BY EVAN RYTLEWSKI
GABRIELLE POWELL admits her previous stage name probably turned listeners away. Before the pandemic, the Milwaukee songwriter was recording under the decidedly non-radio-friendly moniker Wander-slut, a handle she’s since dropped for the more intimate alias Murphy Kaye. “I just really wanted to start moving toward sharing my music on a broader scale,” Powell says of the change. Aching and vulnerable, her new single “Joyride” reflects that more personal approach.
Are you comfortable sharing the story behind “Joyride?”
“Joyride” is about a friend of mine who was really struggling and having a difficult time. And it’s sort of about reckoning with growing up and finding out that you can only really control yourself. You can only really control so much in your life, and if you want to have other people in your life, sometimes there are going to be disappointments and difficulties.
Some of the most successful indie artists of the last few years are songwriters not unlike yourself: Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, artists in that lane. Do you think that creates an opportunity for a songwriter like you to find a bigger audience?
Yeah. I think that being able to say your record sounds like Phoebe Bridgers, people hear that and they perk up, whereas before if you’d said it sounds like a smaller set of artists that nobody had heard of, they’d probably put it in the “no” pile. I try not to chase trends, but it does make me happy to see that guitar music and indie rock are finding their way into people’s hearts.
The full interview is available at radiomilwaukee.org.