Gabbi Coenen’s art-pop project, RVBY MY DEAR, has been in the works for quite some time. Born and raised in Perth, Australia, Coenen moved to Brooklyn back in 2012 as a student of the jazz voice program at The New School in New York City. In order to give herself an outlet for her songwriting, she created RVBY MY DEAR and has been releasing EPs and singles under the name ever since. She recently her latest EP Remains, featuring three new tracks, including the poetic lead single “10:17.”She also just released the music video for her new single “Draw,” which showcases the cinematic quality the songstress ties into her music. She has an upcoming show at the Bowery Electric in New York City on May 23rd and is set to release her debut full-length album later this spring. The Young Folks had the opportunity to catch up with Coenen on what she’s been working on and what else we can look forward to from RVBY MY DEAR. Check out the full interview below:
TYF: Has your writing process changed at all from when you first started writing for RVBY MY DEAR?
I’ve always started with the music first, whether it’s a chord progression or a bass line or a melody, so that much hasn’t changed. However when I first started writing songs I was still considering myself primarily a jazz singer, so I would add in a lot of contrasting sections and room for solos and improvisation, just because I thought that’s what I had to do to fit into that genre. I’ve become much better about editing the songs, though I do still get caught up in excess fairly often. I also get the computer involved much earlier now; I start everything on piano but I’ll try to flesh out other instrumental parts in Logic rather than just keeping it all in my head.
TYF: Can you describe the moment you decided to move to Brooklyn from Australia?
I have family who moved from Australia to the US about ten years ago, so pretty much as soon as they left I was dead-set on following them once I finished my music degree back home. That took a couple more years, then once I graduated I visited New York for a couple of weeks and went to a ton of gigs, so my mind was made up.
TYF: What kind of new projects you have coming out this year?
There are two more music videos in the pipeline and a full-length album coming this spring!
TYF: Where do you find inspiration when you’re writing new music?
Mostly new music from other artists, films, books, video game soundtracks, traveling to different places and countries. There’s a lot to be mined from life in general, so constantly seeking out new works of art or places helps me to find new ways to essentially say the same things. Any time I hear a phrase or a melody I try to record it in some form, I keep a huge list on my notes and voice memo apps.
TYF: What themes do you typically lean towards when you’re writing lyrics?
I often jokingly describe my style as “sad girl pop,” which I think pretty much sums it up – lots of personal feelings and emotions, often shrouded in metaphor or imagery, but hopefully with an element of accessibility that people can connect to. I wrote a lot of the songs on the record while I was waiting for my work visa to be approved, so that unintentionally became the theme of it.
TYF: How do you think your formal training in music has influenced you creatively?
A few ways – when I hear another person’s song I’m able to figure out what it is that I like about it very quickly, and adapt it for my own stuff, whether that’s the chords or the beat or the melodic parts. I think my jazz and classical voice training has probably influenced the overall sound of my voice and the approach I take to singing, plus learning all those jazz standards in college has definitely influenced the sorts of harmonies and chords that I tend to gravitate towards. Most importantly, I’m able to communicate more easily with other musicians, in that I don’t need another person to act as a “translator” for what I’m hearing, I can just notate it myself.
TYF: Do you have any musical influences that some people might find surprising?
Oh there’s a few bands I listened to in high school that I should probably be ashamed of… I was a hardcore Green Day super fan for about two years back then, which was actually a really fun time (and I still rate a couple of their albums as some of my all time favorites). I’m also really into this band from Rhode Island called Daughters, who make experimental noise/industrial/punk music that’s somehow insanely abrasive and beautifully cinematic all at once. Their latest album was my favorite record of 2018.
TYF: How would you say that the work you’re gearing up to release this year reflects where you are creatively?
That’s a tough question, as the majority of the album was both written and recorded way back in 2016, so I’ve kind of been in a creative limbo for the last couple years. Though in recent weeks I’ve been checking out some newer music and feeling more inspired to finish some new songs. I’m really proud of this record but I’m looking forward to getting it out there and moving on to the next thing.
TYF: Did you set any new years resolutions for yourself for 2019? If you did, how are they going for you?
Not really! Though I think something I’ve been dwelling on for a while is not letting other people or factors get in the way of what I want to achieve creatively. I’ve wasted a lot of energy on trying to please other people, so I guess in a way my resolution was to not do that anymore, and so far I think it’s working out. That, and read more books and spend less time on my phone!