When in the music scene in D.C., you just might be given the chance to meet a cool musician from a pretty neat band. On September 7th 2016, I had the exciting chance of meeting, talking, and interviewing an up and coming music artist Gabrielle Smith of the band Eskimeaux (now called Ó). Gabby is a part of a small indie music scene artist collective called “The Epoch” which she helped create. It consists of a series of small bands that have collaborated with one another, and work as a supportive system of musicians to showcase their work. Collaborating with these people helped Gabby to incorporate new music styles into her work.
Teresa: I saw your show at the Rock & Roll Hotel in D.C. earlier this month where you opened for “Basement,” first things off, I have to say your entire band sounded stellar and I loved hearing some of the songs from your newest album. For people unfamiliar with your musical genre and sound, how would you go about describing your band?
Gabby: Thanks!!! I guess the best way to describe it is “dynamic, poppy poem-rock.”
Teresa: I know that you used to perform in another band called, “Frankie Cosmos” as the keyboardist, where you controlled a lot of the synths, and added harmonies – I saw you perform with them earlier this year – what made you leave that band?
Gabby: At the time I was in Frankie Cosmos I was in four bands at the same time. As each of the bands became more and more busy it just started to make sense that I couldn’t be in all of them at once anymore.
Teresa: How did the four of you (Oliver Kalb, Felix Walworth, Jack Greenleaf and yourself) form Eskimeaux – was it an endeavor after being with Frankie Cosmos, or was it an ongoing project previous to that?
Gabby: Eskimeaux has been my project for eight years, but it’s not fun, when you’re surrounded by such talented musicians, to just do it alone. Oliver, Felix, I had been working together since around 2011 and Jack joined in 2014. Since then we’ve all worked together on live and recorded Eskimeaux songs.
Teresa: What really got you into being the singer of a band, let alone pursuing music as a career?
Gabby: I weirdly just fell into it. When I was in high school I dated the singer of a band and I was like, “I wonder if I can do that,” so I tried it. And I liked it! I sang in a couple of (very bad) bands before starting Eskimeaux in 2007 as a solo recording project.
My bandmates and I have worked super hard to make this fun thing we do together into a career. We booked our own tours pretty relentlessly for about four years until 2015 when we started working with our record label, PR person, and booking agent. Working with them has really expanded our possibilities for making this into a career.
Teresa: What does music do for you? This is a general and open ended question, but I feel like it would be interesting to know how pursuing this as a career (full time I assume?) affects your life.
Gabby: Music provides catharsis for me. I don’t really know how else to put it!
Teresa: You must travel and tour a lot, what was your craziest touring experience – whether it was staying at someone’s place in the specific area or something someone did in the audience?
Gabby: One time we had a school bus that was parked outside the venue we were playing as a green room…that was pretty cool.
Teresa: Off your newest album that was released in April, “Year of the Rabbit”, what exactly inspired the name?
Gabby: The lyrics of the first song are “2011 / The Year of the Rabbit.” The whole EP is set between then and now.
Teresa: What would you describe is the biggest difference between your 2015 album, O.K. and this year’s album, Year of the Rabbit?
Gabby: When we were recording ‘O.K.’ the idea was to make a super produced, lush record that probably wasn’t going to be able to be reproduced live. “Year of the Rabbit” is just stripped back; there’s almost nothing extra on the record, it’s just how we play the songs live.
Teresa: What’s your favorite song off the newest album? Why?
Gabby: My favorite song from “Year of the Rabbit” is “Sleeping Bear.” I think it has the best lyrics and the most dynamic, exciting arrangement.
Teresa: You have a pet bulldog named “Frankie” that’s sported on some of your merch, and in some of your songs – when did you get your dog companion and do you find that he inspires you in a lot of your songs? Do you miss him when you’re on tour?
Gabby: I got Frankie on the first Eskimeaux tour. He was given to me by someone named Cris, who was living in Ohio and who became a friend once they gave Frankie to me! I definitely talk about him a bunch in my songs. Of course I miss him when I’m on tour! But I’m lucky to have really amazing friends who love him almost as much as I do who want to watch him while we’re gone.
Teresa: To new and upcoming musicians, what advice would you give to them in terms of success and putting themselves out there in the world of music?
Gabby: Don’t be afraid to be weird.
You can follow Gabby and her band on their Facebook page for upcoming tour dates!