PHOTO CREDIT: Elena Kulikova
LOTS of colour and energy is what one…
experiences when they hear and see Gabriela Francesca. I ask the U.S. artist about her new single, Blah Blah Blah, and whether there is a personal derivation. She tells me about its creation and whether she has any plans regarding a visit to the U.K. In addition; I wanted to find out whether her Mexican heritage plays into her music and how she has developed as an artist – and which musicians have helped shape her.
Gabriela Francesca talks about her upcoming material and how she will be rounding off this year; why she is keen to head to Big Bear – and what she would say to any hungry young musicians coming through.
Hi, Gabriela. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey there. I’m fantastic, thanks! It’s been great.
I’ve been getting in the Halloween mood, but L.A. is still nice and warm…so I had a gorgeous beach-day on Sunday.
It’s a nice balance!
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Gabriela Francesca. I’m a singer and songwriter working and living in Los Angeles.
I’ve heard your new single, Blah Blah Blah, and it is pretty hot! Can you tell me the story behind it?
Thank you; I appreciate it!
Blah Blah Blah was written after hearing some interesting rumors about myself through the grapevine. I’ve always kept my head out of and above gossip, but it got a little ridiculous, so I decided to entertain the trash-talkers and write a song! I wanted to write a theme for anybody who’s been gossiped about or picked on - to remind them that they are so above the hate and that at the root of it - those people are so bored with their own lives that they have to seek excitement in someone else’s.
It has a summer-time vibe but seems to convey deeper messages. That is quite a hard balance to strike. Was it an easy track together and what was it like working with (producer) GEO?
I feel like, with the cheery Disco vibe, we were able to include really hard-hitting and honest lyrics without making it a sob-story - or a song about being salty. It’s more of a song where I’m poking fun at people who gossip about me - and telling them I see through them - that I know they’re my biggest fans! It was actually a very easy song to write. It was something that was on my mind when I came into the writing session with GEO and co-writer April Bender.
We discussed it and had a good chat about the general frustrations of the rumor-mill; decided that a Disco vibe would fit really well - and then we just got to work! It was a blast and came together really smoothly.
When listening to the song; I had thoughts of gossiping and back-stabbing; the sunshine of L.A. and blowing off those who perpetrate rumours. Did you have a clear storyline when writing? What was it like writing with April Bender?
You nailed it!
We definitely had a scenario in mind when we wrote it. I’m a very visual learner and writer, so it always helps for me to imagine scenes; almost like in a music video. I could just imagine girls sitting down at brunch somewhere very Instagram-able; drinking their mimosas and spewing gossip. That’s what happens when you have nothing going on in your life: too much time on your hands and daddy’s credit card set loose in Los Angeles!
Trust me...those people are everywhere.
Gossip always gets back around to whoever started it, and, that’s another message I wanted to share in the song: people who gossip really hate to be recognized. They’re not comfortable with confrontation or being called on their actions (that’s why they do everything behind people’s backs); so it was really a blast to create this whole scenario of me calling out the "Bitches who brunch". April is an excellent writer and just all around great person, and we’d written together before, so it was a total blast. We’re always on the same page - and I absolutely love what she brings to the table.
She’s such a pleasure to work with.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jon Adjahoe
This will be your third single. I guess, it’s fair to say, personal relationships and experiences go into your music – they are not cliché and like anything else. Is it easy tailoring common themes and making it very much your own?
What’s funny is, I usually am worried that some of my themes or topics are TOO personal to me - and will not resonate with a larger audience. They’re all from real-life experiences and feelings I’ve had, real moments, and, when I first start to write a song, I often worry whether it will be relatable to anyone but me.
As the song comes together, I realize that my sentiments and stories are not just my own: they’re shared commonly by many, many people and can fit many scenarios, even if they seem different than mine. My first single of the year, Hallucinate, was written about a very specific relationship in which I felt I had been abandoned and left high and dry - and as the song unfolded, I realize it kind of became a theme for anybody who’s been ‘ghosted’, or who has mourned an unfinished relationship.
I think, as long as writers write from a place of truth - instead of trying to concoct a story that people will think is ‘cool’ but has no truth behind it - there will always be someone who resonates. A songwriting mentor I had always said: “Don’t write about a cake you haven’t tasted”. Truth always comes through in songs to an audience.
Human experience is not a solitary thing: we, as human beings, share so much more than we think...
You are on a roll. Can we expect an E.P. later in the year/next, perhaps?
I think, for now, I’m focusing on putting out singles.
