Not Just a Lemonade Stand

Skating Polly Interview & Galleries, Part 2

The Interview

The first time I heard Skating Polly, Justin Hogan was play­ing their first album, and I thought to myself, Why are chip­munks singing in the other room?

Alicia Goad, on hear­ing that I would be inter­view­ing Skating Polly

The Interview

Concluding our Skating Polly inter­view, step­sis­ters Peyton Bighorse and Kelli Mayo talk about meet­ing musi­cal heroes, music as a career, and bal­anc­ing life and work.

We’ve also got pics from their Record Store Day con­cert at Guestroom Records in Norman, plus some images from their Blackwatch Stage set at the sixth annual Norman Music Festival — you can view both gal­leries by tap­ping either of the “Gallery” tabs, above.

Mercury Photo BureauSXSW — you just played there. Pretty excit­ing. But, I’ve talked to other bands who’ve played down there, and I know it can also be a real crap­shoot, because there are so many other bands play­ing, and get­ting noticed is really hard. How do you think you were received?

Peyton BighorseI feel like peo­ple liked us a lot, who saw us. We — it was really busy. We had, like, seven shows, and we actu­ally for­got our equip­ment, like, more than once. It was — we lost our drum seat down there; we didn’t lose any­thing else, which was cool, but it was — it was really busy, and it was excit­ing. It was really tiring.

Kelli MayoWe got to meet two of our biggest rôle mod­els ever — we met Lori Barbero, from Babes in Toyland, and then we met Jody Stephens from Big Star.

MPBI was lis­ten­ing a playlist of recently acquired music, a cou­ple of weeks back, so, of course, Lost Wonderfuls was on it. And it was set to shuf­fle, so I didn’t know what song was going to come up next. I was actu­ally in my office work­ing with the music play­ing in the back­ground, and your song Kick started play­ing, and I thought, Oh, a Kimya Dawson song I don’t rec­og­nize. And then I real­ized it wasn’t a Kimya Dawson song; it was you guys. So, was that a delib­er­ate nod to the Moldy Peaches?

BighorseNo, it wasn’t. It was more like — I don’t know; when­ever we first recorded it, the demo ver­sion — which still sounds like the album ver­sion, but not exactly the same — it was more like an Elliott Smith thing, but I did my vocals dif­fer­ently. I feel like I did them softer on the demo ver­sion than on the actual ver­sion. So, it was orig­i­nally sup­posed to be like an Elliott Smith thing, but it changed on the album because we didn’t record it in the same, exact way.

Peyton (II)
Peyton (II) — Skating Polly Record Store Day 2013 Performance, Guestroom Records

MPBYour vocal pro­duc­tion — your singing style. It takes a lot of energy to do that, but, if you don’t do it right, you can really wreck your voice. Are you guys tak­ing any pre­cau­tions to pre­vent blow­ing out your vocal cords when you sing, or are you just tak­ing your chances? [laugh­ter]

BighorseNo, we’re kind of just tak­ing our chances. We sometimes —

MayoWe drink tea, a lot. It’s pretty much all we do.

BighorseSometimes after shows, we’ll like, be like, sore … for a cou­ple of days.

MayoBut, like, when we’re on tour, we have to, like, not do that; like, a good rule of thumb when­ever we’re singing is try to sing, like, from down here [ges­tures to abdomen], and not from, like, in your throat. That’s how you can, like, scrape up your vocal cords. Exene [Cervenka] said she never knew exactly how to not, you know, lose your voice; she says, It’s not like you can sing less on some songs, […] and you should just sing from down here instead of your throat […].

MPBA lot’s been said about how young the band is [Sidenote: Kelli is thir­teen; Peyton is sev­en­teen. The band started when they were nine and thir­teen, respec­tively.] , and, so, you’ve got a lot of years ahead of you of doing this. What are you doing to pro­tect your hear­ing dur­ing the shows?

BighorseUm, we really haven’t done anything.


MPBWell, maybe now that I’ve put the thought in your head, you will. I want to be able to keep lis­ten­ing to you for years to come, and that’s gonna depend on you guys being able to hear yourselves.

It’s been a long time since I heard really young musi­cians with such energy, atti­tude, con­fi­dence and social con­scious­ness. What a breath of air.

MPBDid I read some­where — I think I wrote this in my notes this morn­ing — didn’t Rosanne Cash have some­thing nice to say about you guys?

