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Interview: Gabrielle talks about her new single Show Me and her first album in 11 years, Under My Skin

The British superstar is coming back to music in a big way this year.

Gabrielle
Credit: BMG

Gabrielle is a British music legend with countless hits to her name including Dreams, Give Me a Little More Time and Rise.

Yesterday she announced that she’s releasing her new album Under My Skin in August, her first studio album in 11 years. The lead single, Show Me, is available to download and stream now.

I caught up with Gabrielle to talk about her new music, find out what we can expect from the new record and to discuss the changing landscape of the music industry.

Show Me is such a tune. It’s so classic Gabrielle but also very modern. Can you tell me a bit more about that track and why you choose it to be the first single?

I remember going into the studio with Steve Chrisanthou and he played me a piece of a backing track, which was would end up being Show Me, and I loved it b ecause initially musically the original sound reminded me of Womack & Womack. I love them and I love the Love Wars album. I remember thinking, ‘oh my god I love this’ and by the time I write the song, although it wasn’t a Womack & Womack vibe anymore, I was really pleased with it. When Jamie Nelson from BMG heard it he was like, ‘this is very much you and this is the old you that we love. It’s presenting yourself in 2018’.

I continued writing but that song it spoke to everyone and they were like, ‘you know that’s the first single?’ and I said, ‘Come on, we’ve got others!’ (laughs) Everyone was unanimous that this should be the lead song. They say it’s hooky but I don’t even know what a hooky song is anymore. I just loved it too and I’ve got so many favourites but the fact that this was the unanimous one, I was all for it because it’s a song that I love singing. It’s a good vibe and although it’s about love, a bit of insecurity and the meeting of two minds. This is a song that I think people can relate. I hope people can relate to this and if they find it easy to sing along to, more the better!

I only heard it this morning for the first time and I’m already singing it!

Well that’s fabulous, you’re making me feel good!

The vocal on the track is really passionate and really emotional. I think it’s a little bit different in places for you…

Yes it is…

With this record are you keen to show something a bit different whilst retaining that classic Gabrielle sound?

I remember that when I sing (live) people would say I sound different from the record. I’m more soulful sometimes in real life than on the record where I tend to be more straight. With this record I was allowed to have a bit more of a me input rather than just singing songs straight because people would say, ‘oh you want it to be accessible, you want this…’ I could do my ad-libs that I would probably do on stage and do a bit more of a grittiness or more of a soulfulness, and have this be showcased more record than before. I haven’t got a big voice but it’s the little tone, the little vibe and the little Gabrielle-isms as my management say that makes it still me but showcases the other side of me that I show on stage. I like to think people can still get a sense of more of me for this album.

Gabrielle - Under My Skin

Credit: BMG

You’ve just announced the release of your new album Under My Skin, which is coming out in August. What can we expect from the record?

There’s definitely going to be a cross between a bit of soul, a lot of pop and just a couple of retro vibes in there and having fun. The thing I’ve said to everyone is that I wanted this to be a record that people can put on and singalong to and vibe away whether you’re doing the ironing or you’re in the car driving. It is a case of a return to the Gabrielle of the old. I’ve experimented over the years. I’ve gone country in places and done a few different things. When you think of the Rise album, this isn’t exactly the same but it has a few things that album did like a bit of soul and a bit of pop. I’m hoping there’ll be something for everyone on here. The title Under My Skin, it’s a track on the album too, I hope that when people hear this they’ll have that element of getting under my skin and getting to know things in my head that I was thinking at the time or going through when I penned this album. It’s a mixture of love, positivity and empowerment. I hope there’s something for everyone on this album.

It’s evident from the song titles that empowerment is a theme that runs through this record with songs such as Put Up a Fight and Won’t Back Down. Why was it important for you to capture that feeling of empowerment on this record?

Do you know what? It wasn’t even a deliberate thing but it was my state of mind at the time. I’d been going through so much stuff. Sometimes if you’re going through a negative patch I think you have to focus on something that can draw you out of it. When you get your sights on being positive and capturing the thing that can elevate you, before I knew it was positive emotions and positive feelings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not realistic to be positive all the time and you have accept that you may have your down days but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. I think if you can just hang on in there, you know what? There’s always tomorrow and you just gotta hang on in there and hold on tight and now if there’s a bumpy ride it smooths out in the end.

I think the positivity and the optimism and the empowerment came through my own journey and revelations of going through different experiences and deciding how best I was going to deal with them and how best I was going to not let them affect me. It’s natural that you go through things and you’re a bit down. I think this album was born out of all those things – the positive and the negative. The idea is just to be positive, to believe in yourself and to love yourself. If you don’t love you who else is going to love you? There’s all these elements of those conversations I’ve had with myself that reared their heads and they’re very evident on this album.

This album feels so timely as we live in a world where we really need some optimism and hope right now…

I think it’s always been something that we’ve needed but like you said, more so than ever before . We’ve gone through so many changes and the world as it stands is a scary place. If you can find your heaven on earth whether it’s at home, whether it’s in music, whether it’s your job… wherever that place is where you feel most safe and the happiest you can be. I think that starts within and then after that you seek to find that little corner where you think, ‘this is what makes me happy. This is what I look forward to coming home to despite I faults coming home or this is what I look forward to going to work to do’. Definitely, you’re right we need all those positive moments and we need them now.