I have a ton of songs ready to go and so much in-the-works; so, I think, next year, I’d be open to putting out an E.P. with a mix of new and released songs - just to have a body of work that all gels together. Right now, however, each single is a special individual story and world - and, so, I’m enjoying crafting and releasing each record one by one.
PHOTO CREDIT: Elena Kulikova
As a first-generation Mexican-America, raised in Chicago – how much of your family background and heritage informs your music and sounds? What is it like working and recording in L.A.?
I grew up with a ton of Latin music so, although I don’t particularly make Latin music or Latin pop, Latin rhythms and rhythmic influence is definitely present in my music. I always love to incorporate them whenever I can. Overall, I just grew up with an appreciation for other cultures different to my own - and I think that openness and appreciation is there whenever I search for new inspiration for my music (or new directions to explore).
Working and recording in L.A. has been great for me. I’ve always appreciated a good change of scenery and L.A. has presented a lot of new possibilities for collaboration and opportunity.
Give me a sense of the music you grew up listening to. Which artists did you fall for at a young age?
In my household, I grew up listening to a lot of 1970s songwriters; Latin music, Country music and 1950s Pop music: James Taylor, Jim Croce; Harry Chapin, Simon and Garfunkel; Celia Cruz, the Gipsy Kings; Shania Twain, Elvis Presley; The Beatles, Connie Francis; Paul Anka…artists I still love to this day.
My brother, Justin, however, gave me my first two C.D.s when I was ten-years old: Songs About Jane by Maroon 5 and X&Y by Coldplay. That’s when I truly knew what it felt like to fall in love with a band or artist: to feel like they were speaking straight to you through the music. I must’ve listened to those two C.D.s, on-repeat, for two-years-straight.
PHOTO CREDIT: Elena Kulikova
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we all catch you play?
Right now, I’m very focused on putting out new music for people to hear...
The issue of playing shows without a lot of music released is, if you play a great song, people are going to ask where they can hear it or buy it and if it’s not released - that’s kind of the end of their relationship with your music. Hopefully, this summer, I can start looking at tour dates! I’d love to play some shows in L.A. later this winter or in the spring - because the shows I have played out here have been a blast.
Does the U.K. feature in your plans? What do you think of the artists over here?
Absolutely! I am a traveler at heart.
I was in the U.K. for two weeks last winter exploring with my best friend and we had the time of our lives. I’d love to come back to play music and explore the scene. Some of my favorite artists are from the U.K. (Coldplay, Amy Winehouse) so my opinion of U.K. artists is very high!
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
X&Y by Coldplay
The Best of Gipsy Kings by the Gipsy Kings
The Boy Who Knew Too Much by MIKA
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
We’re all in the same boat! It’s not always easy to stay inspired or motivated but we’re in it for the love and all we can do is shoot for the moon: we owe it to ourselves and to our art. Remember why you chose music in the first place. Remember, somebody out there NEEDS your work: it deserves a chance to touch someone.
I’d also say that it’s important to dismiss comparisons to others. One thing that has really helped me has been making sure I have time away from work and the music industry as a whole. Find things that make your inner-child sing; find ways to be selfless and help others and find ways to escape. Changes of scenery and new experiences will always feed your creativity.
Artists are storytellers - and you can never have too many stories to tell.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jon Adjahoe
Do you get much chance to chill away from music? What do you do in your free time?
I do, absolutely.
Consciously stepping away from music and my work helps me to replenish creativity and find inspiration. I am an avid yogi and I also love to dance. I take samba lessons twice a week. I also study French privately with a teacher. I’ve been vegan for nearly half-a-year now, so I love exploring new restaurants in the area and trying out new recipes in my own kitchen. Of course, in L.A., we have some beautiful scenery; so I do love a good hike or beach day - but my favorite way to escape is to drive a few hours out of L.A. into the San Bernardino mountains and (spend) some time in Big Bear: one of my favorite little towns on Earth.
Who knew I was a mountain girl?
Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?
Speaking of Big Bear, my family and I have some plans to spend some at a cabin in the mountains for the holidays.
I guess I’ll get a white Christmas right here in Southern California! I’ll, hopefully, have some music lined up for before and after the holidays for release - so I can take some time to enjoy family company during the actual holidays. I figure everybody else will be doing that too - and focused on celebration - so that’s another reason I’ll probably refrain from releasing music or performing those weeks.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not yours as I'll do that).
I Got a Name by Jim Croce.
I listen to this song every time I drive up to Big Bear so, recently, I’ve been playing it every morning while I walk my dog. It’s a song I’ve loved since I was very young - so it really helps me start my day with a lot of love and warm positivity.
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