All the Parts: An Interview with Skye Wallace

SkyePhoto24-year-old, Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Skye Wallace describes her upcoming album, L I V I N G || P A R T S, as ‘bold’ and ‘tragic.’ “It’s an album about things hidden in plain sight. Forgotten things. Dead things,” Wallace says.

L I V IN G || P A R T S is also a compilation of concepts and stories that derive from Canadian history. With a timeline that spans over one-hundred years, each song on the album is a story told from a different character’s perspective.

Wallace says she hardly ever sings about herself. She likes to become other characters and tell their stories through her music. She comes from a long line of storytellers; it is a huge part of her Newfoundlander/Scottish heritage.

On L I V I N G || P A R T S, Wallace sings about the invisible people of the past: the humans that don’t often get written about – the women whose voices were never able to be heard.

Wallace says her favourite song on the album is “Middle Class Ontario”, which is probably not everyone’s typical choice, but she just loves it! It’s about a teenage girl caught in stagnant, middle-class Ontario in the mid-1980s.

Other songs on the album are set in the prairies, in rural Alberta, and in the Yukon, and capture the voices and struggles of women of all different ages.

One song that is extremely important to Wallace is “Monster”, which explores Canada’s problematic history of institutionalizing people with disabilities. Her goal with it is to draw some light to a past that is often covered up and to address residual problems in the present by looking to that past.

History has always really interested Wallace, especially Canadian history and all the stories and details that are deliberately buried or lost. “This country is so interesting, and so weird!”

She hopes her songs will evoke emotions and curiosity in people and that her listeners may even be inspired to do their own research on the particular issue or time period.

Wallace often receives compliments on her beautiful, soulful voice, which is nice, but whenever someone comes up to her after a show or after hearing her music for the first time, and they tell her that her songs made them ‘feel things’, it’s huge. It’s when she knows she has accomplished her goal. One compliment that Wallace remembers fondly was at a music festival last summer. A guy came up to her after her set and said, “That scared the shit out of me.” He thought it was so intense and beautiful, he didn’t know how to react.

Wallace describes the sound of her first album Bison Bison (2011) as raw and gritty and spontaneous. On it, she used a lot of ‘found sound,’ whereas her second album This Is How We Go (2013) was a lot prettier and cleaner with a full, big studio sound.

With L I V I N G || P A R T S, Wallace describes the evolution of finding her happy medium. She didn’t want the album to be terribly pretty, but she still wanted that big, voluptuous sound.

She says the songs on L I V I N G || P A R T S are not typical or trendy. But so far, people have liked what they’ve heard.

Wallace has released three songs from her upcoming album: “Carry Our Son”, “Klondike”, and  “Dead Things Pt. II”, which is the sequel to a song on her previous album. And ironically, it is the song that carries the inspiration for her new album title.

To hear the rest of the album, join Skye Wallace at the Biltmore Cabaret on Saturday, April 12, for the official Vancouver release of
L I V I N G || P A R T S. It’s an early show with a curfew, but for you, Wallace hopes to sing her way through all of the parts.

Tickets are available at Highlife Records, Zulu Records, and Red Cat Records.