CONFRONT: Music was always a big part of your life, when did you decide you wanted to make a career out of it?
GABRIELLE: Sometime in the middle around February/March of 2009 after I had finished my Master’s degree. I knew I really wanted to be able to do it full time. In June of 2010 I started touring and by the time I had come home at the end of August I had already started planning two other tours and I quit my job and took the plunge.
CONFRONT: What inspired you when you were younger versus what inspires you now?
GABRIELLE: I think when I was younger I was pretty influenced by the music I was listening to. And hormones. And melodrama. Teen angst melodrama! In high school I was really into grunge–so anything from Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Smashing Pumpkins to punk bands like NOFX and No Use for a Name was kind of my thing. At the same time there was always music playing at my house (like the Beatles, The Band, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell, lots of classical music). My mom always had music on. I danced 5 days a week until I was 18 so I loved musical theatre as well. In my late teens I discovered Ani DiFranco, The Tragically Hip, The Counting Crows and more melodic, wordier pop singers. Now I think the things that inspire me tend to come less from the music I listen to and more from life around me. Sometimes after playing a show, where I feel like I had a strong connection with the audience, or at the end of a long tour, or even just a big talk with someone I love and my heart is full, that’s when the notes will come to me and I listen for that one line and melody that usually sparks a song.
CONFRONT: What was your reaction the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
GABRIELLE: I’ve never heard myself on the radio! I’ve been in studio for interviews when they are playing my songs and that’s really cool but I have yet to be listening in when one of my songs gets played. I have no idea how I will react. I’ll probably be pretty stoked!
CONFRONT: Currency of Poetry is your third solo album. How would you compare it to your other work?
GABRIELLE: This album really comes the closest to what I’m hearing when I write the songs—in terms of arrangement, harmonies, and instrumentation. I think it’s a good representation of what I am capable of doing in the right studio and with great musicians and singers. It’s a precursor to the next album I already have in the works (which is already written and planned for a Fall 2012 release). I wanted to have something out there that really reflected the year and a half of road time I’ve put in and the growth in songwriting and performing that has come out of that time. For some of the players on the record it is our second or third project together and it’s a big part of the album as well.
CONFRONT: What has been the evolution since Songs For a Rainy Day?
GABRIELLE: That is a big question. How much time do you have? I’m kidding. Songs was really my first experience in a studio. We took our time. I didn’t choose the musicians, or know anything about mixing and production. I sang all the harmonies myself, one track after another. It was also a combination of acoustic songs and pop-punk electric songs. Wanderer was my first studio album in nearly nine years and while the sound was more cohesive and the songs had evolved a lot I was still very much under a producer and engineer’s wings and pretty much let them make the album sound the way they thought it ought to sound (although my producer did send me mixes and check with me on final mixes). Currency was much more of a co-production between myself and the producer for the project and even when we did disagree over the mix it was ultimately my decision in the end. It also comes after 18 months of touring so the songs have had time to mature and grow and I had a much better sense of what sort of sound I wanted and what my band was capable of.
-How would you describe your sound?
That’s always a tricky one for me. I think I’m straddling a line between Folk and Indie-Pop (or Acoustic Pop). Ultimately I want to be a part of both those worlds and I’ve been lucky to play in Folk, Singer-Songwriter, and Pop festivals. To some people if you have an acoustic guitar, harmonies, and wordy lyrics or story songs (and a sidekick who plays a banjo) it seems like you must be a folk singer, and I’m proud to wear that moniker. At the same time I realize that I’m hardly writing traditional folk songs and I don’t have a traditionally folk voice, and I write pop hooks so to some hardcore folkies I’m not really a Folk singer at all—more of an Indie-Pop type. I think as long as people like it and I’m inspired by it I’m not too focused on finding the right genre to describe my sound. I like to tell stories. I like words. I like a song that goes somewhere with a melody that makes my heart soar when I sing it.
CONFRONT: What is the song you are proudest of? (on this album or not)
GABRIELLE: It’s hard to say. I am really proud of the lyrics in Years in Our Bones (that song is about my great-grandmother), and One Small Frame, but I love playing a song like Outlaws and Criminals (the first of my prairie outlaw songs). Dust to Gold also came at a really important time for me as well and it seems to resonate with a lot of people in a way that has sort of gone beyond me. It’s also probably one of my folkier songs and to me it was the first truly folk song I wrote. I think up until then what I was writing was definitely more Indie-Pop than anything.
CONFRONT: You’ve toured Canada a few times now, are you planning to try and make it outside of the country now that you have a solid base here?
GABRIELLE: Yes definitely. I’m going to take the winter months off to plan the next year (2012), and refuel, and write, and record. At the same time I’ll be planning a big tour for the next album release that I hope will take me across the country again and to the U.S. and Europe. I’m a planner and I have to make sure all the pieces are in place but I am definitely itching to start doing some touring outside Canada.
CONFRONT: Where do you dream to play one day?
GABRIELLE: Oh you know, Massey Hall, Saturday night live, the Grammy awards show. Realistically though I’d love to able to play in soft seaters, theatres, churches, and at all the big festivals.
CONFRONT: What has been the biggest accomplishment, in your eyes?
GABRIELLE: Booking, managing and producing everything on my own. It’s huge. I am extremely proud of the leg work I’ve done on my own. Creatively and as a performer it would have to be playing to a packed house with my parents in the audience and hearing the final mixes of this last album before it went in for manufacturing
CONFRONT: Today’s music industry is internet-powered, what’s your opinion on how that has affected how musicians work?
GABRIELLE: I think it gives us more agency in the business sense of things. If you are creative about it and know how to use it properly it’s an incredibly valuable tool.
CONFRONT: (If possible) Could you draw something that represents you and explain how it does?
GABRIELLE: I am secretly grateful I do not have access to a scanner, because I am really not the best drawer ; )
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