Wrapping up another premiere week, and as many of us are heading towards the Holy week or Spring Break, we got a pretty exciting that would work perfect for either journey. Gayle Skidmore has teamed up with the magazine for the exclusive premiere of her haunting, dreaming EP The Golden West.
“The week before my wedding I was still finishing vocals for the album, which was pretty insane,” says Skidmore, discussing The Golden West, her twentieth independent release overall, and her third to feature an adult coloring book with the album, each picture depicting a different song.
But, with an impending wedding and a new album on the horizon, Skidmore was able to purge some of her past ghosts and let go of a lot of stuff she was still holding on to. Throughout the ten-track collection, The Golden West details Skidmore’s personal journey to leave the past where it belongs, a journey that took much longer than planned.
What was originally to be an E.P. quickly turned into a full-length in 2015, following Skidmore’s extensive touring across the U.S. Then a difference of opinions with the producer almost put the record in jeopardy.
“During 2015, I toured extensively, ending my last tour of the year in Eugene, Oregon,” says Skidmore. “There I began an intense time of recording, fundraising, and gigging on the weekends. James Book of Ninkasi Brewing invited me up to record in Ninkasi Studios. We had initially planned to do an E.P. but we got a little ambitious and ended up recording ten songs.
“James and I had a great time tracking the record and therefore ended up starting a bigger project than we could finish in the original time allotted. We ran out of time to finish the album in Oregon and made plans to track some more of the record out at [Dave Catching from Eagles of Death Metal’s studio] Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California. Our Desert Sessions sparked a lot of creativity. Dave was a gracious host and even jumped in on the last song.”
“James Book and I had a great synergy in the studio and a great start to the record in Eugene and Joshua Tree. However, when I got home with the tracks, I realized there was still a lot more I wanted to do,” she admits. “I brought the album to another producer in San Diego but we had some artistic differences and parted ways,” which put the future of the record into question.
Fortunately, with the help of her friends Jason Begin and Brandon O’Connell, Skidmore was able to get right back on track and set out finishing the album.
“I turned to my friends Jason and Brandon, with whom I normally work on commercial music, to help me finish the album. My friends at Ninkasi Brewing and my fans supported the rest of the process through crowd-funding, and I was able to win a grant for the album and coloring book,” recalls Skidmore. “I kept working for another year until I finally finished tracking. We weren’t able to finish one of the tracks, so we replaced it with a song I recorded in the middle of the night while on tour in Lubbock, Texas. One year, four cities, and four producers later, we finally had an album. Finishing it has been one of the most challenging things I’ve done.”
Beaming about everyone that helped her on this record, Skidmore proudly states, “Everyone who was involved in the project brought their best and I feel like they all caught the vision of what it could be. It is entirely different from what I thought it would be when we started recording a year and a half ago, but at the same time it’s exactly what I hoped for.”
A highlight for her is guest Dave Catching playing guitar on “Only Ever You.” “I’m such a fan of [Eagles of Death Metal], and I’m really grateful to Dave for bringing us out to his studio. It was a dream come true and I’m grateful to Ninkasi Brewing for making it happen.”
When asked to describe the record, Skidmore pauses for a bit and then says with a smile, “It’s whimsical, melancholic music for the romantic intellectual.”
She decided to title the record The Golden West to document her move from California to Amsterdam, where her fiance lived.
“On my tour up to Eugene to begin recording, I penned the chorus to a song I’d been working on while the sun set on the old mining town of Sonora, California. I knew immediately that this would be my single and title track for my upcoming album,” Gayle explains. The chorus’ lyrics, “Let’s bury all we put to rest in the golden west,” captured the spirit of the record. “Since I was contemplating a move to Amsterdam at the time, it seemed only fitting that this album about letting go would be titled after the song that talked directly about leaving California.”
With the record done and set for release, Skidmore reflects on her music career leading up to this record. While she has let go of past relationships and ghosts that have haunted her, she’s also let go of expectations and pressure she puts on herself, helping to make The Golden West the album she wanted to make; pure, honest, and one-hundred percent her. She didn’t make a record to impress others or to make her a “star,” she made a record to truly help her soul, and hopefully others.
“I have spent the last several years touring the country in my tiny car, cramming in up to five instruments just for me, making coloring books, baking cookies, and knitting hats for fans. I’ve driven to New York and back several times by myself and have had countless adventures. I was once an opener for a Juggalo show in Buffalo. I played a house show in a basement in Boise and on the same tour played the EMP museum in Seattle for Ninkasi Brewing’s Ground Control Launch. Once I drove fourteen hours from Chicago to Denver to play a show and was certain I had poisoned myself with energy drinks. I’ve slept in my car, been in accidents, been harassed in the South for looking ‘alternative,’ had a few stalkers, and have had all kinds of funny adventures with tour mates. I’ve opened for my musical heroes, performed in a castle in Denver, toured in Europe, recorded twenty independent releases, and been sponsored by a fantastic brewing company [Ninkasi]. The last few years of performing have been an intense and incredible journey and I can’t wait to see where this new album takes me.”
Also very excited about the accompanying coloring book with The Golden West, Skidmore is quick to remind you, “I still like to think I started the adult coloring book trend,” saying it with her trademark smile.