I can’t quite believe this your first album in 11 years. Where did those 11 years go?

They raced by I’m telling you now! I can’t believe it’s 11 years either but it’s one of those things that when you’re having fun, time does race. I’ve been doing loads of stuff. I was always writing and on and off I was touring. It’s only been the last two or three years that my thirst for going back on the road and making new music has come in to play. I went on tour with Michael Bolton about two years ago and I just had so much fun. I went on to do a mini-tour and it was a case of, you know what it’s about time I had completely brand new music. The fact that I can actually be speaking to you today and I’ve got this new album and new single, all this happening this year, it’s incredible and I’m excited. I can’t wait to go on the road with this album, with the new songs and take it to a town near everybody so we can all have fun with it. That’s what’s I’m looking forward to the most.

Along with the excitement, are you nervous about putting out new material after so long away?

I am the most nervous person already so the added pressure that it’s been 11 years since a new studio album, I try not to even think about it. Everyone’s like, ‘you must be really excited’ and I’m like, ‘honey with the excitement comes scary moments yet’. It is scary because you just don’t know. The music industry has changed so much. These digital releases are like tools for the album and the album’s not due out until August. I’m just going with the flow and doing as much as I can. I’m going to be on the road. I can’t afford take on anything negative. I just don’t think about what could be or what might or might not happen. I’m just loving every moment of it right now and the fact I do have a new album, that’s what it’s about. All the scariness of performing, and I do get scared, and the scariness of bringing out new material and how it’s going received or not… these things are out my hands. All I can do is just do what I do and be the best at what I’m doing for me.

Gabrielle

Credit: BMG

When you first came onto the scene the charts were a very different place with all of the focus on hit singles and chart positions. That’s not the case any more and music is finding more longevity through streaming. Is that liberating for you as an artist because you’re album to put out the music you want to make?

It is liberating because obviously it’s changed so much since I first came out but at the same time this is the era we live in. It’s the era of change, the era where things are done differently and you go with the flow. In the old days people waited for the singles and the album but now in an instant at the press of a button you have new music with streaming and stuff like that. It is liberating because sometimes people get to hear your stuff who probably wouldn’t necessarily have wanted to pick up your record. It just allows me to do what I’m doing and be free to do it. It’s still scary but it is liberating. You can’t fight change and you just have to go with it.

Especially with social media where you can get instant feedback. I imagine you’ve had plenty of feedback already?

Oh my god! (laughs) That’s the scary thing. People can be minutes into the record and write a review whether it’s a scathing one or a lovely one . These are just the times w e live in! (Back then) if they didn’t like it, they could send you fan mail (laughs).

You’ve got a sold-out show at London’s Jazz Cafe in a couple of weeks. What can your fans expect from that show?

What you can expect is new songs and the old songs. I never go and do shows without at least giving the audience some of the old stuff especially the old hits that people leave their houses to come and watch me sing. I am going to be giving you a combination of old and new. I will be showcasing a lot of the new material also but I will not be forsaking the old stuff. Get ready to come and party!

You alluded to the fact that you’re looking forward to going out and doing a wider tour. Are there any plans to do that at the moment?

Yes! There’s a couple of tourrs lined up this year but I can’t say much about them apart from I’m doing one of my own. I will be on the road this year, that’s guaranteed and doing festivals. There’s lot of dates on the website so if people can’t wait for me to do my tour then on my website there are other dates of shows I’ll be doing up and down the country over the summer and that’s exciting too!

There’s a real focus for artists on product bundling to drive pre-orders now and they’re really popular. Is it encouraging that people still want physical formats such as picture vinyls and CDs?

It’s very encouraging. I’m getting used to this because I’ve got a 15-year-old and she’s got a record player. For her it’s all about vinyl right now. It’s all come right back in a circle to where I started off when it was cassettes and CDs. The interest and revisiting of vinyl is taking on a new thing right now. I’m still of that generation where I don’t really stream so much. I actually go out and buy CDs still. My daughter is on vinyl and I’m still on vinyl. Maybe it’s my generation but I like to feel the products and go inside and read who said what and who the producers are and see the lyrics. I think there’s a part of that probably that will never go away. In fact there’s a renewed interest in it. I appreciate that.

I’m with you there. I’m a physical format kind of person. I have to have the CD or the vinyl…

Exactly I love all that stuff. The idea that it’s all streamed on Spotify or you can have downloads but you don’t have anything physical for it. I still have folders where you put your CD and the cover, and I still have that all arranged. I love all that. The idea that one day people won’t have the physical evidence and it’ll all be on the computer, that’s not exciting! I like seeing old artwork and CD covers. I hope it never disappears because I love the physical.

Gabrielle’s new single Show Me is out now and her album Under My Skin will be released on 17th August 2018 through BMG. You can pre-order the album at https://gabrielle.tmstor.es/.

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