Gabby Young and Other Animals have stormed onto the music scene with their highly acclaimed debut album, 'We're all in this together'. She's a real stunner,with a voice as loud as her hair- have a read then follow the links to hear what she can do, or head to the Borderline tonight for the last gig of her tour.
How did you find your identity as Gabby Young and Other Animals?
I was originally in a band at home in Wiltshire where you're lucky if you get a choice of five musicians to form a band, and so I got 4 likely lads to form The Gabby Young Collective, and we were pretty much a rock band. From the start I knew it wasn't really the kind of music I wanted to be doing; covers of Rage Against The Machine really weren't my thing! So the moment I could escape to London and get a double bass player and trumpets and a sax I was like a kid in a sweetshop, there were so many talented musicians to choose from.
How did the Animals element come about?
I'd gone through so many ridiculous names- Gabby Young Has New Friends, Gabby Young Has A Band! But then on a visit home I saw my favourite childhood book, 'My family and other animals' and though-perfect!
You've received a lot of praise from people at the Evening standard and Sky TV for your 'Become an Animal' scheme- how did you come up with the idea; was it a reaction to the recession?
No it wasn't related to recession at all; we were invited to go to South by South West which was such an amazing opportunity, but we had to turn it down because we didn't have the money. It really made me think, this makes no sense; we have to find a way to build funds somehow- we are lucky to have a very loyal, very generous fan base, so we decided to get them involved officially- that way we get some income and a database which helps us to get to know the fans, so if we end up playing a gig in Liverpool for example, we can say, you're a bear, you're from Liverpool come to this gig for free!
What animal are you?
I'm not officially an animal cos its supposed to be 'Gabby Young and other animals', but I'd definitely be a mole; some of my first material was called Mole, it was a bit of a childhood obsession. I think I love the mystery- no-one really sees moles, we just know they're there cos we see the mole hills they leave behind.
Amazon ranked you 36th in their list of 100 outstanding albums you might have missed this year- are you aiming to reach those who missed you, to crack the mainstream?
I'm very happy where I am but there are definitely ambitions I have that fall into a more mainstream category- I'd love to play on Jools Holland! But I'm quite Jekyll and Hyde about it, there's a side of me side that doesn't want to be governed by fame, I'd probably have to change my music for the mainstream- I don't think what we do right now would necessarily be successful in the world of pop, but I don't want to close any doors- the most success you can hope for in this industry is to be on all the airwaves, but at same time I'm not about to wait about for instructions on what I should be doing to get there. I actually hope people are coming to a more open minded place when it comes to music, people like Florence and the Machine aren't traditional pop and probably wouldn't have been able to knock R&B off the charts two or three years ago. I feel like I'm coming along at an exciting time, especially for female musicians; we're being allowed to be more creative. I definitely don't ever want to get to a point where I feel like 'Ive made it' and there's no further to go, I don't really have any family aspirations so career is it for me. I originally trained as an opera singer – so maybe it would be fun to go back to opera eventually. Success is ultimately about being happy, whatever you're doing, if its making you happy then however much you're earning, its a success. I think the X factor generation can be dangerous- people who've never done a gig before get landed with stardom, but don't know what to do with it. Working your way to wherever you think the top is must be so much healthier. I've been working in music for eight years and I've learnt so much; early on people promised to make me a star, offering me contracts, but I knew I wasn't ready; I didn't want to have who I became dictated to me, I've been much happier learning my craft along the way.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Out of all the female musicians around at the moment, I'm really rooting for Marina and The Diamonds- I love her sound! I'm also a fan of Laura Marling, and the band Revere.
(Gabby and me after her album launch at Bush Hall)
You have a very distinctive look that's got you photographed by Rankin, and you write your own style blog; what influences the way you look- at what point did you think , pink hairs for me!
I've dyed my hair since I was about 11, I was never happy with the way it looked, but when I finally found this shade I thought, this is it- this is the most natural hair colour for me! I've always loved pushing the boat out fashion wise,I adored that swan dress Bjork wore to the Oscars- fashion should be fun, creative and interesting,there's something great about not giving a damn. I never thought; 'I'm going to create a look', but I've just picked up pieces along the way- I love vintage clothes and during this tour I've been doing at Vintage stores, I've often been allowed to take my pick of stock which is amazing. And I borrowed some amazing clothes from Vintage Secret for my last video and for the shoot with Rankin. It's hard to find the funds to create the sort of look I'd really want to wear on stage. But having a hair and make up artist is incredible- Jennifer Nash comes to gigs with me and creates incredible looks that get me really excited- this week she painted a huge orchid on my face, and I even had lights in my hair at the album launch at Bush Hall. I used to wear jeans to gigs, but as soon as I wore a dress, I realised fans like you to make an effort, its a show after all, they appreciate when thoughts gone into it, and it creates an experience beyond the music.
At Bush Hall you'd had some show-stopping pieces made for you by Rosa Bloom;
Yes, she's a friends sister, Bush Hall was our first collaboration. When I went to meet her she had some ideas which showed she has me down to a T; its so exciting to have stuff made for you- for one thing I don't have to worry what am I going to wear, but its also really flattering that someone is inspired enough by your music and personality to create something for you. Hopefully I'm going to be collaborating further with Rosa and Hung Munga to create an online shop of customised pieces that reflect my style; its going to be called Gabberdasher!
The final night of Gabby's Tour is tonight at Borderline; expect a Christmas special!