Hayden Skaggs released his "Thistill" EP last night, Aug. 30, and to celebrate performed at Sherman Perk coffee shop in Milwaukee along with four other talented singer-songwriters. Max Bachochin, Marco Jaimez, Doug Fenske and Sarah Jo Helgeson opened the show for Hayden and each musician brought their unique gift of music to the cause. I spoke with Hayden before the show to catch a glimpse into what's going on musically in his world. Skaggs intends to keep up his momentum and begin work on his next project, a full length album.
John Schulze: I'd love for you to tell me a bit of your story as a musician. How did you arrive at being a singer-songwriter ?
Hayden Skaggs: I first got into music on my 15th birthday, when my dad brought home an old Mark II drum kit from work that someone had thrown out. It clicked instantly. Rhythm came very naturally. I progressed over the next two years into my first musical love, death metal. Don't get me wrong, I still love drumming metal, but it has definitely taken a wayside to singing and songwriting. My original songwriting inspiration was Marcus Mumford and "Little Lion Man" was the song that made me fall in love with folk music. When I first heard the song I thought it was pretty dumb, if it wasn't heavy I wasn't listening to it. But, for some reason, it eventually caught my ear. I eventually listened to the album "Sigh No More" on repeat for about 6 months straight, mainly because I didn't know any other folk music. I decided to pick up the guitar in December of my senior year of high school. A talent show was posed and I figured I'd give singing a shot as well. I was utterly shocked when I ended up winning. That remains one of the best nights of my life and when I realized that music was what I wanted to do with my life. Over the next two months I wrote and self-recorded probably the worst EP in existence (laughs). I don't even include it in my discography. I maintain only 2 copies just to remind myself where I started and that I can always improve.
JS: Can you tell me about the songs on your "Thistill" EP and how it came to be ?
HS: I took a short musical hiatus from July-December of 2013, due to the fact that I was in army training. I came back with a fire within me. I started gigging for the first time in March of 2014 and quickly began writing what I consider my debut EP. I recorded the whole EP in one day at 608 studios with Derek Moffat. I'm pretty damn proud of it as I played all the instruments and did all vocals, everything minus one guitar part, in just one take. So what I ended up with is a truly musically raw album. I think that's something a lot of people don't do these days, but I'm a huge fan of doing it as such. I wrote three of the songs about a girl that I'd been in love with for going on three years. I actually only just got over that. Songs about that will be on my upcoming full length album. But other than that, I had to cover "Whiskey In The Jar," it's one of my favorite songs of all time. As for "A Walk With My Friends," I really wanted to write something for my fellow veterans, and that one just kind of flowed out of me. That one definitely has a special place in my heart.
JS: You played Summerfest for the first time this year, what did you take away from that experience ?
HS: As for Summerfest, I couldn't have been more honored than I was to share the stage with such incredible musicians. Dan Rodriguez and Nora Collins, to name a few. I gained a solid start, collecting over 100 names for my mailing list.
JS: What are some of your plans and hopes for the future, short term and long term ?
HS: As of late I've been gigging around Milwaukee and writing my first full-length album, which I'm set to record this November and December with a release in February. I also just finished planning a house concert tour for this March, but I'm not quite releasing details on that just yet. All in all, I'm ridiculously excited for the release of my "Thistill EP" and am very much looking forward to recording and releasing my full length album, "Uallas." I'm simply trying to take every step I think necessary to get recognized on a national and international level. It's a slow game, but I'm in it for the long haul!
You can catch up with all things Hayden Skaggs on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud. You can purchase Hayden's "Thistill" EP at his Bandcamp website, iTunes or Amazon. You can also hear Hayden on Spotify.