It’s hard to believe GAYLE is only 17 years old, and she’s already been declared a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Going back and forth from Nashville, Tennessee for nearly a decade, the rising star quickly fell in love with the art of songwriting, before discovering her own voice and talents on the microphone. Now, she arrives with her own sound blending the genres of pop, alternative, rock, and R&B into one.
In describing herself, GAYLE states she’s “a 17-year-old girl who’s trying to get her shit together, and trying to act really confident while she’s doing it.”
First discovered by former American Idol judge, producer and music publisher Kara DioGuardi, GAYLE went on to amass over 5 million streams worldwide as an independent artist. After releasing a string of singles including “dumbass,” ”z,” “happy for you,” and “orange peel,” GAYLE recently unleashed her first major label debut single with the bold, “abcdefu.” Her newest single and visual for “abcdefu” are inspired directly by her ex. The visual even sees GAYLE and her friends baking an “FU” cake, going on a joy ride and dropping it off at her ex’s house.
Flaunt caught up with GAYLE who was located in her hometown of Nashville. Read below as we discuss her roots in Nashville, her sound, biggest influences, what inspired “abcdefu,” shooting the visual, signing to Atlantic Records, being discovered by DioGuardi, studio essentials, and more!
How are you holding up in Nashville?
It’s pretty good, it’s rainy actually. There’s this festival that’s supposed to happen on Thursday but it got cancelled because the festival grounds were flooded. I was going to perform. I was also supposed to perform last year but it got cancelled because of Covid. Maybe I need to not be on the roster for this one, maybe I can take a hint and not. [laughs] Where are you located?
I’m in Los Angeles.
I’m going to LA in less than 2 weeks. My best friend and I write a lot of our music together. We’re staying at this Airbnb together and writing songs for 2 weeks, I’m really excited.
You’re so young! Do you feel 17 years old?
Honestly, people might roll their eyes because I feel old. I’ve been going back and forth to Nashville since I was 10 so I’ve been here for 7 years. It’s one of those things where I’ve have those moments of “fuck, I’m growing up. I’m not this 10-year-old anymore.” I obviously understand the fact that a lot of people, which is completely normal, decide to start doing music professionally at my age. Or decide not to go to college or go to college for music and that’s when they move out to Nashville. I’m very lucky because my family’s always been supportive of music. I feel old, but understand the fact that I have time. [laughs]
How would you describe your sound?
My goal in the pop writing rooms is to be the alternative leaning person, but in the alternative rooms being the pop leaning person that can still hang. That’s what I try to do. I love a lot of pop music, the overall genre of pop, but there’s different things that inspire it at the time. At times there’s more soulful influences in music, other times more of an indie rock inspiration comes from it. I’m trying to do a good combo of all of it into this pop thing.
How did growing up in Nashville influence you and your art?
Honestly, a lot of it is songwriting. There’s such a big songwriting culture, but even other than that it’s such a big collaboration. Everybody’s trying to collaborate. There’s one person who’s this cool indie songwriter, but then there’s this other person who literally only plays their guitar rounds with a bass and is a rocker. They get to write together and combine their sounds together.
If you say “I co-wrote this song,” there isn’t an “oh, she can’t do it herself.” There’s a lot of writer’s rounds that happen here. Obviously pre-COVID it happened a lot more, but it’s such an amazing way to meet people. At 12, I’d do these record rounds most of the time in bars. I’d be in bars at 11 doing these writer’s rounds. 3 to 5 times a week, walking up to people like “yo, let’s write a song together.” Naturally, I fell in love with the art of songwriting and collaboration.
Biggest influences coming up?
Aretha Franklin is my top. She’s literally the reason why I do music. Maggie Rogers is amazing. Olivia Rodrigo has been killing it, but her sound, especially Dan Nigro’s production and her songwriting coming together is beautiful. Chloe Lilac is one that I really love, she’s a Brooklyn based artist I believe. Still Woozy, he’s so good. He’s really creative, his production and writing is so interesting. Lorde’s also another favorite artist of mine, I have no idea how she comes up with the things she comes up with. Even as a person who makes her own music, I could never make what Lorde makes.
Not in the way that she does it, even her brain when she’s like “what if we stacked it this way and put in this type of beat.” Even “Ribs,” I could never make “Ribs.” I want to know how she did it, where did her brain connect all the dots to make a song? Then King Princess, Alexander 23 is a great one. I’m trying to think without looking at my phone because I want to make sure I got all of them. I love Julie Michaels, especially as a writer but even her artist projects are amazing. Runforshort, she’s sick. Amelia Ali is a really great artist and her production sounds really, really interesting. Wens, she’s a really great artist from LA. Sasha Alex Sloane, she’s amazing. She just moved to Nashville. And Delacey, she’s so good.
At what point did you realize you could do music for a living?
I just wanted to do it. I didn’t know if I could do it for a living, I said “I’ma figure out how to do this. I want to do this, this is what I want to do.” I think when I started learning more about the business. The first time I came to Nashville, he doesn’t do this anymore but it was for Tom Jackson’s seminar. He talked about live stage performance, basically making money off live performances. I said “that makes sense! You make money off that?”
Because I never did it for money. I connected the dots of if this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, I have to make money off it. Oh, you make merch. Or there’s this thing called publishing so when you write a song… I just wrote songs to write songs. I wasn’t trying to get publishing on my songs, but then I started connecting those dots. Okay, I think I can do this. ‘Cause they’re already things I love to do, that I’ve wanted to do. Wait, there’s a way to make money off of this?! Ohhh! This caught my attention. [laughs]
Did you think “z” would become what it was amassing over 3 million streams?
