‘Extremely Groovy’: Sky Creature concocts music uniquely its own

‘Extremely Groovy’: Sky Creature concocts music uniquely its own

In January, synth player/vocalist Majel Connery performed during Trillium Salon Series’ virtual New Year’s Day Salon. On Oct. 12, her New York-based duo Sky Creature — with partner Matt Walsh (guitar) — made an actual stop in Fayetteville for a Trillium Salon inside the garage of Likewise Community.

“I’ve always wanted to visit Fayetteville!” Connery enthuses. “For many years, my dad went there a lot on business, and I’ve always been super curious about Crystal Bridges. Katy Henriksen and I got in touch at some point during the pandemic, and I just love her impulse to connect and communicate and build places where artists and audiences can get together. I’ve wanted to play at Trillium for a couple years now, and we’re so grateful to her for creating this opportunity to play for a bunch of people we would never otherwise hope to reach!”

Majel Connery and Matt Walsh make Sky Creature.

Sky Creature’s sound is a “magical alchemy of opposites: weightless vocals set against a raging sea of manic guitars and driving beats.” Set inside the equally magical acoustics of the parking garage, this Trillium Salon set the stage for a unique sound euphoria of experiential resonance and a perfect welcome to the Autumn season.

Trillium co-founder and music journalist Katy Henriksen asked Connery a few questions ahead of the duo’s Fayetteville debut:

Q. Sky Creature first bonded over My Bloody Valentine records. Tell us more about that first interaction, what specifically you two discussed about the recordings and why you bonded?

A. I’m not sure I could tell you why My Bloody Valentine came up so early, but we both love their 1991 “Loveless” album. Matt and I come from different planets musically, so when we find something we both like, it gives us ideas for what we can do together. MBV blew my mind because it was so damn different from anything I’d ever heard. Some of the hugeness of their music — it’s orchestral, it’s shifting, it’s unstable — is in Sky. Lately we’ve been talking about whether you can hear awe in music. MBV are Irish, so that probably makes them Catholics, which probably means they would’ve had the experience of musical awe going to church as kids, and we like to think we can hear in their band that quality of being thunderstruck by something you can’t understand. Which is also Sky Creature. I don’t think Matt and I really know why we’ve always gotten along so well. He’s from Queens; I’m from Nebraska. I’m an uptight conservatory kid, and he’s from the punk scene. And it doesn’t seem like we should be able to make music together. But it works. Sky Creature is this impossible and precious collision of unlike things.

Q. You describe your sound as “a euphoric collision of post-punk, trance, and deconstructed opera.” Elaborate on your sounds and how the two of you come up with them.

New York’s Sky Creature brought experiential resonance to Fayetteville with a Oct. 12 Trillium Salon performance at Likewise Community. The pair are self-described as “a euphoric collision of post-punk, trance and deconstructed opera.” (Courtesy Photo/Noah Kahlina)

A. I’m a vocalist and pianist, and I’ve got opera and classical music in my toolkit. Matt’s a drummer and a guitarist, and he’s got all of punk and rock and hip-hop history in his. So at one level, the Sky Creature sound is just us putting what we’ve got into a pot, and blasting it on high heat. We make very conscious decisions about going as far as we can go in our music. It’s gotta be extremely punk, and extremely opera, and extremely freaking groovy, or we haven’t gone far enough. We both use an Eventide Eclipse in our rig, and that’s a huge part of the vibe — the ability to flip a switch and turn a guitar into an orchestra, or a voice into a choir.

Q. Recording is such a different beast from performing live. Describe what it’s been like to go on tour.

A. First of all, after covid, playing shows is miraculous. It’s like an entire bodily function you forgot you had. Recording and playing live shows are really connected for us right now, and we’re touring so that at the end of this tour we know how to record. Audiences tell you almost everything you need to know. Did they dance and scream, or did they go get a drink in the middle of the song? Every night we play a show, see how it felt, and then spend the next 24 hours deconstructing what we saw happen and making adjustments.

Q. What are your and Matt’s backgrounds in music? What are the formative moments that brought you each to music?

A. We both have a classical background: Matt studied acoustic guitar; I studied piano, oboe and voice. But Matt started playing in a post-punk band called The Forms very early on and did that through all of his 20s and 30s, so I don’t think there was ever a moment that he doubted the most important moments in his life would involve being in a band. I have a more tortured relationship to music that basically boils down to not knowing where I fit in. I’m IQ smart about music, but not always gut smart about it. Sky Creature is the first time in my life that all the things I can do and feel about music come together in the same place, and I’m still getting used to how freaking amazing it feels.

Q. Homebase is Rockaway Beach. Tell us more about your neighborhood & why you love it.

A. Matt is from Rockaway, and New York has always been his HQ. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he and his wife bought property in Rockaway Beach and spent the next many years rebuilding a house there, and also erecting a recording studio. I’m not from New York, but I’ve never been able to get away from it. I lived for years in Chicago, and then in the Bay Area, but I was always coming back to New York.

When Sky Creature kicked off in earnest, it really just had to be that I would move wherever Matt was because we needed to live and breathe this thing together. Rockaway is special. It’s New York, but there’s a beach, and the artists who live here are like these things that grow in the wild. Matt and I feel spoiled because when we play shows in our hometown, people lose their minds sweating and dancing and shrieking, and that’s the purest expression of what we have to offer.

Categories: Music