DEAD FOLK - Skylar Leaf makes Bad Feelings

DEAD FOLK is the musical project of  nineteen year old Portland-dweller, Skylar Leaf.  Leaf recently recorded a 10 song debut album called Bad Feelings, a collection of super droned out tunes. Some tracks are instrumental, some will have you wanting to head to the beach to catch some waves (even if you don't surf, it will make you want to surf) and others will make you feel like you should be hibernating in fetal position in a cave somewhere.  There is also a link to an exclusive free download of his song "Little Wing" available on Hook and Line's Facebook page, so make sure you get your hands on that too! ~Keba

Keba: Where are you from and who are you?… 

Dead Folk: My name is Skylar Leaf, I'm nineteen years old, I'm from California but as of now I live in Portland and I record music as Dead Folk.

K: When did you first pick up a guitar or start singing? What was it like? 

DF: I think I was somewhere around 16 years old when I first learned how to play guitar. I don't really know how it happened, I just decided one day that I wanted to learn guitar. I got really into it really fast and I felt like I had to play catch up with all the kids my age who played guitar and had been playing since they were like younger. I think the first time that I tried singing was the first time I recorded my self playing. I stole this tiny recorder from my high school and just sort of sat down and recorded Burn Rubber by Simon Joyner. It was like the only song I really knew how to play. I listen to occasionally, and its actually not that bad. I don't really consider myself a singer though. I only sing when it is necessary because I really hate the way my voice sounds. I kind of hide it. There aren't that many people who have heard me sing outside of my recordings…  

K: What was your earliest musical moment where you felt like "whoa, that was amazing", something that really struck a chord in you and made you want more?

DF: I saw a Deerhunter show a few years ago. I was crazy. In one night my entire perspective on music changed.

K: You go to art school too right? How does your visual art relate to your music (or do they relate at all)? Do the processes overlap?

DF: Yeah, haha. I do.

I'm a photography major so my music and my visual art exist in pretty separate worlds. I have a very visual memory though, a lot of times when I record I think of certain images or a color that goes along with my music. The communication between color and sound is something that I've been interested in. 

I guess they relate to each other every now and then. I catch myself zoning out and thinking about music during class if that counts. I try to keep them a separate and it doesn't always work. You know? Its kind of like…church and state or something , they are supposed to be divided but they just always end up getting all up in each other's business. If I didn't keep my music and art apart, everything would just become a giant cluster of useless shit though. And I wouldn't be able to make sense of it. There are so many thoughts and ideas in my head that sometimes I just don't know where to start and end up doing nothing. Its important that they balance each other out. 

K: How do you write a song?

DF: I'm not exactly sure how I write a song. Different things come if different waves I guess. Sometimes I'll start a song with just a drum beat or maybe a guitar part. Everything comes from different places and eventually find their way together. Lyrically, the songs come just come from my own thoughts and experiences. A song could be about something that happened in my past, something that will happen in the future or something that is happening right now. I try to keep my music from being overly literal though, its important to me that it keeps a certain level of ambiguity so that people can relate what they want to it.  

K: I like the name Dead Folk because I either think of people or the genre.  Which one did you intend/how did you get your name?

DF: Before Dead Folk I had been in a few bands and recorded music under different names but none of them ever really felt right. The morning after the band I used to be in broke up, I just woke up and it sort of came to me. I used to be in a pretty folky band in high school but that was sort of behind me when I started recording music as Dead Folk, so I thought that was sort of a funny coincidence. I guess its a plus that it can be interpreted in both ways. But if I am answering seriously, its supposed to mean actual dead people. When I think of the name, I picture dead pilgrims or something. 

K: What was the recording process like for Bad Feelings? 

DF: I think Bad Feelings was a sort of learning process for me in music and recording. When I moved up to Portland my roommate gave me a shitty version of Logic and I just sort of starting recording things in my room when no one was home. Before I knew it I was like, "Okay, I have a couple songs done. now what?" That was when I decided I actually wanted to follow through with it and record an album. 

The whole thing was a new experience for me because I was experimenting with new things like making my own drums and figuring out how to actually make things sound good in headphones. I think that the songs reflect the process that I recorded them in, to me they all sort of have a feeling of just figuring shit out or finding your place. Everything is murky and disorienting  like being underwater. There were the good parts and the bad parts of making it, but in the end its worth having something that you are satisfied with, which is something that comes along with discovering new things. The songs in Bad Feelings were recorded as I wrote them and as they progressed. After all the songs were recorded I decided that the album would sound best on cassette tapes, so I started making tapes and giving them away for free. 

K: What music are you listening to at the moment?

DF: There are so many that's hard to decide which ones to list. I just listened to Blood On The Tracks a few days ago. I've been listening to this band Tearjerker a lot, an also The Microphones, Teebs, Jeans Wilder, Vetiver, King Tuff, Avey Tare. I don't know, there are a lot. I have A.D.D with music.