- Words Lucy O'Brien
After curating the ultimate break up anthem, pop sensation Gayle talks friendship, TikTok stardom and her musical journey so far.
A 17-year-old American singer-songwriter turned overnight pop sensation, it’s safe to say that Dallas-hailing, Nashville-based GAYLE has been the artist on everyone’s lips (and TikTok For You Pages) as of late. And there’s no doubt that 2022 is looking even brighter for the young star.
You’ll probably recognise her hit single “abcdefu”” – if you don’t, where have you been? – which went viral on TikTok after its release in August 2021. The single’s fearless and empowering “fuck you” message to her ex set against an infectious indie-pop beat sits among the greats as an iconic break-up anthem.
Following a stream of self-released singles such as “dumbass” and “orange peel”, “abcdefu” was the singer’s debut single under a major label.
And after racking up a whopping two million sound features on TikTok, the song has hit number one on Billboard’s Global Charts and has been streamed over 356 million times to date. The singer has already been named as YouTube’s ‘Artist on the Rise’ and featured by Billboard as ‘One To Watch’, not to mention having appeared as a guest on Jimmy Fallon. A show that celebrates the brightest and most successful stars in the industry, GAYLE certainly fits this criterion.
Despite an already impressive portfolio already under her belt, GAYLE isn’t stopping any time soon. Her new EP, ‘a study of the human experience volume one’, has just dropped today. Following suit from her hit single, the EP further captures the technicolour of interpersonal relationships inspired by her own experiences.
Notion caught up with the internet sensation to talk all things TikTok fame, exes, and her road to stardom.
Your hit single “abcdefu” took TikTok by storm and hit no. 1 on both Billboard Global Charts – how did it feel to have your single soar to the top of global charts so rapidly?
It’s an exciting and scary feeling. It’s exciting to have the work you put into your craft be acknowledged and accepted, but it’s also a nerve-racking thing to have more people pay attention to me than before the song was released.
The song has been used all over social media as the ultimate break-up anthem – what inspired the lyrics?
My ex-boyfriend lol.
Your single has been featured in two million TikTok clips – how did you react when you saw people on the platform interacting with your song for the first time?
It was so exciting. I refused to believe that more than five people were paying attention to my song but seeing so many people, in real-time, make videos to my song helped me process it.
What’s your favourite kind of TikTok to watch with your song in it?
People flipping off the camera in family photos.
Talk me through your creative process when writing and recording a track. How did “abcdefu” come into fruition?
Dave Pittenger walked in with the idea of “abcde fuck off” and Sara Davis and I absolutely fell in love with the concept.
Your upcoming EP – ‘a study of the human experience volume one’ – seems to centre around your interpersonal relationships and the teenage experience. What was the inspiration behind the EP and are the lyrics drawn from your personal experiences?
The EP is completely inspired by my life and my personal experiences and the personal experiences of the co-writers and producers as well.
The final track on the EP, “kiddie pool”, is slower and more ballad-like than the rest of your tracks. What was it like exploring a different facet of your sound in recording this track? Why did you choose to end the EP on this song?
I wrote “kiddie pool” when I was 15, so if anything, the other songs on the EP are more of an exploration of my sound than it. I wanted to write a song about wanting to fall in love with someone and letting that person know because it is a vulnerable and scary thing to do. I wanted to capture that moment in time through music.
Which song on the EP did you have the most fun recording and why?
They were all a pain in my ass to get done and the most fun at the same time in their own ways.
What was it like meeting Jimmy Fallon and that being your first ever TV debut?
It was a surreal experience. I felt like I was sleepwalking the whole time.
You have a very distinctive sound and identity at such a young age – who are your musical/style inspirations and how have they influenced your identity as a musician?
Aretha Franklin has always been an inspiration for me ever since I was a kid. Recently, Alanis Morrissette became an inspiration. And, of course, the love of all of our lives, Julia Michaels.
Your aesthetic is very much associated with the colour orange and you’ve previously described it as a personality trait of yours – why is it your favourite colour?
I think it’s just a really beautiful colour. I’m not totally sure why otherwise.
What was the inspiration behind the music video for “abcdefu”? A lot of the scenes are self-shot; how involved were you with the production?
I wanted a specific vibe to be captured, which is me hanging out with my friends, and I wanted to live out my dreams of breaking into my ex-boyfriend’s house.
You’ve been no stranger to music and song-writing from a very young age – how did you first get into music? When did you decide to pursue it as a career?
I don’t know if there’s a time that I can pinpoint when I decided to start doing music professionally but when I was seven I decided that I wanted to sing for the rest of my life.
How has Kara DioGuardi shaped your musical journey? What was it like being discovered so young by such an influential name in the industry?
I wouldn’t to be the writer I am without Kara. She has taught me a lot about songwriting.
The EP is called ‘volume one’ – is it then safe to assume that we can expect more music from you to come in the near future?
You’re embarking on a series of intimate concerts – do you prefer the intimacy of small gigs over the idea of huge arenas / stadiums?
I find both exciting. Performing in front of crowds whether they are small or big but there are difficulties that come with both. For now, I want to do smaller shows because I love the feeling of everyone in a small space rocking out together.