Skylar Gudasz’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and a bit of an anomaly. You can hear traces of oldies rock, 20’s jazz, and folksy blues within seconds of each other. Maybe it’s the Appalachian roots from this North Carolina native, or maybe it’s what she grew up listening to. Regardless, it’s a unique voice and one you won’t forget.
Cliché: When did you first start playing music?
Skylar Gudasz: I started playing the flute when I was five, but I was always around music. My whole family played instruments and sang. I was lucky when it came to that because playing music was just one of those given things you did in my family, like speaking or learning to read or eating dinner. We lived out in the woods, and oftentimes, my brother and I would be out exploring, alone, and I remember singing songs if I was afraid or in the dark or to the trees or the lawn mower.
Where do you get your musical inspiration from?
Everywhere that lets me. Big Star, of course, old Appalachian ballads, Rachmaninoff, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane—all a manner of things from the Kinks and Neil Young to the Replacements to Neko Case and Gillian Welch to Cat Power to Lauryn Hill to Ashanti to Jack White to all of the great rock bands and songwriters that are in the North Carolina music scene right now, like Josh Moore and Ryan Gustafson (to name a very, very few)!
Where do you get your songwriting inspiration from?
Coffee, landscapes and places, whiskey, people trying to connect with each other, bad poems, good books, being alone at night with a piano, being alone at night with a loud amplifier and an electric guitar, and the ocean.
How does that feel to release music on vinyl?
It feels amazing and very satisfying because there are all these tiny details on a very tangible 7 inches of vinyl. Jefferson Holt, head artistic king at Daniel 13 Press, who released “Car Song” and “Dream Lover,” convinced me that there’s really nothing like it. It’s a piece of artwork you can hold, and listen to, and look at. There are little secrets all over it from the grooves to the etched messages.
What’s your dream collaboration?
The Antarctic Artists & Writers Program. I want to be on a plane to McMurdo station. Or actually, preferably, I want to be getting off the plane once it has landed. The NSF has a small number of grants they give to artists to live and work on projects in Antarctica. I would like to do that.
Also, I’ve been so lucky to collaborate with such amazing musicians as part of tour-life with Big Star’s Third, that has been many dreams come true. Jody Stephens, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, Ken Vandermark—very dreamy to work with all of them.
Hopefully Australia! We just got back from tour earlier this year over there and I’m plotting a southern hemisphere return ASAP. Until then, I have a full-length record I’m finishing up with the amazing producer and petty thief Chris Stamey. It’s piano and strings and some very personal songs we got to track live at his studio, and Mitch Easter’s fantastic, glitter naugahyde and fuzz box equipped Fidelitorium. I’m a lucky lady
Photographed by Marie Killen
This Interview with Skylar Gudasz originally appeared in Cliché Magazine’s Oct/Nov 2014 issue