Acacia Evans

Finding Satisfaction Within the Whirlwind – Growing Up With GAYLE

Singer-songwriter GAYLE makes it easy to be a fan by coming across as the girl-next-door, whether she is on stage with Taylor Swift, in song alongside Lauren Spencer Smith, online sharing about being on Barbie: The Album, or in person interacting with the rest of us. She is just that earnest and easy-going.

What a year.

Scratch that.

What a career.

One cannot summarize the last 11 months for that of GAYLE, because, in reality, one cannot summarize the exponential growth she has had since her 2020 debut.

If the few years prior to your debut LP involve touring with the biggest stars in the world, earning a Grammy nomination, and finding fairly inescapable global success…. Well, all we can say is that the trajectory is mind-blowing, and if you have the chance to see GAYLE headline clubs for an amount of money that isn’t bank-breaking, do it now, because this moment won’t last long (and she takes the stage in Philly tonight and NYC on Friday as it is.)

In our 2021 interview with the exuberant, subtly dark, but fiercely fun pop sensation, we tackled the topic of finding yourself as a young woman while navigating being an artist at the same time. She said, “Looking back, I love who I am now, but it’s different, and it’s a mixed bag of being super happy for myself and being scared of myself at the same time.”

This still rings true – even if having moment of self-doubt now and again wasn’t the universal experience (Author’s note: It totally is!), it’s also perfectly in line with the name of this thrilling tour she is bringing around the country: The Scared But Trying Tour.

As both a performer and a human, GAYLE is gracious and loving, and everyone knows she does not play around with the vocals. She cannot be underestimated with the amount of tricks up her fishnet sleeve and she has yet to throw caution to the wind as a creative where every release is strategic and every project is done humbly. Getting to catch up with her last week was a joy. It has been two years and since then we have seen her exponential rise to fame firsthand, but chatting for this feature proved that although she has the most intense two-year-long resume and an impressive range of talents to back her up, she still looks at the opportunities in front of her with awe.

Passion is evident and likability is off the charts with this star, and given it is rather impossible to highlight every single jaw-dropping moment in her life, we will share our biggest and boldest takeaways from our most recent conversation with GAYLE.

On the characterization of Spotify playlists and placement of her hits: “People like to make their own playlist and I am one of them. I have a million different playlists for like a million different moods and I’ll make one playlist, listen to it obsessively, then make a new one. They always have random names. What I didn’t realize until I started putting out my own music is that any playlist somebody makes and adds your song to, you can see it. I see where my songs go. I’ve seen some funny playlists. There are some that are disturbing [Laughs], but there are some that are just so funny. I saw one titled, ‘he cheated on me,’ but with like hearts, and another like, ‘I miss him, but I hate him.’ [Laughs] That one was really funny. Again, some are really bad, but others? Wow. I saw one just titled ‘Gemini men’ and one was called ‘sad and slutty.’ That one was really good.”

On building a setlist for a headlining tour with: “I don’t have to think about that as much. I feel like if I had an album out and I wanted to sing songs from my EP, a study of the human experience volume one or volume two, I would have to go and look at the songs that I think are the most liked and are the ones that people would want to hear live. I kind of would need to look at that. Since I haven’t put out an album, though, I’m singing almost every song that I’ve put out ever except for like the three songs I put out when I was 15 in 2020. and that’s literally just for me because I have outgrown some of those songs in my personal life.”

On choosing what songs to cover and reimagine, on stage and off: “When making covers, there is kind of an in-between that I like to fit into. You can kind of go about it in the same way that the artist did and try to recreate the sound of the song – just kind of singing it how you would sing it as an artist – or you take the time to reimagine it while still honoring the bones and the original roots of the song. When it came to [Pat Benatar’s] ‘Heartbreaker,’ it was something that Amazon and [Rock & Roll Hall of Fame] came to me with. I was so excited about it. I wanted to try and reimagine the cover while still respecting the rock and alternative parts of the song. We wanted to start the song out on piano or on an acoustic guitar, and then my friend Reed Barin brought in eighths and we messed around with the structure of the song a little bit. It was just so much fun to make. When covering someone like Alanis Morissette, most of the time I like to really kind of keep it true to heart to really connect to what the song originally, sonically sounded like. On the Eras Tour I covered Elton John’s ‘Bennie and the Jets’ and we definitely took more of an electric guitar approach with it rather than it all being based on piano. We are going to do more of a rocker approach when I do [Fergie’s] ‘London Bridge’ on the headlining run. We were really inspired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers when coming into this cover for the tour, and we kind of reimagined it like that. I also do like a rock version of ‘Wiggle’ by Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg for, I believe, about 45 seconds. We just do it for our live show, but when we do, it’s like, ‘Let’s get this party started!’ We actually made the first verse a little like Bossa nova and slowed it down, but then we brought it back up so that once it goes to the second half of the song, it sounds pretty much like the original. I guess when it comes to covers, there are times that when the song is rooted in more of rock and alternative, I like to emphasize that. If the song isn’t based in alternative or has rock instruments, I like to bring that out in the covers, especially live.”

On supporting P!NK on tour: “She’s insane. It was amazing – those crowds, the open pit, everything. I mean, the crowd really was just absolutely amazing. It was so fun.”

On “i don’t sleep as well as i used to,” her latest single: “The first verse of that song came very naturally because I literally was just telling my friends a story! We were in a session and I was like, ‘Oh, well, I rolled my first joint on a Bible made for kids,’ and like ‘the dinosaurs died for our sins.’ They were all, ‘What are you talking about in the song? What are you–? What?’ My friend Sara Davis who I wrote ‘abcdefu’ and ‘ur just horny’ and a lot of my songs with, she literally just went on the guitar right then and she started singing right away: ‘I rolled my first join on a Bible made for kids, said the dinosaurs all died for our sins.’ Sarah and I held onto that verse for a really long time. I was on tour, and I forget who said it, but somebody was basically like, ‘ don’t sleep as well as I used to,’ and I was like, ‘That is a song. That is a song!’ A couple months later, I was touring, and I think it was kind of coming close to around Christmas time, which is the holiday season and when the music industry like shuts down, so I was just writing. I was with my friend Reed Barin, who I did ‘butterflies’ with on the Barbie soundtrack, and Sarah – it was just us. I was like, ‘Wait, what if we did the first verse of this random song that Sarah and I started? What if we kind of connected it with [“i don’t sleep as well as i used to”] and finish the song?” We did – we wrote it, and sonically, I think that’s the song that’s felt the most like me that I’ve ever put out. I don’t know, but when I wrote that song I was like, ‘Wow, this is it.’ When you’re making music for so long and you’re making music that isn’t exactly the level like you want it to be at, it’s hard. It’s like when you’re 14 years old and you want to write a song that sounds like something specific, but you just can’t write songs that sound like that. You want them to sound something and they don’t… until one day they just do. The songs finally sound like how you heard them in your head! But, it takes years and years and years. With this song, it was one of the first times where I was like, ‘I want a song to sound like this,’ and then it did. I was like, ‘Whoa, that sounds exactly how I want it to sound like. That feels exactly how I want it to feel like.’ This kind of just started happening with me probably over the past year-and-a-half where I feel like I’ve really been able to make music in the way that I’ve wanted to. I’ve just been more satisfied with the songs I’ve been able to make. I’m really insecure about my music, but that was a song that I was just very proud of immediately. I wrote that song with some of my favorite people and it was very much about my life. I also had it for about a year before I put it out, so, yeah, that song is my little baby.”