthwhile. As far as a vibe, it varies from show to show. Mostly I like to come away feeling like we’ve all connected and shared a unique experience.
NS: People in Lubbock were talking about you nonstop after your house show last October. How was the experience for you? And what are you most looking forward to coming back?
GS: That’s so awesome! I had such a fun time in Lubbock. It was really unexpected– I had booked a show at a smokey old bar downtown because I was booking everything last-minute, and it ended up being a great night. I was asked to play again the next night at a house show, the same house show I’ll be playing this time, and it ended up being one of my favorite shows on the tour. Everyone was so open and excited about music, and the other artists who played really impressed me. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again and introducing my tour buddy Kat Jones’ music to them.
NS: What does this year look like for you?
GS: I’m still figuring out how many tours I’ll be doing and where… but I need to cram a lot in since the world is ending in December. Thankfully “The Hobbit” is coming out before the 21st.
NS: Who are three artists/bands that inspire you today?
GS: #1. I met the most amazing band at Sunset Sessions recently… they’re called Vintage Trouble and they’re based out of LA. Their CD is great, but their live show is mind-blowing. Definitely check them out!
#2. Andrew Bird inspires me to develop my whistling skills a bit more. Someday I hope he’ll have me as a guest whistler.
#3. Bela Fleck inspires me to be a better banjo player.
NS: And one more question that I like to ask everyone… What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
GS: A professor.