No! Oh no. It happened a week or 2 into quarantine when I released it, so I did not expect it to do what it did. I’m very grateful for it. Generally, I didn’t even know it was doing well for at least a month. Until I saw that YouTube video, I said “oh wow.”
What are you eating?
Tiff’s Treats, it’s this cookie company that mails you cookies. You can go in the store and get them. I’ve had a lot of anxiety recently, they literally said “to heal anxiety.”
What are you anxious about?
Everything. I think it’s one of those things when things are good and going well, I’m going to fuck it up somehow.
How does music help you cope?
You know, I feel so many things. Sometimes, I just need to get it out there. One of my biggest pet peeves is people telling me how I feel. If people say “no, but you feel this way.” No, it’s a bit of a control thing because I get to say exactly how I feel. If people don’t get it, it’s hard to communicate your feelings a lot of times. Easy to get it into a song and say “No, this is literally, exactly how I feel.”
Debut single “abcdefu” out now, how are you feeling?
I’m so excited! I’m so happy that it’s out. I’m really glad people don’t hate it. It was one of those things where when the idea came up in my head, I said “okay, people are going to like this or think it’s stupid.” People could be like “‘abcdefu’…?”
I like that title a lot.
Thank you! I like it too. But this is what I think is cool, is everybody else going to like this? I’m really glad that people did.
I know it’s inspired by your ex, does he know it’s about him?
I don’t know. This is the thing, I blocked him on everything. [laughs] I literally have no idea if he’s heard it or not. I have no idea if he likes it, I don’t even know if he knows it’s about him. I generally have no idea, we don’t speak. We’re not on speaking terms. We used to be. We’re no longer that way, but I wish him the best. Just not the best for us to be in each other’s lives.
Were you really visiting your ex’s house in the video?
I wish! Here’s the thing, I actually had another ex-boyfriend out of town. He’s generally out of town, his house was free and available. I almost, I was really close to doing it. Singing a song about telling his mom to fuck off, his sister to fuck off, calling his car shit, his job—I figured maybe breaking into his house filming a music video might be a little much. Maybe a little bit, so unfortunately I had to show some self-restraint. [laughs] But I definitely thought about it.
Best memory from the video shoot?
Honestly, the cake fight was pretty fun. The car, riding around in the car was a lot of fun. I used to have this moment when I was a kid, it’s raining and I’m staring outside the window pretending I’m in a music video. Even when I’m with my friends, we kept saying, “oh my God, I feel like we’re in a music video right now. Dude, this feels like a music video.” And it was. There’s a time when we had the VHS camera, we’re driving around. There’s a point for a solid 10 or 15 minutes we didn’t even play “abcdefu,” I said “okay we should probably film the music video, but love the enthusiasm.”
Even the cake fight was fun. I’ve never taken a group shower with my friends before, it was really funny though. We kept dancing around and we’d move the water temperature thing. You know the hot water faucet knob? We’d dance and accidentally move it so the water would get really, really hot out of nowhere, or really, really cold. We kept having to move it but it was a lot of fun. Overall, the whole experience was very enjoyable.
Talk about the Back To School Sweepstakes you’re doing for the single.
Yes! There’s a link in my bio on Instagram and TikTok. If you add my song, you can possibly win a $300 Amazon gift card for Back To School Sweepstakes. If you want to pre-save my song, you can still save it through the link.
How’d it feel being discovered by Kara DioGuardi?
It was the most random thing. It was not something I’d ever expect to change my life, because it really did. I was 14, we met through this pop-up event where basically a bunch of emails got sent out to people. It was on this Facebook ad, you had to sign up for it within 30 minutes. My mom did it because she watched Kara on American Idol, and she got it. 40 people get to go, but 20 people get to sing. I went up, you literally had to write your name then put it in a hat. We’re sitting around singing, I was about the 10th person. She literally pulled my name out of a hat.
Oh my gosh!
Literally the most last minute event, normally would never have gone, but I did it. She literally pulled my name out of a hat. I sang a verse, a pre, and a chorus of the song. It was the worst performance of my life. I was sick and I was flat. There’s this thing where you’re not supposed to apologize before you sing. Be confident, especially as a 14-year-old trying to impress these people. I said “I’m so sorry I’m sick, you’re probably not going to understand me well. I’m in the middle of trying to write this song, but here we go.”
It was my worst performance ever, but then she reached out for my contact information. Gave it to her, we had a meeting. I sent her voice memos and demos of the stuff that I did, and she happened to not hate it. I literally would’ve never, ever, ever, ever expected for this to happen. I’m obviously so grateful but it blows my mind still, talking or thinking about it.
How’d it feel to sign to Atlantic Records?
Honestly, I wanted to sign to Atlantic Records since I was 12. Especially when I knew what a record label was, it’s a prestigious label. It still doesn’t feel real, it still feels fake when I’m telling people. I almost feel like I’m lying, but I’m not. [laughs] All I can really feel is grateful. It’s been a long time coming. I was in Nashville for 4 years before I even met Kara, it was 7 years before I ever released a song through Atlantic. It’s been a long time coming but it still feels not real, it feels like such a blessing.
3 things you need in the studio?
My notebook, I write everything down in my notebook. I always need a pen in the studio because I don’t like bringing my own pen, I like bringing the producer’s pad and pencil. I like looking in my notebook and seeing that it’s a bunch of different pens. I start to recognize “oh that’s when I was working with this person. Oh, that’s this person’s pen.” I need my notebook, my pen, and a comfortable couch. Writing a song, it can be really fast. I’ve written songs in 45 minutes before. I’ve also taken 8 hours to write a verse and a pre. I need a good place to chill like alright, let’s get this shit done.
Are you excited for your mini-tour?
I am! I’m so excited to leave my house and perform for people. Getting my set together has been a joy. I’m excited I’m playing my songs out finally.