Kat Hamilton: Hey April! Love the new track. Lets dig in. How would you describe “Abandon” in three words?
April Rose Gabrielli: Music. Before. You.
Kat: What inspired you to release a solo effort?
April: The inspiration to release a solo effort definitely stemmed from a combination of undeniably life-altering and empowering events. After I graduated college, "the future" I always planned for was suddenly here and 100% different than I had ever imagined. I temporarily moved out of NYC, immediately went on an east-coast tour with my band and finally came out after having put it off for eight years. A lot was happening, which warranted a lot of writing. On the creative side, my head was pumping out idea after idea, constructing melody after melody and trying organize all of these feelings as soon as they came to me.
In the past, I've always had a ton of lyrical content, but developing and facilitating sounds to frame my thoughts correctly has always stopped me - I never felt confident enough in that aspect of my song-writing. Since I've jumped into the world of rock music, I've developed a heightened understanding of how I want to create feelings through sounds and music. I attribute this 'musical awakening' to writing with the incredibly talented guys in The Serotones, working with Mike Watts (genius alt.rock producer - The Dear Hunter, As Tall As Lions) and more recently working with my incredible friend (and bad-ass producer/writer/mastermind) Joe Wood on tons of new music. If it weren't for Joe's enthusiasm and focus on this project, I am certain it wouldn't have gotten done. After trading demos and ideas, we decided we had to work together. That was on a Friday - our first session was the following Monday, now we have "Abandon," two months later and countless other projects in the works.
Kat: It feels as though you and I have run parallel courses in our career. What is the main difference you have noticed between writing for a band and writing for a solo project?
April: For sure, Kat! We can definitely relate on this one. With the band, we've got a really cool balance. Although all five of us have a hand in the song-writing process, Kevin Eiserman and my brother, Jared Gabrielli are the main writers and sculptors of that true "Serotones" sound. I often help to fully realize and finish off fleshed out ideas with supporting vocals, lead vocals, piano, organ or synth parts. Sometimes I'll show some of the guys songs I've written and we'll include them in the mix, then they get to add to what I've started. The demands are different for each song and its definitely a challenge, but I love it - being my band has seriously improved my musical chops and what I create alone.
When I write solo, it's super free form. I'm usually writing music and lyrics at the same time and layering them on top of one another and tend to make very strange, non-generic musical choices in the early stages. It's my time to experiment and indulge in strange poems I find in my journal or very current, pressing emotions I need to expel. I used to write solo singer-songwriter/musical theater music before I joined The Serotones and I always ran into roadblocks. This time around - I feel my solo work really represents me and my overall process has completely benefited from my experiences with the band. So while the two experiences are very different, I couldn't have one without the other.
Kat: “Abandon” has a really wonderful heaviness that definitely reveals your rock background, what other genres influenced your single?
April: Awesome, thank you. "Abandon" is certainty experimental for me and became a smoothie of different genres including ambient pop, rock and electric music. In addition to these genres, we also have a great "Serotones-esque" bass line holding the track together, courtesy of my brother Jared Gabrielli (drummer/rock God of The Serotones). All of these genres point towards the rise in the addictive genre of mainstream "Dark Pop." I love this new wave in music. Joe Wood, the producer of the track - is a huge rising force in developing this sound and genre.Joe's recent single "Rush" was a huge inspiration for the way that "Abandon" was produced and finessed. When working on this track we often referenced tracks by Sia, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, and The Weeknd.
Kat: What personal experiences/struggles have inspired your songwriting the most?
April: I think I write most about being in love, feeling hopeless and demanding answers - three related things in my life. But there is always a huge story and theme that inspires each tune - definitely a result of my musical theater roots. My high school drama teacher David Kramer always talked about "Creating A World" when we performed our shows and establishing rules within this world. I try to do this with each song I create as well, it is the best way to convey a complex idea into a "3.5 minute note cluster," as Matt Cusano would say. (Bass player of The Serotones).
In this case: "Abandon" is my unapologetic response to those who have have attempted to discourage and devalue my love for and devotion to being a creator. As I've grown up, my one constant has been music. In the last couple of years, I've been challenged on my obsessive devotion to being a creator and performer more than ever before. I've never questioned choosing a personal relationship over a productive medium, it doesn't make sense. What I create is ultimately my legacy - I'd say that deserves my full attention. I will never regret standing up for what I do. Recently, I've branched out and expanded my writing to encompass my political perspective, female empowerment and the rise of social/mental illnesses.
Kat: What hits me first about “Abandon” is its slow seeping darkness. Do you find that you hear the production come to life while songwriting or does the production follow the completed song?
April: The track certainty had a very clear concept when I brought it to Joe Wood to produce, except... it didn't have a chorus. So while I was hearing production during the beginning phases - I wasn't sure how explicitly I wanted to prove my point, the production helped to support what I wanted to say and Joe and I collaborated on a chorus that we're really happy with. I often flip flop between knowing exactly what I want and then not having the slightest clue. Talking the tracks out with awesome musicians generally helps strengthen the overall direction of what I'm working on. Joe luckily has an extremely clear and innovative production prospective, being a writer and performer as well - he constantly reminded me to focus on the lyrics I was singing and why I was singing them. He did an awesome job producing this track around the feelings that were present at its early stages, I couldn't have asked for more.
Kat: So we at Punk Out try to connect artists with sexual identity and social awareness. Do you think artists should be forthright about issues that affect them? What issues inspire you to speak out?
April: I certainly think artists (and basically everyone) should be forthright about issues that they are passionate about - there is simply no excuse to be misinformed and indifferent anymore. There are injustices, privileges, copious amounts information and misinformation every where we turn. There are blaring truths that need to be acknowledged. These truths inspire me to speak out.
Kat: What is the last performance that really moved you?
April: Back in September I saw Muse perform at Barclays Center and I cried the whole time. I walked into Barclays, saw Dom's drum set and just wept. Not sorry. I couldn't believe I was in the same room as my favorite band of all time! They had a killer live performance, beautiful visuals, hovering drones and an army of futuristic swat team members who stormed the arena pre-performance. The theatrics heightened the entire show and I was in awe. Matt Bellamy is my live-performance idol, I want to rock arenas just like him. Those guys are legends.
Kat: If you could give your 15-year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
April: "Stop writing lyrics during math class, it'll make getting that business degree much easier"
Kat: Good luck with your release! We wish you a billion downloads!
APRIL is the lead singer of Long Islands Alt-Rock outfit, The Serotones. The singer wowed Kat Hamilton at Revolution Bar and Grill, with her enormous pipes and theatrical aesthetic. She has a rare vocal quality that is both strong and vulnerable. APRIL's music is for fans of Sia, Lana Del Rey and PVRIS. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram (@ape_vox).
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