Lippy Magazine meets London based singer-songwriter Gabrielle Sey to discuss her upcoming EP and newest single.
Singer-songwriter Gabrielle Sey has released the first single - White Noise - from her upcoming EP. The track is a balancing act of soul, R&B and Afrobeat, with smooth vocals backed up by an infectious rhythm and smooth instrumentation.
Lippy caught up with Gabrielle in her South London flat. She is cool and collected, chuckling as her housemates accidentally enter the room before we start the conversation.
I start off by asking her about her influences and she names artists ranging from John Mayer to Janet Jackson. Gabrielle Sey takes inspiration from everything. “At the moment I’m really trying to educate myself on traditional Ghanaian music, but I’m trying to incorporate my interpretation of it into my projects. I think whatever you listen to finds a way into the things you make, just in ways you don’t expect.”
We move onto White Noise and what the song means to her. “It’s about the comments people who care about you can make when you’re trying to make a really big decision yourself. You have to respect them, because everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether you like it or not. But also, you have to know when to say no. Whether that’s actually telling them: 'no I’m not listening', or just in my head while they’re talking,” she laughs.
Despite defiance lying at the core of the song, White Noise is simply a statement of fact, and not an argument. “Even when I was writing it, I didn’t actually want to offend anyone, because I’m not that kind of person. But you’ve got to be honest when you’re writing.
A lot of people actually laugh when I play it live, because the tone of it in particular is something that resonates with them. It’s that feeling of: I’m never going to get everything I want to say through to you, but at least I said something. And that eventually, when too many people start talking, it really does just become – well, you get it!”, she continues.
The vibrancy in the sounds of the track can be traced back to the organic way in which the track was finalised. “The final version of the song was actually solidified in a live Sofar Sounds performance. It was the first time we performed it with our percussionist.
She didn’t actually know the song prior to the performance. I sent her a version of it just before. But for some reason the song just came out in a particular way that night, even the way I sang it and how I placed my voice was different to how I sang it before. Thankfully a friend of ours had filmed it. So after we came off stage, that’s the way we've played it ever since.”
Moving away from the song itself, we start discussing her experiences writing. “There was actually a lot of roadblocks in transitioning back to writing again. Every artist, I think, goes through feeling a bit inadequate: particularly when you come straight off releasing something and performing it. But this project was nicer, it was more of a collaboration and every single person who came into the project added something to it.”
We started talking about collaboration and if she felt the impact of that on her creativity. “No, I really prefer it, it’s not so lonely. But it also requires having a lot of humility, because we get so used to having our hands on everything. You have to be mindful of allowing people to have their space, and it doesn’t always work out, you do have to deal with conflict, which is weird when you’re talking about something so personal. But it is a very rewarding outcome, because you see something become a little bit bigger than yourself, I think that’s really cool.”
White Noise is the first single from her upcoming EP, Vapour. I asked her about the name. “When you’re in your twenties, there is a lot of pressure to be in a certain place at a certain time, and it never feel like you’re there. So, it really feels like you’re chasing something that isn’t there. It feels like grabbing air.
I do feel like maybe because marketing is so targeted to teenagers and twenty year olds, there’s a lot of “it’s all about you now, you have to make it in your twenties”. That’s just not fair because it’s a very narrow narrative of the way life is meant to be.
When I put the songs together, the word vapour had been going around my mind for quite a while. Vapour is my interpretation of this idea. That word just really resonated with me, and it gave me a chance to let go a bit, you know.”
White Noise is out now.
Words by Asha Krishnan