Skye Wallace led the charge of our One Song at a Time music video series with the source 17% of toe tapping induced tendonitis in North America for the month of October* her video for “Not Ready For This To Start”. She recently toured from Vancouver to Toronto in support of her newly self-released album “Something Wicked“. On the way we electronically sent her some questions and she answered. What a world we live in!
You just moved back to Toronto. You’ve moved a lot over the years. Any good moving tips? Do these tips crossover with touring tips?
If you play on the VIARail train, they’ll get you across the country for free. There’s an application process and there’s a chance they’ll turn you down, but I just moved a bag that was well over 80 pounds via train for no charge.
So there’s that.
What are two books everyone should read and why?
Three Day Road/Through Black Spruce/The Orenda – Joseph Boyden
Beautiful books and powerful insight into the lives of first nations communities and the roots of fundamental issues of how they are treated in Canada.
Slaughterhouse Five also changed my life. Would recommend.
When inspiration strikes – what do you do?
I go a little insane. I used to try to ignore it sometimes, but I really had to come to terms with the fact that I turn into a very unstable person when I have songs that need to come out. They happen quickly, so if I can sit down and write for an hour or two, I’m usually in the clear.
You’ve said that you’ve started classic vocal training at age 8 – how does an 8 year old decide this is what she wants to do when she grows up? How does an 8-26 year old stay the course?
Singing and music were very much in my life from the get go. I don’t know that it was ever a decision.
By the time I was four, I became enchanted with Randy Travis. I carried his tape around everywhere I went and had memorized every song and sang at every quiet moment.
Please contact me if you would like a picture of me in my Randy Travis sweatshirt.
Terms have been reached for world peace, however one of the conditions is you never perform or compose music again. What do you do?
Well, there are other ways to be creatively fulfilled, I guess. It’d be a hefty challenge for sure. And I wouldn’t be happy about it.
You’ve ventured to the US for some folk festivals, and you played some shows in Italy, did you absorb any of those land’s tales by osmosis, or is that superpower just related to Canada?
War Years alludes to the American Civil War, but really it’s the story of women using their bodies and sex to acquire information from the enemy, which is a concept that spans perhaps all wars.
I haven’t had enough experience to derive the stories from these places yet. I’m also extremely inspired by the places I’m from.
What do you know that it seems most people don’t?
If you eat as fast as possible, you can fit way more food in.
I discovered this eating foot long pizza subs when I was 8. I’m thus a very fast eater.
What’s something that’s always puzzled you?
I’m not hungry, but why am I eating?
You are on tour with a new backing band. What’s the Skye Wallace new band hazing ritual?
Eating nachos on the floor and shots of Jagermeister.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever recorded? What did you record?
I recorded a violin track in a train station in Edmonton. I was recording this kind of experimental self-produced album where I went to all these strange places and recorded this DIY folk album. It was pretty gnarly. I still dig it. It’s called Bison Bison.
Canada is very big, which can make the train ride grueling, but time and again you go back. What’s the secret to enjoying the train?
I feel that most people’s experiences on the train are different than mine. When you’re playing on the train, everyone wants to talk and interact and hear your story over and over. Which is great. But it becomes tiresome. The trick for me is to try to get as much quiet alone time as possible. For others, I might recommend seeking the activity car, as there are always things to see and people to meet.
And three and a half days from Vancouver to Toronto is a long time.
Influences can be very conscious, or extremely sneaking revealing themselves after the fact. What record has had the most influence on you? When/how did you realize this?
Weakerthans Reconstruction Site. I knew it from the moment I heard it though.
After a performance a man once came up to you and said, “That scared the shit out of me.” What scared the shit out of him?
My intensity, is what he said. I laughed really hard when he came up to me and said that. He proceeded to ensure me that it was a good thing. He said that the intensity of my songs and voice really stuck with him and freaked him out a little.
Mission accomplished, I guess.
What is the best gift you ever received?
Shit, that’s a biggie. I can’t decide on one. My grandpa did give me his scrimshaw, though, which is carved out of a whale tooth. It’s one of my most prized possessions.
You’ve done some field recording, what inspires this process? What memorable sounds have you discovered?
I like the murky sounds of people. Talking, walking, making incoherent noise. I like that.
Do you have any collections?
I try to collet tea towels.
What’s your best road story?
There are so many.
Here’s a weird one.
We saw this hitchhiker on the side of the road when we were driving to catch the ferry from Newfoundland back to the main land in May. We were packed, so we couldn’t stop and take him.
We got to the ferry terminal and got out of the van.
I remembered that I had a hard boiled egg in my pocket from breakfast that morning and was super upset that I didn’t get to eat it. (I love eggs.)
My violist Rachael thought it would be a good idea to engage in the ritual of “kissing the lucky egg” and smashing it on the ground. We agreed. As we were kissing the lucky egg, a huge semi pulls up next to us and the sweet-looking hitch hiker gets out. We welcome him into our circle and told him that we would’ve picked him up if we could and would he like to kiss our lucky egg?
He agreed for some reason. We smashed the egg and proceeded to the ferry.
We hung out with the hitchhiker on the overnight ferry and found out over drinks from the ferry bar that his name was Taylor. He lived in Halifax, but had spent a lot of time on the west coast. Because of this, he had a staggering wealth of mutual acquaintances with everyone in the band. We parted ways and went to bed; he had found a ride to Halifax for the morning.
The next day we drove to Halifax; we had a show that night at the Company House.
We were staying at a hotel very close to the venue. We pulled the van into the back parking lot and began unpacking the trunk. That’s when we heard a voice:
“Oh, hey guys.”
And there was Taylor on the back patio of his house that was connected to the hotel parking lot, waving at us and drinking a beer.
He came to our show that night, made us breakfast in his house the next morning, and we became quite good friends. Hopefully we’ll see him again soon.
What’s the one thing about being a musician that everyone should know?
It’s hard, but everyone knows that. I want everyone to know that it’s not impossible.
You’ve said you wanted to bring your music closer to punk. How did you go about that process? Is there a secret stash of screaming Skye powerchord demos?
haha, no. It’s more of an energy thing. A little not giving a fuck. A little rawness that I’ve tried to incorporate in all of the new stuff.
When do you know a song is done?
I finish songs in an hour or two. I know it’s done when nothing bugs me about it anymore. But there’s a time period of playing it live where I’m comfortable letting it change and season and ripen. In terms of when that’s done? I don’t know… There’s definitely a feeling that you get when it solidifies.
When do you know you need to step away from a song?
When I start to get angry. I’ve got a bit of an angry streak at times.
Most memorable meal you’ve had?
Holy this one meal we had at the Tilting Harbour B&B on Fogo Island a few months back blew my mind. Just endless crab and corn and salad and… ugh, it was messed up. We had a lot of crazy good food that trip. Everyone needs to go to Grates Cove Studios in Grates Cove, Newfoundland. Cajun food hybridized with local Newfoundland ingredients. So good.
Song that you’d like to cover but haven’t yet. What would you do with it?
Honestly, I want to cover Boys of Summer by The Ataris. I might do it. Stay tuned on that one, I’ll show you when we do to it.
Dream concert bill? You’re attending not playing.
Neil Young, John K Samson, Joel Placket
*not actual science, though that doesn’t necessarily make it untrue!