Skating Polly, a sister duo from Oklahoma made up of Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, formed in 2009 after a jam session at the girls’ Halloween party. After recording their debut album Taking Over the World in their living room. Their sophomore album, Lost Wonderfuls, (produced by Exene Cervenka of X and mixed by Kliph Scurlock of The Flaming Lips) was released in April, 2013. Their third album, Fuzz Steilacoom, released March of 2014 was tracked by Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening at Dub Narcotic Studio.
Raised on ‘70s punk and early-‘90s alt-rock, Mayo (age 15) and Bighorse (19) mine inspiration from artists as disparate as Johnny Cash, The Ramones, Nirvana, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Bikini Kill and saturate their own songs with a raw energy reminiscent of their musical heroes. Skating Polly takes a minimalist approach to songwriting, with the two self-taught musicians (Bighorse plays guitar, Mayo plays a guitar/bass hybrid called a basitar, and both girls play drums and piano) crafting super-catchy melodies mainly by “messing around with our instruments and figuring out how to make cool noises,” according to Bighorse. But despite their stripped-down aesthetic, their songs contain a rich emotionalism that’s at turns brutally in-your-face, gut-wrenchingly tender, and irresistibly fun. A critic described their single ‘Alabama Movies’ as “an undeniable piece of work…a knockout punch that pummels your rib cage into shrapnel shards for all its thunderous percussion, palpable tension and Kelli Mayo’s piercing, possessed vocals.”
Along with earning the adoration of Cervenka (whom they befriended after attending one of the X singer’s 2010 solo shows and playing their demos on a cell phone), Skating Polly has found fans and supporters in Rosanne Cash, Kat Bjelland and Lori Barbero (Babes in Toyland), Sean Lennon, Donita Sparks (L7), Kate Nash, John Doe (X), legendary DJ Rodney Bingenheimer and the actor Viggo Mortensen. They have shared the stage with punk legends like Mike Watt, and hit the road with indie heavy-hitters Deerhoof, Kate Nash, Flaming Lips and Band of Horses. The stepsisters typically optimize their travel time by writing songs on their ukulele.
Prolific songwriters who are constantly recording when not on the road, the duo is finalizing two new releases for 2015. In the meantime, they are hitting the road with Perfect Pussy in March. In May, they will play overseas for the first time when they tour the UK with the reunited Babes in Toyland.
Both Mayo and Bighorse are intent on ignoring what’s fashionable and staying true to their passion for challenging music with long-lasting appeal. “The musicians we’re most inspired by are the ones who keep on going and going, who devote their entire lives to coming up with new and different stuff,” says Mayo. “A lot of times at our shows people will come up to us and tell us, ‘Keep on doing what you’re doing, don’t ever stop’ and we’re just like, ‘Yeah—we weren’t planning on ever stopping.”