Gayle Skidmore is one of those out-of-town acts that might seem like a local to the casual follower of the scene. The San Diego singer/songwriter has been playing Fresno on a fairly regular basis for five or so years — you might have seen her at this year’s Catacomb Party. Skidmore is back in town tonight to kick off a series of house shows put on by Love The Captive. I emailed the singer a couple of quick questions in advance of the show. Here’s what I got back.
You started writing songs at 8. Was music something you were always drawn to? Were you even listening to music at that point? What is your very first musical memory?
Music has always been a big part of my life. I started writing my own little songs on the piano at age 4, and my parents promptly started me in piano lessons. I listened to a lot of oldies and classical music, and I loved the Everly Brothers. I later discovered a great affinity for Led Zeppelin. One of my first memories of playing the piano was coming up with fifty different variations of “Greensleeves” at age 6 or 7. I am sure that was pretty irritating to my family.
A follow up: What kind of songs does an 8-year-old write?
The first song I wrote was a creepy little song about death. I had had a few experiences with death at that time and it was a way for me to start processing what I had been through.
Since then you’re written 1,700 songs. Is that number still accurate? Some of those songs make it out for public, but not all of them, I assume? Do you get a sense of when a song is really going to work?
I haven’t counted my songs recently, but it’s most likely around 2,000. Most of my songs are songs I’ll never play for people. I write some songs to be shared, and some just for myself and very close friends. It’s usually pretty easy to tell which songs I’ll feel comfortable presenting to my band, and those are most often the ones that I get stuck in my head. The structure of the songs is always a great indicator as well. I’ve been writing songs for most of my life, so it’s pretty easy to tell the well-written ones from the more ‘free’ songs.
Where does that level of creativity come from?
I’ve always been a creative person. I think that people are born with it or they’re not, but it’s definitely one of those nature versus nurture discussions. My parents definitely helped me by providing me with formal instruction in music and art, but it was always something that I pursued without encouragement as well. I have always loved to paint and draw, and I am not allowed to go to craft stores without supervision because I’ll get really inspired and want to make every kind of craft there is.
This won’t be your first time in Fresno. Do you remember your first show in Fresno? How have the fans treated you here?
Fresno is one of my favorite places to play on the road! I have felt so loved and welcomed by everyone and always have a great time playing there. I vividly remember playing Fresno for the first time in 2007 at the Starline. I was on my first tour with my friend Rheanna Downey, a fantastic artist from Fresno, and it was our last show of the trip. During soundcheck some of my very good friends from San Diego from Get Back Loretta and The Silent Comedy showed up to jump on the bill! It was a very happy memory and a great introduction to Fresno. There is so much amazing music coming out of Fresno, (Strange Vine, Light Thieves, etc.) and I was very privileged to play the Catacomb Party this year. I’m very happy to be working with Love the Captive again and am happy to be coming back to Fresyes so soon!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve got big plans for beating the Ms. Pacman high score at Spokeasy.