In the world of music, certain songs have the power to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impact. Gayle‘s “abcdefu,” is one such song that has been making waves in the industry, recently passing a billion streams on Spotify. With its catchy melody and empowering lyrics, the track has become an anthem for those who have experienced heartbreak and want to reclaim their power.
Since releasing her first music just three years ago, Gayle has gone on to tour with the likes of Taylor Swift and P!nk, but stopped off at Montreal’s intimate Bar le Ritz for a headline show. Serena Yang caught up with her before the gig to chat about her crazy rise to fame.
You’ve been touring all over the place with Pink and Taylor Swift. And now you’re headlining your own tour. How has that all been?
It’s been so much fun. These past two years have been so chaotic, but it’s just been the best time ever. I feel so lucky to do everything I get to do.
Your career has fully exploded these past two years. Your song “ABCDEFU” has over a billion streams, with a “B.” A billion!
Yeah, it sounds crazy. It feels like if the 11-year-old me were told one day I’d put out a song that would get a billion streams, it would seem like something I made up as a little kid.
You wrote it when you were 16 and now you’re 19. It’s been three years and you also wrote it during the pandemic. So times have changed so much. Do you still feel connected to that song? Do you feel like you’ve grown past it?
I look at music in general, as capturing moments of time. You know, that’s what I think is so fun. I’m a very sentimental person. So when I get to hold onto a moment and it gets to exist somewhere sonically forever, that’s something I always find very interesting and exciting. And with that song, I really see it as, you know, I wrote that song when I was 16. I definitely don’t want that guy to fuck off anymore. Like it’s just, we’re so fine. Like so good. And that song is so much more than just being about him. You know, it’s changed my life in so many ways.
My big goal with music is to always evolve, to always be moving forward. So I would say I definitely have attempted to try and move forward sonically and evolve sonically from “ABC.” But that place, that song will always hold such a dear place in my heart.
I wrote that song in August of 2020. And I had it for a full year before I put it out. And so there’s also a time in my life where I just had “ABC” with me in my notes and nobody knew that song existed. And that was also a really innocent time because I was just really excited about life and music. And I was just really scared because I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to tour, be able to do music. And it’s insane. And even being 15 when the pandemic started. Like I was just like, “Oh God, like the world’s ending. Who knows about the freaking music industry, like what’s going to be happening?” So I just think about my best friend and I, we had such a fun time writing that song. We were just cracking up laughing with a friend of ours, Dave, and he’s such a genius. Like he’s so smart. And Sarah, my best friend, they’re just both geniuses and it was such a fun song to write. So I just think about capturing that moment of time and that time of my life being in quarantine and all of that. My best friend and I lived together during quarantine. We just wrote a bunch of songs together. It was a really, really innocent time. We just had no clue what that song was capable of doing. We just had no clue at all.
We were talking about this before the interview, but we’re the same age. I feel like when you’re 15 to 19, you really grow exponentially as a teenager, but then doing that in the pandemic is sort of a trippy thing, because you’re growing up and you can’t really do the things you’re supposed to do.
I’m curious to see even in like 10, 15 years how we’re all going to be affected by this isolation, you know, and it was a really terrifying experience. I was personally really scared. I even remember the feeling of going to the grocery store. Like the way I would hug my mom before she would leave to go to the grocery store and I wouldn’t see her for like a day or two. Like she would just be in her room. We were just so scared of everything. You know, I was also homeschooled and that was kind of hard for me sometimes because pre-pandemic too, my friends were just like going to high school and having all these life experiences or being out having all these friends. And I just felt alone and I was just making music and wondering if this music was ever going to work out. And people used to, and my brother, all of his friends used to make fun of me for doing music all the time. And I was like, no, I just love music.
So it’s weird. I remember turning 18 and 19 really hit me that I wasn’t 16 anymore. You know, cause I’m young. I’m not going to sit here and be like, I’m old, but I’m still not the youngest I can be. And that’s the first time I’m feeling it. Like, you know, like I don’t know about you, but I feel like time is passing quicker and I’m looking back being like, oh my God.
And people have to know, what’s Taylor Swift like?
Just like the nicest, funniest person ever. I mean, she saw me play this award show in Nashville for three minutes and she put me on her stadium tour. Wow.
And she asked me within five minutes of meeting her if I tour and basically asked if I opened up for people and asked me what I was doing next year. She didn’t know me at all. She could have just been like, Hey kid, good job. And she also was complimentary of what I’ve done in my past and was like giving me something to do with my future. Also, her fan base has been so welcoming and just had such open arms. It’s been a really beautiful year and an incredible experience for me. And even like we were at award shows together and she would sit next to me and I was like, what are you doing? What? Like, she just took the time to care to get to know me and was so nice to me on tour. Like if I ever needed anything, I always had it.
And then once the ticket sales and everything came and she added more shows, she put me on some more shows, which she also didn’t have to do, you know. We had five shows, and that was incredible. And then we had 15 and she put us on with such sick direct support. Like she put us on the two Paramore dates.
Touring with all these amazing female musicians and P!nk, of course, was there any piece of advice or any lessons you learned from them?
I mean, in general, they both have such a beautiful way of making a big venue feel so small, feel connected. And each show there’s always something special. Taylor did a beautiful job on each show. Like there’s a new or surprise song, and there’s something that you get new. And there’s a new person that gets to get the hat, you know?
And with P!nk, she’ll just say anything on stage. She’s hilarious. Like, she’ll have people throw things on stage, and she’ll just like, if you draw her, if you make her a jacket, and she asks you to throw it on stage, she’ll wear it for like a few songs. And she actually keeps things, and she does things not for people to talk about it, but like on my birthday, she got me a birthday cake and invited me to her green room and sang me happy birthday with and got me the best birthday cake I’ve ever had in my life. It was a cookie butter blackberry. It was incredible.
She’s just so funny, and they’re both so smart, talented individuals. It was really, really inspiring to be able to work with them.
What have been your favourite fan interactions on this tour?
Oh my God. There was this little girl, and I think by the fourth or fifth song, she was in the front, and she started crying. And I first thought like, Oh God, she’s standing so close to the stage. Like, it’s too loud, and she’s overwhelmed because that’s overstimulating. And I could say she’s probably like nine, ten, maybe eight. Like, she was young, but she wasn’t too young either. So I was like, Oh my God, are you okay? Like, do you need headphones or something? Because we have kits here. She’s like, No, I’m good. She just watched it all. And I was like, sweet. And I have this song called ‘Snow Angels.’ It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written. And she started crying during that song. And I was like, that’s so sweet.
And then there’s somebody yesterday who gave me this bag of like Canadian-themed things. I have the Canadian flag, I have a hat with the Canadian flag on it. I performed with it yesterday. I was like waving the flag around. I have like a bunch of snacks. I have like “warning moose crossing” signs and stuff. And they made mugs, custom printed mugs for Dylan and I. It’s so cute.
Watch the full interview below:
Interview & photos – Serena YangShare this :