2019 has been a huge year for Toronto-based rocker Skye Wallace. With the launch of her first single from her new record earlier in the year, and every other monster track she put out leading up to her self-titled release, it was well established that this was going to be one of the most exciting albums of 2019.
Turns out, Skye didn’t just gently raise the bar of what we expect in a great alternative/ folk / punk / record, it’s more like she took it and threw it into orbit. She has also been playing numerous shows in her home country in support of the LP, and is expected to be expanding those dates and locations in the not-too-distant future. I recently caught up with her talk a little bit about the album, and what we can expect in the future.
It’s been a little over a month now since your self-titled album dropped, how’s everything been going since the release?
It’s going great! I’m very proud of these songs and this record, and it’s meant a lot to get it out there and have such an outstanding reaction from everyone. Lots of kind words and press that has left me floored.
The record has blown up and been getting well-deserved high praise. Given that the audience at your live shows had embraced the new material so well, were you expecting this kind of response with the release?
I mean, we all hope! You’re right in saying that the new material has been going off well at the live shows over the last year, so it was nice to have almost a gauge of interest in the new direction before the leap had been made. I can’t say that I expected it necessarily – I think it’s futile to expect anything in this business – but I can say that I was hopeful and am now super excited about the response!Your music is rooted in folk, with a bit a punk edge, but I feel that there are so many more influences on the table from alternative rock, to pop and more. Which I feel makes you stand out as a folk punk / rock artist. Bands like Queens of The Stone Age, and Savages come to mind. Have you drawn any sort of influences from those type of bands or genres?
I definitely derive a lot of influence from a number of genres. Even when I was doing folk music, I was inspired by punks and rock acts alike when I was trying to conjure an energy or a feeling. It’s been fun to blend and cross multiple genres, being influenced by bands from The Weakerthans to Against Me! to The Pretenders to Neil Young to Patti Smith to The Tragically Hip. It’s a crazy blend and it keeps things interesting for me.
As a folk artist, I’m assuming some inspiration comes from stories, myths, and legends? Do you try to incorporate much of that into your songwriting?
It’s been a very natural thing that has happened over the years. The storytelling element is a strength of mine that has kind of taken the helm of my songwriting style. It’s something that I dove into fully with this record, as the storytelling was the focus of the concept of the album.
I wrote the songs during two residencies in Newfoundland and the Yukon, and each of the songs in inspired by the stories of women that inspired me, most in each of these places. It definitely provides food for creativity and is an organic process for me. However, writing about myself is still extremely challenging for me – I’ll be looking to challenge myself and starting moving in this direction next I think.
I love the juxtaposition of fast-paced jams like “Coal in Your Window” and the intimacy of tracks like “Stand Back.” Did you set out to achieve a particular mood when you structured the record, or did the songs just come to you?
I wanted to certainly present the songs and the stories in a contemporary rock genre, but I also wanted to be mindful of dynamic and arch within the scope of the album as a whole. I also wanted the songs and stories to take on a little bit of a mind of their own; the result was sometimes a manic, lustful energy and sometimes a dark, moody heartache number. I like the variance. It’s important to me to diversify dynamically, be it onstage or on a recording project.
It feels like you cover a lot of ground on this release: which song on this album would you think feels like the biggest stylistic leap from your previous work?
I think Body Lights The Way is a huge leap from previous material. Big rock sound and a bit goofy and lighthearted in its delivery. It was a great step outside of my comfort zone. The producer of the record (and guitarist in my band), Devon Lougheed, did a great job of pushing me and challenging me to make these songs into the big entities that they are. He brought a lot of spunk to the record and I love him dearly!
If you only had the opportunity to introduce your new album with a single song, which one would you pick and why?
I would say ‘There Is A Wall.’ It feels raunchy and dark and political, but also empowering and full of energy.
Are there any songs off the album that you love to play live? It looks like you’re having a blast with tracks like “There is a Wall.” But I mean something you can see as being permanently written on a set list?
I think Death of Me, the first song on the record, is my favourite to play live. It makes me feel things and I hope it does the same to other people watching.
Do you have any plans to bring this record outside the frozen Canadian tundra with a tour? Say, to the US perhaps?
There are plans for overseas in the near future! Stay tuned!
Thanks again taking some time to speak with me, is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
Thanks for the support so far. It’s been a wild ride and one that sometimes seems futile, but I’ve felt the love for the music, especially with this new record, and that’s encouraged me to keep going every step of the way.