Skye Wallace: Canada's Feistiest Female Rocker
Songwriter? Or performer? When you’re highly skilled at both like multi-talented Toronto-based rocker SKYE WALLACE, which do you choose if you had to be known for just one?
“That’s really a tough one,” said Wallace, who is regularly cited as one of Canada’s best new female artists and whose last album Something Wicked was named one of the best albums of 2016 by Vancouver Weekly. “I do feel very alive when I’m performing, and to be able to do that continually would definitely be a good thing. However, songwriting and the words and the conveyance of the emotions put into songs are kind of the reason I started doing this in the first place, so I’d have to say songwriting.”
With her self-titled new full-length album set for release June 7th, fans new and old will have a chance to witness the power and glory of both her skills as a songwriter and her chops as a performer. The first two singles released from the album – the punk-infused “Coal In The Window” and the more recent female-empowerment anthem “There Is A Wall” – illustrate both the broad diversity of her musical influences and her willingness to tackle social issues with heartfelt passion.
“I was always a fan of The Weatherthans, specifically John K. Samson,” said Wallace, whose firebrand vocal hybrid seamlessly fuses folk, rock and bursts of punk fury. “His songwriting was hugely impactful in how I created my sound over the years. But also Patty Smith influences and the way she kind of introduced poetry into her punk rock vibe. I’m all over the map, even going into Neil Young territory.”
The social activism often inspired by artists like Smith and Young have certainly inspired Wallace’s latest track “There Is a Wall,” a song of empowerment that Wallace says is “an anthem lamenting the glass ceiling and the frustration of women trying to strive toward greatness throughout history.” While she acknowledges there’s still a long way to go, Wallace suggests that things are improving as more women and individuals unite in their efforts to encourage change.
“There has been a growing unity with women and marginalized groups that have been kept down so long, and who face these proverbial walls. The unity has been in the fire to try and change things. And what I’m hearing more and more, especially this year with things being the way they are, there’s a sense of fatigue or frustration. Everyone’s tired of fighting. But I do think that there is a unity and a fire to try to keep going and make changes, and that’s incredibly powerful.”
Those changes are also happening in the music industry itself, where female artists like Wallace often get marginalized or omitted from the narrowly-defined “rock” playlists despite the rage in their vocals and the power in their music.
“That’s definitely an issue, but I see a lot of people who are involved in that side of the industry who want to help facilitate that change. I do feel hugely supported by a lot of people who have heard the song or the record who want to help me to take up space in that kind of rock realm and I’m kind of stoked about that. It’s a pretty male-dominated genre, but it’s cool to hear that it’s happening.”
The one place where an artist with Wallace’s talents is in complete control, however, is on a stage, and that's where interested indie music fans will find her at The Warehouse June 14th opening up for Ron Hawkins. After spending a good part of the last year recording the new album, Wallace is eager to take the show on the road.
“These days with the live band and the live show, we’ve kind of settled in and it’s become so fun and invigorating. I love my band. The energy we can band together and create together feels so good, especially with the new songs. We tend to keep the energy high.”
As for what success looks like with the release of the new record, Wallace is setting realistic expectations.
“With this record, I’m so proud of the result. I don’t have specific expectations. I just want to put it out and have people hear it. Regardless of what happens, I’m going to work hard to get it out there in whatever avenue that takes. I’m just really excited and I want to run with the moment as it comes.”
Learn more about Skye Wallace at https://www.skyewallace.com/.
Photo credit: John Packman
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