As May comes to an end, many kids around the country are gearing up for a summer away from home at camp. Relevant because that’s exactly where Gabrielle Marlena’s interest in music. Fast forward to today and she’s a Brooklyn-based singer with her debut, Good Music For You out this summer. We talked camp, the new album, spies and so much more!
Kendra: You got your knack for songwriting spending your summers at camp, right? With that, have you ever thought of doing one of those sleep away camps they have for adults now?
Gabrielle Marlena: I’ve seen ads for those! I’d love to get involved. I think the summer camp vibe is so important, especially for adults these days living in cities. We need to be reminded that yes, it’s okay to lie down on someone’s lap and get your hair braided. It’s not weird. My summer camp, Camp Kinderland, has actually started its own music festival weekend. Last summer was the first year of the festival, and I was proud to be on the lineup with Dar Williams! She is such a rockstar and was so important to me and my friends as campers at Kinderland.
Kendra: Back to the city. What’s the indie rock scene like in Brooklyn right now? Close Knit or too big to know everyone?
Gabrielle: Definitely too big to know everyone! There are so many talented people trying to make it here. But at the same time, everyone knows that NYC can feel like a small town. I rarely go to a show where I don’t run into someone that I’ve met since I’ve moved here. People who like supporting good local music tend to gravitate toward each other. Even people who like supporting BAD local music are ok in my books! Support the art! As long as it brings people together, right?
Kendra: Your debut, Good Music For You, will be out this summer. What is some good music you were listening to and being inspired by when you were writing and recording?
Gabrielle: This is such a tough question because I’m inspired by so many different kinds of music. Even if it’s a totally different genre. It just gets me going when I hear people speaking and singing emotion, and it makes me need to share my own songs. But some of my music loves within my own genre would be Julia Jacklin, Sharon van Etten, First Aid Kit, and Cat Clyde (that slide guitar wow). When I was trying to explain to my producer what kind of sound I wanted to hear, I made her a huge Spotify playlist (that she kindly asked me to shorten). Included were artists like Lissie, Jack River, Marlon Williams, the Head and the Heart, Billie Marten, the Civil Wars, and Kevin Morby.
Kendra: In four words, what can we expect from this summer release?
Gabrielle: Feels, honesty, love, healing
Kendra: I’ve heard this album does have this sort of femme fatale aspect to it. That made me think of a badass spy movie. So if you had to have one, what would your undercover spy name be?
Gabrielle: Well that’s flattering! But I’m not so sure about the femme fatale thing. I actually think the album is more vulnerable than the classic femme fatale idea. But if I had to pick a spy name, it would definitely be Madame Marlena.
Kendra: Stepping as far away from music as we probably can…You studied economics. How does one go from one of the hardest subjects (this is my 17-year-old self talking) to music?
Gabrielle: Aha, people’s brains work in different ways. I’m terrible at history and sports! I studied Economics because I was good at it and it made sense to me, but I was never passionate about turning It into a career. When I graduated, I couldn’t deny that writing music was all I’ve ever really wanted to do. I’m not going to say college was a waste, though. While some of the courses only taught me how to bullshit my way to an A and work the system, others definitely broadened my understanding of the world. And now I feel like I really know the seal hunting system in Alaska, and I could tell you all about Tulipmania in the 1600’s (Wikipedia that shit, it’s crazy).
Kendra: Other than the new album, what else is up with you this year? Touring?
Gabrielle: I haven’t toured yet, but I hope to make my way around the East Coast (up to Montreal and back) at the end of this summer. Then we’ll see from there! Over the past year I’ve been working mostly on growing my local fanbase and creating this project. Honestly I’ve only been in New York one year, and I don’t feel any rush to get out. I feel so at home yet constantly stimulated in this city.
Kendra: Thinking back to your first summer away at camp. Yup, we’re taking it back. If you had to send yourself a mixtape of your fav songs from then, what would definitely be on it?
Gabrielle: I LOVE THIS QUESTION.
“Two Points” – Deb Talan
“Vincent” – Deb Talan – I’m pretty sure these songs were actually on a mixtape that my sister’s friend gave her back then, so obviously they were cool.
“Hurt” – Johnny Cash – Oh we were serious 12-year-olds. My friend Talia did an interpretive dance while I performed this song our first summer away, and yes we were aware it’s actually a Nine Inch Nails cover.
“Jumper” – Third Eye Blind – Obviously.
“Turn Off The Light” – Nelly Furtado
“Electric Pink” – The Promise Ring
“November” – Azure Ray
All of Lauryn Hill’s Music
“Santeria” – Sublime – We had really cool counselors.