Matt Walsh and Majel Connery of Sky Creature / Photo: Noah Kalina
Sky Creature describes themselves as “a euphoric collision of post-punk, trance, and deconstructed opera.” The Rockaway Beach, Queens-based duo features classically trained Majel Connery on vocals and synths alongside the punk and rock raised Matt Walsh on guitar. The resulting sound is a magical alchemy of opposites: weightless vocals set against a raging sea of manic guitars and driving beats. They’ll be stopping through town on Tuesday, Oct. 12, for a Trillium Salon from 7-9 p.m. inside the garage of Likewise Community in downtown Fayetteville. Both seated and standing room tickets are available here.
Describe the amalgamation of Sky Creature and what you’re all about.
Majel: Matt and I have actually known each other for around 20 years. The first time I ever stood in front of a microphone in a recording studio, it was with Matt. That was how we met and we stayed in touch over the years. In 2019 the major project in my life ended and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. Around the same time a huge project of Matt’s came to a close. We both became free around the same time, maybe serendipitously. Although I was living in California I was visiting New York a lot, where Matt’s lived all his life. So we just started jamming. And it wasn’t necessarily something that bore fruit right away. We had to kind of chip away at the sound and the working methods for a while before it started to spark fire a little bit.
Matt: I love the contrast between Majel’s voice and how intense the music is. I thought that there was this really awesome dichotomy between the gentleness and peacefulness and the wildness, and how insane it was. We’re still in the process of becoming clearer about how these things fit together. We just feel like once we sort of cracked the code and everything opened up.
Who: Sky Creature
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12
Where: Likewise Community, 70 N. College Ave.
Tickets: Both seated and standing room tickets available online.
Majel: Sky Creature is sort of this jarring juxtaposition of somebody with a lot of classical and opera training with someone who’s inhabited a much more punk and rock centric world. It took us about a year to really shape it. On a day to day level it really looks like kind of banging your head against the wall in a way. Matt is lucky enough to have a recording studio that basically functions as our rehearsal space where we would just plug in and make noise and try try try and try and try again. Sometimes we would do something and it wouldn’t be particularly productive and then we’d go away and think about it and come back the next day and be like, what if we tried it like this. I credit Matt with pushing me to do stuff that I was way too scared to think I could ever do that has had a very liberating function for me vocally, and has meant that art music can be both extreme and beautiful at the same time, which is really freaking cool.
You’re based at Rockaway Beach in Queens – with a recording studio that’s also your practice space. Tell us more about the environment.
Majel: It’s an incredible tool for us because unlike a lot of bands who rent a rehearsal space will play in, maybe, the drummer’s basement. They’re in a crappy acoustic environment with sub-optimal equipment. We have access to state-of-the-art recording, with amazing equipment.
And so while we’re even rehearsing, we have the opportunity to check in with how we want things to sound eventually, when we record. That predictive power gives us the ability to shape our sound in ways that eliminates the possibility of surprise for us down the road. Like, we’re always thinking to ourselves while we’re rehearsing.
Matt: One thing that’s really interesting that I think we decided really early on, was, our music is entirely live. We don’t do demos. We just play. So we’re in a recording studio, and we don’t ever make demos. We just do live recordings, so our demos are live. It’s an unusual thing, but something that’s really important for us. We’re a very live-centric band.
What are you listening to right now?
Matt: We listen to so much stuff all the time! When I was at my house last Thursday I had Paul Simon’s Graceland on the turntable.
Majel: Matt listens to a lot of Wu Tang clan. There is a band called Extra Life that’s become a reference point for us because the singer is so extraordinarily dynamic and can do so much. It’s really helpful for me to hear singers that are doing anything remotely close to what we’re trying to do. Matt introduced me to Courtney Love’s band Hole. Her vocals are indescribable.
Matt: I’m a really huge Nirvana fan. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Velvet Underground’s album White Light White Heat. What else?
Majel: We’re pretty omnivorous. I’m going to circle back to Courtney Love. As an opera singer, I was brought up around people who drink copious amounts of honey and tea during the day, avoid milk and cheese and would never in their lives dream of screaming on stage. And Matt’s like, hey, can’t you scream a little? So I’m trying to find a way of singing a wide range of stuff, while not destroying my voice. I need to be able to shriek operatically. Part of the challenge for me is that it’s a world of extended technique that no one has ever described before. It’s like I have to be able to do Berlioz level opera type stuff and then turn around and do Metallica level stuff and I haven’t figured out any of it yet.