Larra Skye

Larra Skye

 Toronto, Ontario, CAN
BandPopSinger/Songwriter

With her second album Wishing Tree (2013), Larra Skye has created a synthesis of pop, rock and folk anchored by her strong songwriting and winsome voice which can range from a lush alto to a crystalline soprano. Whimsical, melodic, dreamy music from a Canadian songstress that will charm and inspire.

Biography

“Full of character and nuance... charming... "Explode" [is] an irresistible pop song with a beautiful melody and brilliant orchestration.”
-- Eric Robitaille, CBC Radio-Canada

When Larra Skye began working on Explode, one of eleven songs on her latest CD, Wishing Tree, she sat alone with an acoustic guitar in what a line of lyric refers to as “a small apartment on the second floor” of a house in Toronto. When her producers, Karen Kosowski and Marc Rogers, heard it, they thought it sounded too melancholy, the mood not quite suiting the lyrics. And so, like many songs on the album, they began playing around with some ideas for it. “We’d get to work,” says Skye, “usually recording my parts first so we could then experiment with different sounds.”

A few days later, Skye showed up at the studio to discover Kosowski and Rogers had added piano and horns and simultaneously slowed the tempo yet somehow made the song sound bouncier, more in synch with the words. In the end, it became a kind of Beatle-ish number with a whimsical horn section toward the end.

“Karen, Marc and I had a creative collaboration that made everything come together better than I could have imagined,” says Skye. “This CD most closely captures what I’ve always wanted to do musically.”

It’s a direction toward which Skye has been slowly evolving. As a child, she would see her brother playing guitar in a band and listen to her older sister, Rosanne Baker Thornley’s, album, Courage, released by Sony Music in 1993. Skye began making up songs before she could play an instrument, writing lyrics in a spiral notebook. At 11, she found instruction books in her parent’s bookstore and taught herself classical guitar as well as how to read music. Like Joni Mitchell, she would make up chords that sounded interesting or different. At night, she would sit in the bookstore in darkness – she didn’t want to be disturbed by anyone thinking the store was still open – recording her songs onto the telephone’s answering machine.

Music had become her life and she was determined to pursue it in every way possible. She played slide trombone in the town’s marching band and joined a professional children’s choir that performed in England and Wales as well as around Canada. She sang in school plays and began performing in local coffee houses. With some classmates she formed a folk-rock band called Mars Violet that gave her experience as a bandleader as well as an outlet for her original songs in both English and French.

In 2004, Skye spent a year woodshedding her music in Hamilton, emerging back in Toronto in 2005 with her first solo album, The World Disappears. Featuring top players such as trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, saxophonist Bob Brough, bassist Jim Vivian and drummer Kevin Brow, The World Disappears became the number one bestselling independent jazz album of the year for HMV Canada and received airplay on the CBC as well as jazz and campus radio stations across the country.

By then barely into her 20s, Skye was still evolving. She spent the next few years touring and hiring herself out as a back-up singer. She collaborated with Americana artist Paul Woolner (singing as well playing mandolin and piano) and played trombone with reggae-rock band Rebel Emergency when it opened for reggae legends Toots and the Maytals in 2011. She also studied classical voice at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music.

Ready to record her second solo album, Skye knew what she had to do. “I wanted to get back to playing my guitar with a band,” she says. “A girl and her guitar; those are my roots and it’s at the core of most of Wishing Tree.”

Working with producers Kosowski and Rogers, Skye has created a synthesis of pop, rock and folk anchored by her strong songwriting and winsome voice, which can range from a lush alto to a crystalline soprano. She wrote many of the songs at her parent’s bookstore, now located in rural Williamsford, Ontario, on an out-of-tune Mason & Risch upright piano.

There are collaborations with other writers. Mavillette was co-written in French with Franco-Ontarian musician (and former CANO guitarist) Marcel Aymar. Grain of Sand, a dreamy ballad co-written with singer-songwriter Emma-Lee, features a powerful chorus in which Skye’s voice dips into its rich lower register as she sings, “Don’t pinch me/I know I’m dreaming/You can’t drag me back without kicking and screaming…”

Although united by Skye’s artistic vision, there’s a diversity to the tracks, ranging from the tongue-in-cheek, country-flavoured Pull Me In and the bouncy ukulele ditty, Window Seat, to the compressed vocals and psychedelic organ solo on I Want My Money Back.

The title song, which has a Paris café-style ambience – it sounds as though it could have been part of the soundtrack to the Oscar-nominated romantic comedy, Amélie – evokes the image of a tree that, according to spiritual custom, will fulfill wishes when believers leave coins, cloth or other off

Lyrics

Pull Me In

Written By: Larra Skye

Wipe that smile off your face
I don't have time for games
I want a man to hold me tight
Not just a lover for one night

I tried to look away
When I saw you just the other day
But oh you kill me with those eyes
I think I need to pray

You pull me in
In the wrong direction
And I don't know if this is a fight I can win
You pull me in
In the wrong direction
Like a hot summer sun
You feel good
But you're bad for my skin
Mmm, you pull me in

You were always at the downtown cafe
That I went to almost every day
Held all your women by the hearts
Your lying was an art

Yesterday you sat alone
And I felt your gaze shoot through my bones
I shook my head and had to run
Before I too was won

Chorus

Modern-day Casanova
Dont want to be another page in your book
Your smile is warm but it's not sincere
You can't conquer me with a line
I've heard you speak many times

Chorus

Wishing Tree

Written By: Larra Skye

Can you close your eyes
Waltz right back in time
When you were undefined
Young again

Racing through the trees
Your brother in the lead
A little scared
You call out, “Wait for me!”

He takes you to the wishing tree
Says, “Make a wish, but you can’t tell me”
The wishing tree
Brother, who will we be?

Can you taste the air
Of longing and despair
Whispers of hunted dreams
An enchanted place

You climb onto a bough
Where many more had sat
And you wish you could be
A wishing tree
And never leave

He takes you to the wishing tree
Says, “Make a wish, but you can’t tell me”
The wishing tree
Brother, who will we be?
He takes you to the wishing tree
Says, “Make a wish, but you can’t tell me”
The wishing tree
Brother, who will we be?

Explode

Written By: Larra Skye / Karen Kosowski

Hello darling
My soldier in the night
Can you tell me how it is
How you stole into my life

I wanted thunder
Something furious and brief
Now it’s calm after the storm
And I’m smiling in my sleep

A small apartment on the second floor
It’s our home
We don’t even know our neighbours’ names
A kitchen table with two wooden chairs
The old stove
We don’t even need to light the flame
To explode

Down in the water
With the winds that used to blow
Are the tears I once let fall
They’ve become quiet hellos

In the city
In the summer and the heat
There’s an army marching on
I can hear them in the street

A small apartment on the second floor
It’s our home
We don’t even know our neighbours’ names
A kitchen table with two wooden chairs
The old stove
We don’t even need to light the flame
To explode

Discography

- Wishing Tree (full-length album April 2, 2013)
- Change My Future by EZLV ft. Larra Skye (Suricate Records, 2012. Vinyl and digital EP)
- Suitably Ragged by Limehouse (vocals & piano, 2012)
- Don't Tell Me by Jamie Walsh (2007, music video single, vocals)
- The World Disappears (full-length album, 2006)
- Airplay on CBC, national campus stations, and international radio (US, Australia, Spain, France, Italy)