Austin Skalecki: ‘I Strum Three Chords and Say What’s On My Mind’

A Q&A with Austin Skalecki

Appleton-based singer-songwriter Austin Skalecki has over 400 live performances under his belt. We caught up with him before his next one in Door County, Nov. 11.

The conversation has been edited for clarity. 

SW: You mentioned you’re calling me from California. What brings you there?

AS: I’ve been on tour since mid-September. We’ve been going all over the west – Nebraska, Utah, then on the coast here for a few weeks. I’m supposed to be heading home this weekend, but the tour got extended for one more week, so I’m pretty excited about that. 

SW: Who are you on tour with? 

AS: I’m touring with a friend [singer-songwriter Sage Leary] who’s another solo artist in the Eau Claire area. This is actually our fourth, joint tour and we’re starting to write a lot of music together. It’s becoming separate from our solo acts at this point. We’re getting a band name, and all that started now too. 

SW: Are you a full-time musician?

AS: Yes. I’ve been full-time for about two and a half years, since I got out of school. It’s what makes me happy and keeps me going. It’s my passion, and I believe in following where your heart’s at.

SW: How would you describe your sound?

AS: Folksy. A little bluesy. It’s about storytelling – life experiences I’ve had on the road, people I’ve met on the way, just saying what’s on my mind. If people like listening to it, that’s just a bonus for me. 

SW: How did you get started as a musician? 

AS: I grew up listening to Johnny Cash. At Folsom Prison [a live Johnny Cash album] got me into writing songs, and I learned to play guitar to Guns n’ Roses. Within the last three or four years, songwriting has become my main thing.

SW: What is your songwriting process?

AS: I strum three chords and say what’s on my mind. It’s really simple. People think it’s more complicated, but I try not to overthink anything. 

SW: How often do you come up to Door County?

AS: A lot during the summer, usually at breweries. I’ll come up a couple times a week and play Peach Barn, The Cherry Hut, some scenic boat tours. In the winter, I usually come up once a month. 

SW: What keeps you coming back to Door County? 

AS: I really enjoy the openness. It feels like a different part of the state to me. And I love the people in Door County. They’re very accepting of original music. That’s not to say that other parts of the state aren’t, but it just seems to be amplified up there. It’s a different culture and there are some very free-spirited people.

I really appreciate all the business owners in Door County who have had me play at their venues and helped me out on my journey.  Some of the best support I’ve ever experienced is from Door County.

Also, when I play there, I’m usually camping every night, and I love the outdoors.

SW: Where do you usually camp? 

AS: I jump around all the state parks. I try to camp near where my shows are. Peninsula State Park is one of my favorites.

SW: Do you have any big plans for when the tour’s over?

AS: I’m constantly writing songs and I have some shows coming up. One of my first shows back in Wisconsin is in Door County.

That show will take place on Nov. 11, 3-7 pm at Door County Brewing Co., 8099 state Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor.

Related Organizations