GAYLE Bridges Her Generational Gap on “z”

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At 15, it’s as if GAYLE has already lived a lifetime.

She somehow bares everything wide open, including hang ups most adults still have difficulty confronting—mental struggles, body image, love, sex. Nothing is off limits for the teen as she exposes herself completely in debut “dumbass” and the generational harpoon of latest single “z.”

Filtered through self-imposed anxieties and other insecurities, “dumbass” is raw and well beyond her 15 years, delving into the overthinking that holds everyone back in lyrics I tell my friends I’m doing fine, but really I’m losing my mind. It’s about not trying to please everyone and earnestly exposes the hurt and uncertainty of her young years.

At first, “dumbass” kicked off with the notion, “Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back,” and snowballed into a R & B, pop melody owned by GAYLE. “I do this thing where I close off my feelings, and I take my clothes off so I don’t have to open up to my boyfriend,” says GAYLE remembering how she initially pieced together the track. “I was like, let’s keep going. I could relate, and it was the first time that’s happened in a long time. It just opened this door for me. It was really freeing.”

Overall, its message is liberating. “We’re just a dumbass for thinking those things,” says Gayle. “Seriously stop. It’s easy to say stop—stop thinking that—but it’s hard. But once you do, it’s so liberating.”

Already writing songs for the past five years, GAYLE managed to get her way early on by nagging—and singing. “I was at family dinners, at the kitchen table, and I’d be like ‘oh, you’re seated for my performance,’” laughs GAYLE. Belting out to anyone and everyone, she convinced her single mother to make the move with her brother to Nashville when she was 12 so she could pursue her dream.

Soon, she was getting signed by Arthouse Music Publishing and working with songwriter and publisher Kara DioGuardi, which she says has been career-changing and helped her reach her truth as a songwriter and performer.

“For the longest time she [DioGuardi] was like ‘stop holding back. You don’t have to do this for anyone else except for yourself,’” GAYLE tells American Songwriter. “When I realized that, I was writing songs about me and my experiences and the things that were going on in my life. It just opened a door for me and I was like, ‘you know what, this is my truth. This is what I’m going through. This is how I feel like, and I know if this is how I feel.’”

GAYLE’s favorite letter is “z,” so naturally it became a song. It’s also about Gen Z, her generation, with her sultry vocals gliding through the very tongue-in-cheek track about how different generations are often depicted, and made fun of, on social media. Personally, she’s not too emotionally attached to this digital world. “I think it’s a great place to build a platform for what you want to say as an artist,” she says. “That’s one thing I’m grateful for social media for it is that it just gives me a place to say something.”

Raised by her business woman mom she says gave her a sense of empowerment at a younger age. “When I was little, she was teaching me the business and how things work,” says GAYLE. “She raised me to be an independent person, and I think over time it’s brought up a maturity in my songs.”

When writing, GAYLE tends to have a lot to tell. She writes three to five times a week and doesn’t like getting stuck on a song for too long. Oftentimes, it all starts with a melody and then the lyrics follow. It’s all about telling a story—to herself and to others. “Every time it’s like, let’s tell a story,” she says. “For me I want it to come from a place of honesty and I really think it pushes creativity for me too—just making sure there’s a point in my songs.”

It’s also about letting go more, says GAYLE, getting a little weird, and not caring what anyone else thinks—even friends. “Thinking about your friends listening to your songs is such a weird feeling,” she says. “Listening to my songs is such a weird feeling. It’s all about getting over it. It just being able to let go.”

Ever since moving to Nashville, everything has fallen into place. GAYLE is still getting a handle on playing gigs, balancing school work, writer’s rounds, and managing it all. So far, she seems to have it down.

“My goal is to keep writing and making the best music that I possibly can and just have my truth out there and what I want to be and what I can show for the pop music industry in Nashville.”

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