Interview: Gabriel Black

Hey guys!

We believe that interviews are perfect ways to introduce you to artists.

Whether you already know them, or are just finding out about them - being able to learn more a person and their views can help you connect with their art on another level. 

And because we love getting to know artists better, doing interviews for this website is always an absolute joy.

Today we're thrilled to share our chat with Gabriel Black.

Gabriel Black is an artist originally from Pennsylvania, now based in Los Angeles, US.
His own description is as follows, "I sing songs poorly and draw shitty cartoons".

Well, we see it differently.
We're really digging Gabriel's sound and his creative way of animating his music.
And we're not alone; his track "jump" has racked up more than 800.000 streams on Spotify and over a million views on YouTube.

Describing his sound can be a bit tricky, fellow music critics have used alternative rock, postpunk and hiphop.
And they've kinda nailed it.

However, you should definitely check it out yourself.

Gabriel Black online: Twitter | Facebook | Spotify | YouTube | Instagram

Check out HITS founder Vanessa's chat with Gabriel as they chat about stereotypes, texting fans, ABBA and a lot more.

This interview was held via phone on August 29th.

Gabriel Black: Hey, how are you?

house in the sand: Hi there, I'm good! How are you?

GB: Pretty good, how about you?

HITS: It's a really rainy day over here. Hope it's better in LA!

GB: Yeah, it's sunny. Really sunny. Palm trees are swaying.

HITS: That's brilliant! Sounds gorgeous!

GB: Honestly, it gets a little old. I could use a little rain, it never rains here and I miss the rain.

HITS: I get it, but sunshine doesn't hurt, does it?

GB: No, it's cool.

HITS: So how's your day? What have you been up to so far?

GB: Today I'm doing a few calls but other than that, just hanging out and making music, that type of stuff. It's kinda earlier here, I just woke up a little bit ago.

HITS: So, I wanna talk a bit about this stereotype that artists sit around all day and that songs kind of drop from the sky. And I kinda wanna end that stereotype because we all know it's not true.

GB: No, it's not true.

HITS: So I was wondering how much time you put into your music? How long does it take you to finish a project?

GB: To finish a project? It takes me time. Part of the stereotype- okay, without a doubt you have to endlessly be working, you know?
Because you'll go through waves to make something, just waves of stuff that you don't like, is not good - and you have to work through it to then have the breaking point where you get something good. So you always have to be working but to the opposite of that point, I do think, at a certain point a song will kind of come to you. You know what I mean?

HITS: Yeah, that totally makes sense.

GB: You can't just sit around, because then you're never going to improve. The whole thing is, you have to work through the bad moments; the uninspired, the not really productive moments to get to the gold.
So yeah, I probably work.. I work, I don't know. See, I do the art shit as well, so I do a few hours of the art shit a day and probably five, six hours of making music. Something like that. It's off and on, it's scattered. I've also got Netflix playing in the background, it's a mix of it.

HITS: That's totally cool. So you also animate your videos yourself - so I was wondering, when you write your music, do you already envision what the video is going to look like at the same time? Or does that just happen later on?

GB: Yeah, totally. I think that visually when I make music, I always kind of have an image in my head.
Whether it's just a guitar loop that I've done, I'll even start thinking what kind fits it visually. But especially once I start adding words, then it really comes together. I think about videos from the very start.

HITS: You seem to be pretty open about dark moments in your life through your music. Does that ever feel scary to you?

GB: Yeah!! That's kind of why it started out as a cartoon, to hide me, so I could be open about it and not show people who I am. I mean, yeah, putting yourself out there is very scary.
I've always been kind of shy to be honest. In High School would never play the talent shows or whatever, because I was very shy.
It's easier to be more open with people that don't know you than with people that do know you. So putting on a mask and being able to have a little bit of separation has been a really good thing for me.

HITS: That totally makes sense and it's really relatable. You seem to be really active on social media - and nowadays it goes hand in hand with music. And I've seen that you've put out your number online - so how did you come up with that?

