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Q&A: Musician Gabby Young on Different Instruments and New Landscapes

Electronic artist and vocalist Gabby Young has been evolving, and we're really excited at Run Riot to follow her through the next step of her musical adventure. She launches her new single Through the Trees at Proud Camden next month and we couldn't be happier to have the chance to chat to her ahead of the event.

Eli Goldstone: Hi Gabby - let's talk about some of the huge things you've been through recently. You got the all clear from your recurrent thyroid cancer last September - congratulations. Can you tell us a little about how you have used that experience in your work?

Gabby Young: Thank you! Well the cancer put a hold on everything, as when you get any diagnosis like it suddenly everything else is up in the air. It came at a very interesting time for me though as, after touring constantly since 2008, I really needed a break from music, from band politics and from being on the road. The cracks had appeared a while ago and I felt like I no longer loved it. When I got the all clear though the first thing I wanted to do was music - but I wanted to change things up this time and delve into pastures new. I think getting through something challenging like cancer gives you a new confidence and lease of life - so I felt more ready than ever to jump back in the deep end and this time have a smaller band with new instruments to explore. I have always been a huge fan of singer songwriters using electronic landscapes and that’s exactly where my head is at now too. I feel like it’s a more mature version of myself!

Eli: Is the new album particularly about survival?

Gabby: Yes - it really is. I have found that all the lyrics I have been writing recently have survival all over them. I have always written what I know and right now it just feels right to sing about something that has just affected me, but I do play with it - I like to think that people can take the lyrics how they want and you could just as easily assume they are about love, politics and relationships if you don’t know my back story. I never want my words to be too heavily influenced by my experiences - I love a bit of mystery. There is a song called Buku on the album that my husband and I wrote together that I announce before we play it live is named after our dog… whose name is, Hobbes, and that if you want to know more come and ask us!! I like to keep people guessing!!

Eli: You're now married to Stephen who is in the band alongside you. What's it like co-writing music with him and how does the intimacy translate to the music?

Gabby: Well, that was definitely the highlight of last year, and in fact my life, but Stephen and I have now lived together for 10 years and music has always been a huge part of our life together. We started writing a few of the songs from the last 2 albums (with the Other Animals) together and it created some of my favourite musical moments so now every song has elements of Stephen in them. Some are straight forward co writes that we sit down and map out together from beginning to end, some are pretty well formed songs that I bring to Stephen to help complete, and some are Stephen’s ideas that I get to play with and put my stamp on. There is a constant stream of new songs and ideas at the moment - the thing we are struggling the most with is which one to start with. That and, that there aren’t enough hours in the day! I am so lucky to have my husband and best friend alongside me though - he knows me better than anyone and it’s amazing to have someone that you truly trust with you on stage, in the tour van, the recording studio etc etc.

Eli: You crowdfunded for your last album. Do you have a very loyal, supportive fanbase?

Gabby: Yes - they are incredible! We are actually crowdfunding this new album as well because our fanbase has supported and been involved with so much it didn’t make sense to me to not have them included in this new record. We are with as they offer a sort of subscription service for our fans that spreads further than for just an album or project - it’s for our career and it means that we can offer rewards that keep giving. Also it’s a great sounding board for us so we are uploading all our new songs - demos and early mixes to our Patrons and they act like a record label to us who can give us opinions and ideas as well as helping fund the whole thing. Although I think it’s important not to be swayed by public opinion and to always ‘do your own thing’ I also think that instant feedback and having a group of people listening to your demos can make you consider things you wouldn’t come to alone and I love Patreon for that. I also love that our fans know each other through our music too. We do a monthly online meetup and they are all askig each other questions too - it’s a lovely community and it’s been so important to me as I was pretty scared about how our loyal ‘fanimals’ would feel about the new musical direction and they have been amazing about it.

Eli: How has your style evolved over the last few years?

Gabby: Aha, well with a musical change also I get to play a different sort of dress up too! I have always loved playing with my style and stage costumes and now I make them too as I have become addicted to sewing over the past couple of years and a big part of the wonderful sewing community who are constantly inspiring me to make things. I had actually wanted to change my long red hair for a while but always told by everyone that it was my trademark and brand, which I get, but the moment I decided to stop the ‘Other Animals’ was the moment I felt free to change up my hair and my looks for stage. So for now I have a blue bob but next week it might be pink or yellow or orange! I have always been impulsive so I think you will get to see many style changes from me coming up and I’m so excited to feel like I have free reign to explore that now. As well as the sewing skills to create them too!

Eli: Where are some of your favourite places to perform in London?

Gabby: Unfortunately a lot of them are closed now but the places i have the happiest memories of performing in are definitely Union Chapel, which we’ve performed at 3 times, once with a string quartet and harp and is always magical. Koko, just because it was our biggest London show to date and felt like a massive achievement. I loved Richmix where we had our ‘comeback’ gig last May - it is a great space with brilliant sound and was a particularly special, emotional gig for me and of course, Proud Galleries in Camden that we are launching our single at next month. I have performed at Proud with my own band and also as the guest vocalist with Revere (my husband’s band who are sadly no more) and I love the room, atmosphere and stage there so I’m massively excited to bring the new music to life there.

Eli: Finally, if you could choose a lyric to describe your outlook right now, what would it be?

Gabby: This is tricky one as all my new songs feel so current to me and my life but I think my newest song hits the nail on the head… “I am inbetween something happening to me” Let’s hope so!


Gabby Young's single launch is at Proud Camden on the 19th of September