“My songwriting is inspired by things that happen. Whether they happen to me, people around me, or even things that happen around the world.”
Despite only being 21, Gabrielle Aplin has had a lot of things happen for her. After gaining a substantial following on YouTube thanks to a series of unconventional acoustic covers, Aplin was signed to UK-label Parlophone in February of 2012. “I had already done everything up to that point on my own. I had aspirations and goals, and knew that a major label with the right team could help me achieve them.” Soon after, a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “The Power of Love,” recorded for a national ad campaign, shot her into the public eye. Supporting both John Mayer and Ed Sheeran on tour cemented her status as not only a performer, but as one to watch for the future.
In 2014, Aplin’s English Rain EP was released in the United States on May 6th. It features 5 songs from her debut album, including a cover of Joni Mitchell‘s A Case of You. She is currently in the studio working on her second album. Check out our Q&A with Gabrielle and be sure to pick up a copy of The Untitled Magazine‘s “Legendary” Issue 7 or download the free “Legendary” Issue App on iTunes now!
Indira Cesarine: How did you get started in the music industry?
Gabrielle Aplin: I got started initially by posting my own music and covers online, which were supported by loyal fans. I started touring and releasing music independently on iTunes and continued that way until I signed a record deal with Parlophone, in February 2012.
IC: What do you consider to be your breakthrough moment?
GA: For me, I don’t think there is just one particular moment. There have been a few moments that have marked chapters for me; the first being the video I uploaded to Youtube that seemed to shoot up in popularity; doing a cover of “The Power Of Love,” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood for an advertising campaign was another that really took things to the next level for me. Releasing my album, playing Glastonbury– there are so many things that have happened.
IC: You’ve mentioned Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell as influences—what makes them such notable icons to you?
GA: I respect them so much as artists. I love how Bob Dylan wrote about social situations and wrote songs for the people of his generation. With Joni, she’s more of an idol for me. She did write about social situations, but was a poet and artist, and didn’t feel she had to adopt a genre. She created what she wanted to create.
IC: What other musicians have inspired your work?
GA: When I was making my album, I was listening to lots of big, anthemic bands and sounds. I was listening to bands like The National, Elbow, and Coldplay. I’m constantly inspired by singer-songwriters and people who can write a good song with meaning. Simon and Garfunkel, Feist, Nick Drake, and John Martyn are all huge inspirations for me.
IC: What inspires your songwriting?
GA: My songwriting is inspired by things that happen. Whether they happen to me, people around me, or even things that happen around the world.
IC: You became known for some of your cover videos on YouTube – what is your favorite song you have produced so far?
GA: I think I loved doing the videos the most when I was in the process of actually making them, and then when I uploaded them, I was focusing on the next thing. I don’t have a particular favorite, but I did continue to play “Fix You” by Coldplay on my tour.
IC: Do you feel the Internet is making it easer to have leverage in the music industry?
GA: I don’t think it’s making it easier, but I do think it’s another platform for artists to use. I think it makes having a career in music more accessible for independent artists, but that doesn’t mean you can put up a video and expect to be an international musician over night. You still have to work for it.
IC: You have toured extensively in the UK and Europe – could you tell us about your favorite performance so far?
GA: My favorite performance probably has to be playing Shepherds Bush Empire in London. It’s a really big room, and I remember seeing bands there, so to be playing it myself was a big moment.
IC: If you could collaborate with any musician, who would it be and why?
GA: I’d love to collaborate with so many people. I think if I was to release something though, I’d like to collaborate with someone who was completely different from me. Maybe a dance producer such as Calvin Harris.
IC: What was the most difficult performance so far in your career, and how did you overcome it?
GA: The most difficult gig was the Dublin date on my tour in March, 2012. Throughout the day, I wasn’t feeling well, and was hoping I would be fine to sing later that night, but it got worse, and I literally couldn’t sing half of my songs. A lot of my friends are musicians and gave up their nights to be on stage with me. It was actually one of my favorite gigs despite being sick!
IC: What was it like touring with Ed Sheeran and John Mayer?
GA: It was an incredible experience. With Ed, we went to Australia, a country I’d never been to before, so just being in a new place made it an experience. To see a crowd that wasn’t there to see me, in a country I’d never been to, singing back my songs at the shows really threw me! I learned a lot from John and his band. I’d toured Europe before, but not on this scale; the sheer size of the venues was a great experience for everyone who was working with me.
IC: Tell us about your record label, “Never Fade” – have you also been working with other musicians on the label?
GA: It never really started as something I had planned; it kinda fell into my lap. After I signed to a major label, I was able to keep my previous releases, but couldn’t put the money they created back into my own music, so I decided to do it for other artists. I have no intentions to properly sign people. It’s more about funding small projects for artists as a start point in the industry, I suppose. I’ve worked with a guy called Saint Raymond, and I’m also working with a girl called Hannah Grace.
IC: You’ve accomplished so much at such a young age, what advice would you give to other aspiring musicians trying to make it?
GA: I think anyone wanting to be somewhere musically should set themselves realistic goals at first. Don’t expect things to happen overnight, and to accept that the amount of work you put in is really important. I think making the most of resources such as the internet and local gigs etc., is just as important as listening to lots of music, rehearsing, writing, learning new things, and really perfecting your craft.
IC: In what direction do you see your music evolving over the next few years?
GA: I’m not entirely sure. I think it depends on what I’m listening to at the time, what experiences I’m having, and the sort of things that are happening around me!
IC: Were you hesitant to be signed to a major label?
GA: I wasn’t, really. I had already done everything to that point on my own, on my own indie label. There was no point signing to an indie because I technically was already on one. I had aspirations and goals, and I knew that a major label with the right team could help me achieve them.
IC: Would you suggest YouTube as a vehicle for recognition for young artists who wish to make it in the industry?
GA: I wouldn’t say so, though I agree it’s great if you use it as well as working on your music in other places. It works well alongside playing gigs, and making the most of other resources, too. I don’t think on it’s own it would do miraculous things for you, but using it with other websites, and directing people to it would push you in the right direction.
IC: This is our Legendary issue. What to you is the definition of “Legendary?”
GA: I think being legendary is using a good trait of yours to do something great, and be respected and known for it. Big things, or small things.
IC: Which legendary artists are you most inspired by?
GA: John Lennon for me is a legend. He was, in my opinion, in the most influential band of the last one hundred years. There wouldn’t be half the musicians and artists there are today without his work, and the rest of The Beatles. He then went on to use his ‘power’ to campaign for something really, really great.
IC: Do you have a motto or words of wisdom you live by?
GA: Not necessarily a motto, but I truly believe in the law of attractions, and the power of our thoughts. I try to live as positively as possible.
IC: What are your current projects?
GA: I’m currently writing and recording lots. I haven’t got any specific dates set in stone, but I’m hoping these new songs will end up on a new release in the near future!
Interview by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine
Photography by Iakovos Kalaitzakis for The Untitled Magazine
Fashion Editor: Rebekah Roy
Hair: John Mullan
Makeup: Ruth Warrior @ Lovely Management
Gabrielle wears a dress by Tube Gallery, necklace by Mawi London, and sunglasses by MinkPink.
Gabrielle wears a dress and holds a guitar both by Beautiful Soul.
Be sure to pick up a copy of The Untitled Magazine‘s “Legendary” Issue 7 for more from Gabrielle!