Artist Feature: Gabby Young
"Playing our 2nd album launch to a packed out Koko (London, UK) to playing in a Japanese hair salon in Tokyo and marching down Main Street in Austin, Texas with a local university brass band right onto the stage for our SXSW showcase.."
What is your story in music to date?: Oh it's a long one... I wanted to be a singer from a very early age - that's all I wanted. I was painful to teach at school because I would say things like 'I didn't do my History homework as I am going to be a singer!' At least I stuck to my word! I started out doing the usual stuff choirs and musicals until I left school, did a singing diploma in London and started a funk covers band whilst playing my songs at open mics and accompanying myself very badly on the guitar. I'm still pretty bad at the guitar but I now have a 5 piece band to fill in the blanks!
I have just had a massive change to my music and life as I have been the front person of an 8 piece 'circus swing' band 'Gabby Young & Other Animals' for 8 years and then last year I had to pause to deal with recurring Thyroid cancer and when I bounced back I decided I wanted and needed a big change so I swapped the brass sections for synths and we got experimental with a whole loads of 'toys' which has taken us to a lot more otherworldly places. I have always loved Electronica and the freedom for the voice to really fly so I'm loving being able to take my voice and music much further than ever before.
Who are your influences in music? And what are you currently listening to?: Oh so many... at the moment I'm going through yet another Bjork phase, I don't think there is another artists more inspiring, creative and unique than her. I have always had a thing for female artists - if you saw my spofity listens they are 90% female and the other 10% is Bowie, Radiohead and Sufjan Stevens. Of course, Kate Bush is a massive inspiration to me and I was listening to her constantly whilst writing a lot of my new songs which definitely had a massive effect on me, so much so that I had to stop myself from listening for a while before it became a tribute album!! I also love Kimbra and went to see her last week - what a force of nature she is! Also her support act Ofrin is my newest discovery and I was totally inspired watching her amazing, electronic and visual one woman show! Other than that our band just had 2 straight days in the van playing gigs in France where we listened and sang along to a lot of 80s pop and Abba!
How does it feel being part of the independent music scene?: It's brilliant and frustrating in equal measure. I love the freedom of being an independent artist - if I have an idea I just do it and make it happen some way and you can't really do that when you are tied into labels and under umbrellas. I have been able to collaborate in so many different ways and also get my wonderful fans involved in our music in every way possible and that's amazing. On the other hand when you are sending out 100s of emails that aren't even being read and spending more time on admin than the music that bits wears you down. I have days when I love that part too but I will always prefer the music and I definitely have dreams of one day just being able to do that part. But hey, the grass is always greener isn't it?!! ;)
What's been your career highlights to date?: I'm so lucky to have loads of these from headlining and curating NYE at London's Southbank Royal Festival Hall and being joined by 44 people including a choir, string section and aerial dancers for our 2nd album launch to a packed out Koko (London, UK) to playing in a Japanese hair salon in Tokyo and marching down Main Street in Austin, Texas with a local university brass band right onto the stage for our SXSW showcase. All these things were dreams come true, pinch yourself moments!!
So are the times when you are playing your song 'Too Young To Die' to a young guy who nearly just died in his hospital in San Francisco because his family invited you to cheer him up as 'you are his favourite artist' that is life changing and completely unforgettable. I am so lucky to be involved in moments like that.
What would be your dream collaboration and why? : Oh wowww so many people spring to mind, far too many of them are now passed away but I would love to do more guest vocals for DJs and producers as I really get a chance to explore a different side of music! Actually, my dream collaboration would be Peter Gabriel, not only are we from the same part of the country but he has inspired me for so many years and I love how he uses female vocalists on his songs and lets them do their thing whilst creating a unique space for them to explore!
What's the story behind your releases to date?: I'm now in a position where I have 3 albums with my old band and am now half way through recording the next one so I'm trying to decide if it's album number 4 or 1!! All my other releases have been songs that we were already playing live to some extent with others written for the album or even in the studio. We have done all these albums in a studio with a blocked out week or two to record the whole thing with a big team and band behind it.
This time they are all brand new songs and they are being written by myself and Stephen Ellis, my husband and co-producer at home, demoed at home and recorded mostly at home too apart from the drums which we go to the studio for. We have been adding these songs to the set as we go and it's a great way to do it as the song already has it's identity and parts ready to adapt for our gigs which is a really refreshing and exciting way to do things for me!
What do you get the most out of? Studio or Live performance?: I am a live performer through and through - it's all about the energy I get from and give to the audience that creates the magic for the song and that is hard to recreate in the studio. In fact I used to hate recording my vocals - I would end up in tears because it wasn't how it sounded live but luckily I found a space and a way to hone the passion and performance of a live show in the studio and now I enjoy it a lot more. Now with all the electronic toys and making beats in the new music the studio part is just as much fun as touring, well not quite but nearly!!
What would you be doing for a career if music hadn't come a knocking?: Definitely something creative - I sew a lot and have always been into fashion in a big way so I would hope a fashion designer or interior designer - I nearly started a course on the latter a few years ago but decided I could come back to that later in life.
What's next for you? Future plans?:
I like to keep myself busy, very busy so I have a list as long as a double decker bus of things I want to achieve in the next year. Firstly though I want to get this album finished so we tour again with a whole load of new songs. We are already booking tours in as many places as possible for next year and our dream is to get back to Japan and also finally get to South America next year too. Also we have just filmed a new music video that I can't wait to get out to the world!!
You can find more from Gabby Young over at northnote.com