Skylar Gudasz is one of those songwriters that can be appreciated on many levels. On the surface, she writes really great songs. If you’re one to dissect what you’re listening to, you’ll quickly notice her knack for beautiful yet left-field melodies and clever lyrics. Take her 2016 album Oleander, produced by legendary North Carolina musician Chris Stamey, for example. It's an addictive collection of high quality indie rock-meets-Americana, and every song is an absolute earworm.
The same can certainly be said about Gudasz’s latest single, “Play Nice” - taken from her forthcoming Oleander follow-up, set for release this year. The song is a slight sonic departure from her previous effort, but still brilliantly displays the powerful and emotive song craft that she’s become known for.
The Virginia-born, North Carolina-based artist has earned high praise for her work. Over the past several years, she’s become a major part of the music community in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and has played a significant role in Stamey’s acclaimed series of all-star shows celebrating the music of Big Star’s Third.
Music has always been a part of Gudasz’s life, having come from a musical family and started writing songs at a young age.
“I sang my first words, so writing songs is something I’ve always done since I can earliest remember,” she tells Connect ahead of her March 9 showcase at Savannah Stopover Music Festival. “I ended up joining a bunch of bands and getting into rock and roll, and never looked back.”
Going the solo route was natural for Gudasz, who released Oleander to critical acclaim after spending a good deal of time working closely with Stamey to achieve the album’s unique production and sound.
“He just so deeply cared about all aspects of it,” she says of Stamey’s work on the album. “He’s very dialed in to all of the potential possibilities down to the very minute details.”
Her writing process is fairly open-ended, with most of the work done before it’s time to record but allowing for edits and changes to happen organically in the studio.
“It’s continuing to be written until it’s recorded. Before I come to the studio I finish the form and the lyrics, and there’s a pretty finished map of where things are going to go. Arrangements are more open-ended before I go into the studio,” she says.
“I write a lot at night - that’s when I do my most connected writing. I have to have lots of time to give the song what the space that it needs. Sometimes it comes really fast, and sometimes you get a glimpse of it and it finishes itself later on. And then sometimes it takes years for the song to get to where it wants to go.
“I also write a lot while I’m doing other things - walking, or anything where my hands or my body are physically occupied,” she adds. “Somehow that makes it easier for my mind to go to this meditative place.”