GB: To be honest, I just thought it would be cool to have a way to talk to people directly. I mean, you can still dm me on Instagram and shit like that. But I just thought it would be cool to be like "let's just text.".

HITS: Amazing!

GB: And then that just happened. And to be honest, I'm not a big fan of social media. I know I'm on there a lot, or I'm trying to be. But really I hate how important social media is to music.
So texting was kind of a way of I didn't have to go on there but I could still talk to people. Being able to text feels closer than dm-ing someone.

HITS: Oh yeah, absolutely. So have any funny stories come out of that? Have you received any weird or strange texts so far?

GB: Weird or strange texts? Not really. Most of the texts honestly are more emotional.

HITS: Oh really? That's nice!

GB: I think by making music that is very true to myself, it has resonated with people in some way, so people will hit me up and tell me what's going on in their lives and how a song has helped them in some type of way.
It's gotten very deep at times, sometimes overwhelming to be honest. And I don't always know how to handle it, but I'm honoured that people will open up as much as they do. It's cool! I feel like I have a real bond with a lot of these people.

HITS: That's really beautiful actually, wow. It guess that also makes it a bit easier for you to be open, in return, because you know there are people who are willing to do the same.

GB: Yeah! I supposed it's true, I really haven't thought about it that way but I guess that's true. That's what I think, my supporters, that's what they expect from me now. It's just honest lyrics and shit like that. And then when we talk, I just try to be myself.

HITS: Of course, and that's always how it's meant to be, I guess.
To switch it up a bit and get into a bit of a lighter mood around here - I've seen your Spotify playlist and one band I was not expecting to see on there was ABBA, which is incredibly cool. Would you say your taste in music is pretty wide ranged?

GB: Oh yeah, for sure. To me, a good song is just... you just have to feel it, above anything. And I feel ABBA songs, witout a doubt.
My mom used to play a lot of ABBA when we were together. I went to the Broadway and saw Mamma Mia! and stuff like that. And literally whenever we were driving around, my sister, my mom and me would play ABBA in the car.
You just feel the music. To me the writing isn't that poetic, it's very upbeat, which is different to my kind of stuff. But like I said, when you feel it, you feel it and that's all that matters.

HITS: Brilliantly put. If you could form a supergroup with three of your favourite acts - who would you pick?

GB: Kid Cudi, Kanye West and do I get to pick one other or am I the third?

HITS: You can pick one more.

GB: Kid Cudi, Kanye West and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, something like that. I don't know.

HITS: I feel like you've now manifested it, so one day we'll have that.

GB: Yeah, that would be crazy.

HITS: For sure! So what's next for you?

GB: Put out more music. It might take a second, but put out more music. I have ideas for crazier stuff in the works, I wanna make a TV show with the cartoon. I think that would be really cool. But yeah, that's really down the line. But next is really more music.

HITS: So we've got a lot to look forward to.
There is one question we ask everyone before we finish the interview: we have built a house in the sand, if you could build a house anywhere in the world, where would you build it?

GB: Anywhere in the world? Whoa, that is hard! I honestly think about this a lot because I love dreaming about my future and shit like that. Geez, it's really hard. I often dream about three houses.

HITS: Fair enough!

GB: I don't know. I think I'd like to live outside San Francisco, in Marin County, it's super beautiful there. It's still pretty close to know, you know, I live in LA so it's only six hours away. But I think it's one of the most beautiful places. And it rains a lot, as we were talking about. It rains!!!

HITS: Whoa, it's coming full circle! Amazing!

GB: Exactly, exactly!

HITS: Cool! So thank you so much for taking the time to have this little chat - that was cool, I really enjoyed it.

GB: Thank you for having me!

We hope you enjoyed our chat!

Thank you for your visit!

Credits // Words (Intro & Questions): Vanessa Jetwash | Image & Answers: Gabriel Black


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