GAYLE On “abcdefu,” New Music, Touring In 2022, & Traveling


GAYLE’s August 2021 single “Abcdefu” exploded like dynamite. By January of 2022, the angsty track about telling an ex to buzz off quite literally became the most popular song in the world, per Billboard, and just six months later has amassed more than 700 million streams on Spotify. Its lyrics are undeniably catchy (take, for example, “F*ck you and your friends that I’ll never see again / Everybody but your dog, you can all f*ck off”), a testament to the relatable power of heartbreak anthems. The success of “Abc,” as GAYLE (née Taylor Gayle Rutherfurd) affectionately calls it, can be attributed not only to the Texas-born artist’s vocal chops and songwriting skills, but also to its virality on TikTok, where more than 2 million clips have been shared using the song as a trendy sound.

When “Abcdefu” topped Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits playlist in December 2021, GAYLE couldn’t believe it. “That was a moment where I was like, ‘Wow, this isn’t a hypothetical. This isn’t a dream. This is reality,’” she tells Elite Daily before chatting about travel, the main subject of today’s conversation. Ahead of over 20 tour stops that’ll take her from the United States to Europe and back, GAYLE’s now reflecting on her “incomprehensible” story. “How do I acknowledge the fact that [‘Abcdefu’] broke records without feeling like a prick, honestly? How do I balance feeling confident and happy about the success it’s had and really respecting what it’s done? This is why I’m going to therapy — I’m still in the process of figuring it out.”

Part of that process is giving credit where credit’s due. Whereas some artists bemoan TikTok’s prevalence in the music industry, GAYLE’s here for it. “At the end of the day, TikTok changed my life, and I never want to act like I’m ungrateful for that,” she says, acknowledging how the platform has opened windows of opportunity for young female musicians like herself.

As for whether she feels pressured to top her record-setting performance on the app? Nah. “I’ve never written a song for TikTok. I’m never going to write a song for TikTok — that just doesn’t work for me,” GAYLE says. “It doesn’t work for my brain. It doesn’t bring me any personal enjoyment. It doesn’t bring anybody else in the room that I’m working with any personal enjoyment to try and write a song for an algorithm. I did not also write ‘Abc’ for TikTok. TikTok didn’t really exist when I wrote ‘Abc’ with my friends.”

At 18, GAYLE has already proven to be more than a one-hit wonder on her debut EP, A Study of the Human Experience, Volume One, an exploration of adolescence that includes daring songs like “Sleeping With My Friends” and “Ur Just Horny.” In October, she’ll “go deeper into why I am the way I am” on the EP’s Volume Two follow-up. Expect lyrics about sex, religion, partying, relationships, and coming of age. For a preview, listen to “Indieedgycool.”

Along with the release of Volume Two, GAYLE will be on tour this fall, performing for the masses in cities like Paris, Madrid, and Tel Aviv. “Pre ‘Abc,’ I had gone nowhere. I hadn’t even gone to Idaho,” she says, counting Colorado, North Dakota, and Salt Lake City among the places she’s recently visited. “I’ve just now been able to see the world more, and it’s literally insane.”

The latest stop on GAYLE’s globe-trotting adventure was Chicago. Fresh off performing at Lollapalooza and right before packing for her upcoming string of European shows, GAYLE documented her day in the Windy City for Elite Daily.

Courtesy of Gayle

“I hate airports to the point where, like, I would literally rather drive eight hours straight,” GAYLE says, explaining her fear of airplanes. “I think it’s because I’m out of control. I also just get very aware of the fact that, like, we are in the sky. Let’s not act like this is casual. We are in a metal tube, floating in the sky.”

To avoid layovers from the United States to Europe for her upcoming tour dates, GAYLE and her manager drove from Nashville (where she lives) to Chicago, before taking a direct flight overseas. As for who sat behind the wheel on their road trip? Not GAYLE. “I will be completely honest with you: I am not a good driver. I do not have the vibe of being a good driver, overall,” she says. “I think I’m a great driver — everyone around me disagrees. My grandmother, whose car I scratched, disagrees. My car, that I scratched with my grandmother’s car, agrees that I’m a bad driver.”

A Quintessential Target Pit Stop

Courtesy of Gayle

On her road trip, GAYLE picked up some essentials at Target, including phone chargers, adapters, headphones, a jacket, and protein bars for the road. “I needed to get a notebook pad so I could write out all of the lyrics to my songs [for upcoming lyric videos],” she says.

Her go-to Starbucks order depends on the day: “There are three things that I always get. I always just get a black coffee — the only thing about Starbucks black coffee is sometimes it tastes burnt to me. Not even in a bad way. Sometimes I get an iced doppio — two shots of espresso and ice — and I call it crack. If I need caffeine, that’s what I get right away to be up. In this picture, I got a grande soy vanilla latte. I’ve been drinking those since I was like 11; they’re awesome.”

The Ultimate Touring Playlist

Courtesy of Gayle

While on the road, GAYLE listens to her “the music I like” playlist, which is 11 hours long. The artists who made the cut? “Cherry Glazerr. Beyoncé, we love to see it. Robinson. Valley Boy. Phoebe Bridgers. Luna Aura. Mothica. Jon Bellion. Billie Eilish. Lorde. Maggie Rogers. Noah Cyrus. Labrinth. Role Model. Julia Michaels. Girl in Red. J. Cole, as it should. Kanye West. Gracie Abrams. The Strokes. Sizzy Rocket. Olivia Rodrigo, shoutout to her. Holly Humberstone. Dominic Fike. Clairo. Between Friends … Wet Leg, the loves of my life. They’re so good. Beabadoobee … Conan Gray. Sheryl Crow, and many, many more.”

Courtesy of Gayle

When GAYLE and her manager made it to their hotel in Chicago, they stopped for a photo-op. “Anytime we see something pretty, we geek out,” she says. “We saw this little park and there were rocks everywhere. We walked up to the rocks and we saw a pond with the water dyed blue, and I was like, ‘That’s so pretty!’ I was so amused by the bright blue water for longer than I’d like to admit ’cause it had like a tiny fountain and the light went through it. I just sat there.”

Courtesy of Gayle

“This is my good ol’ gas station bag. I was getting chocolate, chips, and energy drinks. I always get a Monster. If I drink a Monster throughout a whole road trip, I can stay up through anything. My manager and I once drove to Wisconsin — I believe that was eight or nine hours — and we played a show and we drove back and we were up till 5 or 6 a.m. I had one Monster with me the whole night. Every hour I’d drink a fourth of it. For some reason, if I just consistently keep one Monster in my system, I’m just like, Let’s go!”

Courtesy of Gayle

“We got to Chicago and had breakfast for dinner. My manager and I absolutely adore breakfast food. We both live in Nashville and my favorite place to go together is Waffle House — it is absolutely amazing. I will go to Waffle House at any hour in the day, at any point in my life, for any occasion that is necessary,” GAYLE says. “[This diner] was called Sugar Bowl, and it was so good. We got the classics of eggs, bacon, potatoes, bagel, fruit — it was a great vibe, I was very happy — and lots of caffeine.”

Always Caffeinated, Can’t Be Duplicated

Courtesy of Gayle

“This is my favorite T-shirt in the world — I got it in Wisconsin — and if you look closely, it has like five or six different coffee/food stains ’cause I always wear it when I’m traveling,” she says. “I’m also just such a messy eater. Coffee is the death of my clothes. [Throughout these photos,] I’m pretty sure I have three different types of coffee with me.”

GAYLE’s second EP, a study of the human experience volume two, drops Oct. 7.

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