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Gayle Skidmore’s Dutch treat

“They got excited about my Bob Ross painting night”

Gayle Skidmore has weathered The Netherlands.
Gayle Skidmore has weathered The Netherlands.

Singer/songwriter Gayle Skidmore describes herself as “a San Diego native, an East County girl.” She has long loved Sarita’s and La Posta, and says she basically grew up at the Living Room on El Cajon Boulevard. But more recently, she has immersed herself in a decidedly different culture.

“I have lived in The Netherlands for five years now,” says Skidmore, who is recording a new album, Hiraethean Echoes, in her new home. “I first visited in the fall of 2015, when I went to go see my then-boyfriend” — now her husband. “My first impression of The Netherlands was that it was very cold, both weather-wise and socially. I found it difficult to connect, as, unlike San Diego, people do not really chat with strangers. It’s a very different kind of life than what I was used to. I live very close to a lovely heather field, and there are lots of trails through the woods by the house. There are lots of quaint villages, and I really enjoy the vibe in the 9 Streets [neighborhood] in Amsterdam.”

It’s a long way from Spring Valley, where Skidmore grew up. She remembers her first official show at a café, age fourteen. “Afraid to look up from my little notebook of songs, I’m not sure how I made it through. The host of the evening made fun of my last name, which made me stubbornly decide not to take a stage name. I’m not sure why I ever felt like performing again, but I did.”

Weezer, Led Zeppelin, Lisa Loeb, Suzanne Vega, and Fiona Apple stirred her yen for writing. Her album The Golden West appeared in 2017, but the music she’s making overseas got a big boost from, of all things, a Dutch songwriting contest. “I was given a free day at Wisseloord Studios for my Groene Hart win, and was paired with Fieke van den Hurk as my engineer. I was given the option to work with a producer there, but chose to work with an engineer instead and crank out some piano tunes. All of the piano pieces were performed live, and so they have a different feel than some of my other recordings, where I’ll go back again and again to really perfect something. I like the raw feel of these tracks. Fieke was a joy to work with, and we ended up becoming friends. She is incredibly talented and enjoys looping her accordion. I love local and independent music, and feel like it’s more energizing to follow artists like that.”

Mind you, she’s still adapting to her new home. “The music scene seems to be more focused on Top 40 pop/singer-songwriter music. Food-wise, oh man. The Dutch really enjoy fried things like frikandel speciaal, a deep fried meat topped with raw onions, curry ketchup, and mayonnaise. I don’t do mayo. Traditional meals include things like stamppot, which is usually boiled kale and potatoes mashed together without much spice and sometimes topped by a sausage.”

“Many people I know have had the same friends since high school. They enjoy scheduling appointments months in advance with friends, and have many rules for social engagements. When I took the Inburgerings Examen, to get my status as a permanent resident, I had to learn the appropriate time to visit a friend, when to eat dinner, what to say on each special occasion, and many other rules. Thankfully, I’ve met some free spirits there, and I have awesome neighbors. They got excited about my Bob Ross painting night, where I dressed as Bob Ross and we all followed a tutorial, so I think they’re pretty cool.”

And she has kept busy. “For the past three years, I’ve been releasing a lot of tunes on Patreon. In 2019 and 2020, I released a song every week. My plan is to polish up all of these 104 tunes and add to them. I’ve divided them into albums, and will start with my Gills and Wings album, followed by a few new original Christmas tunes. The songs from Hiraethean Echoes are the first batch of these releases. Once I’m done with all 104, I’ll work on the next few hundred.”

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Gayle Skidmore has weathered The Netherlands.
Gayle Skidmore has weathered The Netherlands.

Singer/songwriter Gayle Skidmore describes herself as “a San Diego native, an East County girl.” She has long loved Sarita’s and La Posta, and says she basically grew up at the Living Room on El Cajon Boulevard. But more recently, she has immersed herself in a decidedly different culture.

“I have lived in The Netherlands for five years now,” says Skidmore, who is recording a new album, Hiraethean Echoes, in her new home. “I first visited in the fall of 2015, when I went to go see my then-boyfriend” — now her husband. “My first impression of The Netherlands was that it was very cold, both weather-wise and socially. I found it difficult to connect, as, unlike San Diego, people do not really chat with strangers. It’s a very different kind of life than what I was used to. I live very close to a lovely heather field, and there are lots of trails through the woods by the house. There are lots of quaint villages, and I really enjoy the vibe in the 9 Streets [neighborhood] in Amsterdam.”

It’s a long way from Spring Valley, where Skidmore grew up. She remembers her first official show at a café, age fourteen. “Afraid to look up from my little notebook of songs, I’m not sure how I made it through. The host of the evening made fun of my last name, which made me stubbornly decide not to take a stage name. I’m not sure why I ever felt like performing again, but I did.”

Weezer, Led Zeppelin, Lisa Loeb, Suzanne Vega, and Fiona Apple stirred her yen for writing. Her album The Golden West appeared in 2017, but the music she’s making overseas got a big boost from, of all things, a Dutch songwriting contest. “I was given a free day at Wisseloord Studios for my Groene Hart win, and was paired with Fieke van den Hurk as my engineer. I was given the option to work with a producer there, but chose to work with an engineer instead and crank out some piano tunes. All of the piano pieces were performed live, and so they have a different feel than some of my other recordings, where I’ll go back again and again to really perfect something. I like the raw feel of these tracks. Fieke was a joy to work with, and we ended up becoming friends. She is incredibly talented and enjoys looping her accordion. I love local and independent music, and feel like it’s more energizing to follow artists like that.”

Mind you, she’s still adapting to her new home. “The music scene seems to be more focused on Top 40 pop/singer-songwriter music. Food-wise, oh man. The Dutch really enjoy fried things like frikandel speciaal, a deep fried meat topped with raw onions, curry ketchup, and mayonnaise. I don’t do mayo. Traditional meals include things like stamppot, which is usually boiled kale and potatoes mashed together without much spice and sometimes topped by a sausage.”

“Many people I know have had the same friends since high school. They enjoy scheduling appointments months in advance with friends, and have many rules for social engagements. When I took the Inburgerings Examen, to get my status as a permanent resident, I had to learn the appropriate time to visit a friend, when to eat dinner, what to say on each special occasion, and many other rules. Thankfully, I’ve met some free spirits there, and I have awesome neighbors. They got excited about my Bob Ross painting night, where I dressed as Bob Ross and we all followed a tutorial, so I think they’re pretty cool.”

And she has kept busy. “For the past three years, I’ve been releasing a lot of tunes on Patreon. In 2019 and 2020, I released a song every week. My plan is to polish up all of these 104 tunes and add to them. I’ve divided them into albums, and will start with my Gills and Wings album, followed by a few new original Christmas tunes. The songs from Hiraethean Echoes are the first batch of these releases. Once I’m done with all 104, I’ll work on the next few hundred.”

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