BighorseShe said, basi­cally, that she just really likes us. [turn­ing to Kelli] Do you remem­ber the exact quote?

MayoShe said, in sum­mary, she called us a breath of fresh air.

MPBAny idea how she found out about you guys?

BighorseThrough Exene. Her and Exene are friends. And then, Exene’s ex-hus­band, Viggo Mortensen said we were just, like, lit­tle geniuses.

MPBI have to tell you, after hav­ing you send me your song lyrics — because it’s not always easy to hear them dur­ing a show — I have to agree. [laugh­ter] There’s some bril­liant stuff in here. […] There are a cou­ple of lines in [the song] Lost Wonderfuls that really struck me. This is Kelli’s lyric: So once you’re sick/​yeah, I’ll nurse you well/​and once you’re well/​yeah, I’ll be in Hell. And then this: So once you’re lost/I’ll take you home/​and once you’re found/I’ll be alone. What was going through your head when you wrote that?

MayoI really don’t know. Sometimes, I try to just tell sto­ries, and other times, you know, it just sounds good, like how it just comes out of your mouth, and it sound smooth, and it sounds nice, and you put it out there. And some­times, when­ever I’m writ­ing songs, I’ll just give it a theme, like, I won’t nec­es­sar­ily have a story, but I’ll just have, like, an image in my head, and I’ll try to put that into words.

Kelli (III)
Kelli (III) — Skating Polly Record Store Day 2013 Performance, Guestroom Records

You know, we try to make our lyrics inter­est­ing, and not typ­i­cal — what you’d expect from a teen band or a kid band; we try to go more — we try to go beyond that, if we can. […] Sometimes, I really don’t know what I mean in my lyrics; some­times I try to talk about what other peo­ple go through. […] And, then, other times, I don’t nec­es­sar­ily know what my lyrics mean until later, and then I’ll be like, Oh, wow, I kind of under­stand this more; it could mean this; it could mean that. I think it was Kurt Cobain who said his lyrics might mean one thing to him, and then some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent to some­one else. [We searched for this quo­ta­tion, but couldn’t find it — Ed.] So, I guess [the lyric] was kind of a scene of, like, betrayal, but it wasn’t really like I knew exactly what I was talk­ing about or like I was […] going through that.

Hard to believe two so young have writ­ten and per­formed songs this strong and wise. Make way, make way, the future is here. Brains and heart to spare. Little geniuses.

Viggo Mortensen

MPB[…] I’ve heard from other musi­cians that they write like that, too; and those are the ones who — I find their lyrics a lot more intrigu­ing than just straight­for­ward, plod­ding nar­ra­tive. I really appre­ci­ate that you go for this kind of poetic lan­guage; and you do that, too, Peyton. Is there a par­tic­u­lar song that you’re really proud of?

BighorseOf the songs I’ve writ­ten, I really like Kick. Because, usu­ally, I’ll write […] songs that sound angry […], and I like that, but it’s just […] refresh­ing to not do that, and that’s what Kick was for me.

MPBHow did you choose the band name?

Mayo[…] A lot of things […] went through my head, but, in the end, it was a really quick deci­sion, but, it had … a lot of thought … I don’t know; it was a bunch of dif­fer­ent rea­sons — I guess one of the rea­sons was because we wanted some­thing that stood for both of us, you know, like Kelli and Peyton; so “K” for Kelli and “P” for Peyton. We were try­ing to, like, think of words, so … we thought, like, Skating Polly; orig­i­nally, we had the “K” cap­i­tal­ized for Kelli (and “P” for Peyton, obviously).

But that wasn’t the only thing that went into that. I also wanted some­thing that would seem […] kind of juve­nile, so that peo­ple would be like, Oh, what’s this? It’d be like singing their ABCs or some­thing, you know, but when­ever they actu­ally got [to our show], they could actu­ally [see what we were about]. But I also wanted some­thing that wouldn’t seem like it would just last for now, you know; it would — like, I didn’t want to put, like, oh, “The Kid Pollies” or some­thing like that. I wanted some­thing that would last […].

I love school, but this is our dream and a real goal. This isn’t just a lemon­ade stand. This is some­thing we are going to be doing forever.

MPBIn an inter­view I read in the Gazette, Kelli said that the band was not just a lemon­ade stand for you 2; it’s a career. That’s such an adult way, not just of look­ing at it, but of phras­ing it.

