Gabby Young: A flame-haired musical force of nature
PUBLISHED: 16:13 29 May 2014
If there’s one buzzword in fashion this year, it’s “normcore”. Blending in with the bland has suddenly become cool, and now fatherly chinos and flip-flops are making an unlikely ascension on to the catwalks.
For all this trendy subversion however, few would pay to see a music show where the singer’s dressed like Larry David. No, they want to see some colour, some charisma, some production value – someone like Gabby Young.
Since the 30-year-old’s first album landed back in 2010, the Queen of Circus Swing has impressed with a free-spirited and diverse style that’s captured as much through her attire as her music.
On Tuesday, her band, Gabby Young and Other Animals, are launching their third album, One Foot In Front Of The Other, at Heath Street Baptist Church, Hampstead.
While the occasion will showcase the glitz that has dazzled fans into submission, Young says the music will always come first and that fashion is just a nice “bonus feature”.
“It’s a way for me to get really dressed up and convey how much effort we’re putting into the stage show,” she explains.
“Sometimes when I go to see bands who are just dressed up in jeans and a T-shirt, I can’t help but think, ‘Really, could you not just put on something to make this feel like more of a show and stick in the memory?’ Then I go and see people like Sigur Rós or Björk, and their aesthetic is so massive; everything they do is just pure drama and experience.
“I always wanted to do that, to push myself visually and give my audience a real spectacle.”
The theatrical side of music has always appealed to Young since an early age. Five years ago, she moved to Kentish Town with her boyfriend, but as a child she grew up Wiltshire, where her operatic voice saw her become the youngest member of the National Youth Choir at the age of 12.
Idolising soprano Maria Callas, she longed to become a performer capable of inspiring great emotion; one who could make people laugh, smile and cry. However, one day a friend handed her a tape of Jeff Buckley and she realised this could be done with her own songs.
“I was told to listen to it because my friend saw resemblances between the two of us, which I thought was strange seeing as he was a guy. It did completely change my life though because it showed you can be really operatic, emotional and theatrical but also write your own music.”
Young’s latest album is undoubtedly her most personal yet – a self-described “grower” that flits between moments of jazz, opera, folk and cabaret with natural ease. It marks a mature step for the musician, and it is one that she owes to her fans, who impressively funded the entire project through a Kickstarter funding campaign.
“I’m so lucky with my fanbase, they are so incredibly loyal and they knew that with this album, it was going to go in a different direction, so they gave it time.
“There’s been a couple of reviews where it’s been so obvious they’ve just looked at it really quickly and I’ve since got emails from them weeks later saying, ‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean that’.”
A prolific blogger and purveyor of social media, Young says she invests time in her fans, who have responded commercially, and this has created a circle of trust resulting in her most “naked” work yet.
“I think that’s what you have to do these days – if you really care about your fans, then you treat them like friends, like family – but that’s how I am as a person.
“If I meet someone on the street, I’ll start talking to them and sharing my life story. There are no strangers.”
Gabby Young and Other Animals launch One Foot In Front Of The Other at Heath Street Baptist Church on Tuesday. For tickets, visit musicglue.com/gabbyyoungandotheranimals.
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