For this week’s BOTW interview we met up with the lovely Gabrielle Aplin to quiz her about her inspirations, her boyfriend’s band and why she believes that old music is better…
Bronya – Presently, youths seem really into DJs and producers, yet singer/songwriters like you still have a massive, naturally grown fanbase. Why do you think that traditional songwriters still have that appeal?
Gabrielle- I think it’s more like a staple. It’s always going to be there, although I don’t think it’s a phase, I do think there are trends. I don’t think singer/songwriters go out of fashion, they’re just always there. It’s organic music, something that’s real.
B- You became popular via youtube performing covers, now that you’ve moved onto original songs I was wondering the link between the two? If you’re doing both, which came first?
G- I was writing my own stuff first, I didn’t know what to do or how to share my own songs. I got a lot of confidence from performing the covers and that enabled my to put up my own stuff, I saw that people liked it as appose to taking a chance, risking it. I used it as a way to open a few doors, to build confidence.
B- Yeah, a lot of people are doing that on youtube, why do you think people gravitate towards you more than others?
G- I honestly don’t know, maybe because I didn’t make a big deal of it. I was just doing it, it was very natural and almost a bit naive.
B- When did you sign to Parlophone and how did that come about? Did you get a lot of label attention?
G- It was on leap day, this year! There were 14 offers from labels, which made it very, very hard. Then Parlophone, it just happened.
B- The Beatles were on Parlophone, that’s pretty good music!
G- Haha! Yeah, that was one of the reasons. I’ve been receiving offers for over 2 years now. I wanted to develop myself, find myself as an artist before I signed anything. Otherwise, I might have been moulded into something I didn’t want to be.
B- Parlophone seem to be quite good with that, it seems to be more of a collaborative effort more than them controlling what you do?
G- Yeah, everything comes from the artist at this label. I like that they choose creative artists.
B- Since you signed to Parlophone, what have they been able to provide for you as an artist?
G- I was able to do the artwork that I wanted for my single, I couldn’t have done that before. It takes a huge team and a lot of funding. I also get to work with some amazing people, like the guy who’s producing my album. They provide the contacts and everything I didn’t have before.
B- The guy that produced your album, didn’t he do one track on one of your EPs?
G- Yes, he did Never Fade. He worked with an artist that my manager looks after, he’s very high profile, we just wanted to do it properly.
B- Did you learn anything from him as a producer, are you interested in getting to know that side?
G- Definitely, I studied production and business. It was nice working with him and seeing how he works, he’s done so much. He has worked on some amazing pop albums, so everyone is a bit surprised as to why he’s producing mine. He’s all about vibe and spirit of a song as appose to the synths and electronics of it. The way he works is very calm and I like that, it’s cool. I never feel stressed or under pressure.
B- Have you been writing with different people for the new album?
G- Yes, with a guy called Nick Atkinson for the last two years. A few other artists and writers too, but mainly just this one team that I’ve stayed with from when I signed.
B- Has writing with other people brought out new, different themes and ideas?
G- Yeah, sometimes it doesn’t work but with Nick it definitely works. We just get together and write. That’s all it is.
B- Your Home EP is very much of the theme of its title, you talk about reminiscing, how did that come about?
G- It just sort of fell into place. Very coincidental, I never set out to make that the theme, but I did notice a pattern and we went with it. At the time I’d just moved so there was a lot of honesty in it. It was in the context of my life at the time.
B- When did you start writing songs?
G- I was around 14, it was more like creative writing. I’ve been doing that my whole life. But it wasn’t until I learnt instruments at 14 that I realised I could put them both together.
B- So you’ve been writing for 5 years, have you seen how your writings changed or progressed?
G- Yeah definitely, it’s developed I think. Got a lot stronger and I feel like I can write a wider variety of things. I’ve been asked to do a few things for different artists, it’s really nice to be able to do that and be respected as a writer as well as an artist. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot.
B- Your writing isn’t all about going clubbing and stuff, a lot of your influences are old school, Nick Drake and people like that. Do you think they have subconsciously rubbed off on you?
G- Yes, definitely. Lyrically Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, I really like their poetic imagery. I didn’t set out to take inspiration from them, it just kind of happened. I’ve just moulded to that way of writing. It all come from experience.
B- You said you really liked poetry? People like T.S. Elliot?
G- Yes and I really like Leonard Cohen as well. I’ve just got Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen. A collection of poems, not all by him.
B- In an interview, you said you wanted to be an honest songwriter. What do you think that means and where is the importance in that?
G- I think for me, that is my appeal. I think people like the honesty in my songs and I don’t want to change that. It’s all I’ve known.
B- Does being frank in your songs affect your performance in anyway? Do you find it difficult to channel the energy into a positive performance?
G- Yeah. When I perform, I kind of feel how I feel when I wrote it. I think that’s what great about a live show. That’s what makes it intimate.
B- I always ask people how they think their taste in music has changed over the years, can you track eras in your taste?
G- I’ve always loved people like Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Bruce Springsteen but there’s always going to be little phases and trends. I had a Paramore phase, but I’m really liking indie bands like The National at the moment. My staple favourites will always be the same.
B- Do you feel like older music is more necessary to know, something you take with you through life, as a foundation?
G- Yes, it’s something you can always go back to.
B- Do you have favourite lyric?
G- Case of You by Joni Mitchell. It’s my favourite, my all time favourite.
B- I love that song so much. Have you had any weird gigs or weird crowd moments?
G- No but I do get a lot of weird people. They’re all very nice, but I just find it strange. There was this real lad-ish rugby type at V Festival and he had changed the lyrics to Home to something about me making him dinner! That was quite weird, but nothing really mad or sinister.
B- Which song of yours means the most, or is most significant to you?
G- Up until now, it’s probably Home. That one was the biggest. It was when everything started happening. The one that everybody seemed to connect to, even though for me it was really personal.
B- The best new bands you’ve heard this year? Didn’t you say your boyfriend was in a band?
G- Yeah, Hudson Taylor. I think they’re amazing, really cool. I really like Nina Nesbitt too.
B- What are you most looking forward to this year?
G- I’ve got Itunes Festival this year with Emile Sande. Obviously, my single and album are out this year too.
- Bronya Francis.