MayoI don’t know, I mean, me and Peyton don’t ever want to stop doing [this], because, this is really the only thing that we see us — you know, this is the only thing we really, really, really like, like this. I mean, we both love art, and we both love just mak­ing stuff […], but there’s some­thing about mak­ing music, and there’s some­thing about being on stage, and all the lit­tle … fac­tors […] that […] make us love it […]. We love being on the road; we love record­ing and we love mak­ing art for it. […] We […] love every thing about it. So, yeah; this is […] what we’re gonna be doing, prob­a­bly, for the rest of our lives. And see­ing peo­ple like Exene and, you know, the peo­ple from Dead Moon, and the Flaming Lips, even; they just ded­i­cate their lives to, like, art and music. And they just keep doing it for­ever and ever and ever, and they never stop. And that’s […] what we want to do.

I mean, it might seem weird that we’re say­ing this at such a young age — well, Peyton’s not really that young; she’s grad­u­at­ing this year — I mean, in sev­enth grade, I think I have it all fig­ured out, but I’m not nec­es­sar­ily say­ing that; I’m say­ing that, right now where [we are], I don’t see us doing any­thing else with our lives; this is really the […] thing we’re ded­i­cated to.

MPBAny plans to con­tinue with school after you graduate?

BighorseNo; not really.

MPBDo you see your­self step­ping into some of the busi­ness respon­si­bil­i­ties, once you guys are old enough?

BighorseWell, we actu­ally are — we have an LLC, which our par­ents are on because we’re minors. But we do a lot of the busi­ness stuff.

MPBYou guys put a lot of energy and time into this. You prob­a­bly are more … ded­i­cated to this than … a lot of adults are. It mys­ti­fies me how you guys find the time to do that and keep up with school […]. So, do you guys reserve any time for things, out­side of music, that might bring you pleasure?

Bighorse[…] Most of the time, we will go home, and if we have any home­work, if I have time, I’ll do it before Kelli gets home. But, we like to prac­tice, and then, we’ll stay up doing our home­work. Except, on Saturdays, I always reserve time to watch Doctor Who.

Finale (I)
Finale (I) — Skating Polly Plays the 6th Annual Norman Music Festival (Blackwatch Stage)

We don’t really have a lot of free time to just do what we want; like, we — we get out of the house some­times, but most of the time we’re just at our house doing home­work and Skating Polly […].

MPBDo you get to hang out with your friends?

BighorseMy friends are pretty much, like — I have a friend in school, her name is […], [Sidenote: We’ve with­held Peyton’s friend’s name to main­tain her pri­vacy.] and I hang out with her every once in a while, but, other than that, my friends are pretty much Kelli, and then my fam­ily, and then Kliph [Scurlock]. I have other friends, but not really good friends that actu­ally I hang out with. So, when­ever we’re close in town, we’ll go and eat din­ner with [Kliph], and then I’m always hang­ing out with Kelli.

MPBDuring one of the breaks, some­one men­tioned that the Indianapolis gig on your cur­rent tour’s final leg was can­celled because you were too young to be in the venue under Indiana law — so, do you want to tell me what happened?

BighorseI don’t know; I guess it’s just a law they have in Indianapolis that they don’t have in Oklahoma. Minors can’t actu­ally play shows in bars even if they just, like, leave after­wards. So we can’t play that show, since it was in a bar.

The show [was sched­uled for] this Tuesday. We’re just gonna have a free day.

MPBThank you guys so much for com­ing down. 

Video Interview

The Video Interview

Presenting a new, and, we hope, ongo­ing fea­ture, Mercury Photo Bureau teamed up with direc­tor Mike Walsh to video-record the Skating Polly Interview for his Rev Hi-Fi video series. See more Rev Hi-Fi here.

Skating Polly — The Mercury Photo Bureau Interview

Gallery 1 (Record Store Day)

Record Store Day

A​week before the sixth Annual Norman Music Festival, Skating Polly per­formed a short, but enger­getic, set for Record Store Day at the Norman Guestroom Records. Fans crowded into the long, nar­row space for a glimpse of the high-spir­ited teenagers. Local hip-hop artist Jabee Williams joined them for a cou­ple of songs before­hand, hav­ing just fin­ished his own set.

Playlist from Skating Polly’s 2013 Record Store Day per­for­mance at Guestroom Records

Gallery 2 (NMF6)

Norman Music Festival 6

Appearing on the Blackwatch Studios Stage for Norman Music Festival 6, Peyton and Kelli drew a large and enthu­si­as­tic crowd for their 10 P.M. show.

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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