At 10, GAYLE was already playing the Nashville bar scene. Marching right into writer’s rounds, her guitar in tow, she walked in like she belonged there, ready to perform — and basically begged to play until they would give in.
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“Surprisingly, it’s quite hard to play these places, because they don’t like 10-year-olds in bars, especially singing songs off-pitch,” jokes the now 16-year-old singer-songwriter. “I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want that in their bar. I think they would get so many customers … probably not.”
Suffice to say, GAYLE’s pushiness has moved her closer to her dream. Growing up, everyone was held in place at family dinners as she reminded them that they were seated for the evening’s performance: her singing. After convincing her single mom to move her and her brother to Nashville so she could pursue music, it didn’t take long before GAYLE was signed by Arthouse Music Publishing. Working alongside songwriter, publisher and producer Kara DioGuardi, she released her first two singles, the gutsy “dumbass” and the generational gap spew of “z.”
At the moment, GAYLE is still piecing together the “story” (the songs) for her debut, all while self-isolating at home in Nashville during the COVID-19 crisis.
Most artists are either going insane or trying to work on material during this mandatory lockdown. GAYLE is doing a bit of both. She’s biding her time doing what any normal teenager in her position would do — she’s writing.
“It’s definitely giving me an opportunity to visually put things together the way I want and get the visuals I want, and shoot some single covers,” she says. “It definitely opens me up to experimenting with things.” She laughs, “Honestly, I’m definitely going a little crazy, but Netflix has basically kept me sane.”
Everything from GAYLE’s breakout single, “dumbass,” which revealed insecurities and hangups around love, sex and body image, and the more tongue-in-cheek Gen-Z banger, “z,” is still new territory for the teen. “These singles are out, but I’m still testing the waters,” she says. “I still have a few more things to say before I collectively release it.”
Writing music for the past six years, it was only within the past year and a half that GAYLE has written from her core. Under the mentorship of DioGuardi, GAYLE finally found the courage to stop holding back in her lyrics. “I was writing, but I wasn’t writing anything worth releasing, and that made me feel like shit,” she says. “Kara said, ‘go deeper. No one’s stopping you except for you, so why are you stopping yourself?’ Before then, I would never go to a deep or vulnerable place, only these broad subjects. Then one day I was like, fuck it. I’m just gonna do it, and I wrote ‘dumbass.’”
Deep diving into love on her latest single, “happy for you,” the track moves in its acoustic breakdown of a relationship that went awry. “It came from a relationship that I learned a lot from,” she admits. “It didn’t necessarily last a long time, but it definitely affected a lot of my perspectives of my songs.”
A complete 180-degree turn, “Orange Peel” is a sexier R&B croon, bursting from the go with “I’m sticky, I’m a treat …” through verses, “Put me in the octagon, I’ll fight for ya. I can make a man go, like a mother-fucking mango.”
More than anything GAYLE just wants to tell a story — her story — at this point in her life and has pulled in a team of writers, including Sarah Davis — who co-wrote on “orange peel” and several other tracks — Reed Baron and Bre Kennedy among others. “I definitely find it very therapeutic writing a song, getting all of my emotions on the page,” she says. “The scariest part is thinking, ‘How do I sing this to people? How do I put music to this? Is this something that I want people to hear, because it’s so close to my heart?’”
Honest about her continued struggles with anxiety and divulging new parts of her life, GAYLE admits she still agonizes over what people say or think, particularly when her age is in question. “I still get nervous when people invalidate my feelings, saying ‘you’re too young to know this,’ but know like I feel what I feel, and I say how I feel,” she says. “I haven’t released a song about a personal relationship with someone. I find myself getting extremely nervous opening myself up and talking about that part of my life. It’s very vulnerable.”
As taxing as it may be, GAYLE isn’t finished revealing more about herself, track by track. After all, her story is to be continued.
“I want to tell a story, so that’s what I’m trying to flesh out,” she says. “Maybe it will be told in 10 songs, or it could be eight, but it will be the story that I want to tell.”