Get To Know Jack Gaby & His New Single, 'Riot'

Get To Know Jack Gaby & His New Single, 'Riot'

A member of Stella Donnelly’s band and longtime fixture of the local scene, we get to know the Naarm-via-Boorloo artist and his debut solo single

You might not be familiar with his name, but if you were a fan of the broader Boorloo “indie” scene in the mid 2010s to early 2020s or have seen Stella Donnelly play live in the last five or so years, you’ve probably enjoyed the work of one Jack Gaby.

A fixture of the local scene, Gaby played in some of the city’s finest emerging acts, including Spaceman, Dream Rimmy, Dumbleachers and Haircare, before joining Stella Donnelly’s band on guitar, touring the world and playing on her sophomore album, Flood (that made our Top 10 Aussie Albums of 2022 list).

Now the time is right for Gaby to step out in solo mode, having just released his debut single, Riot. A cut of self-proclaimed ‘fairy rock’, Riot is a jangly slice of indie pop-rock goodness, showcasing Jack’s skills as a songwriter and musician with a knack for crafting addictive melodies and wistful atmospheres. With his band featuring Stella Donnelly (Uno reverse styles) and Marcel Tussie of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Riot is the first taste of Gaby’s forthcoming five track EP, set for release later this year.

To celebrate the release of Riot, we caught up with Jack to get to know him and his new project a little better:

For those unfamiliar with you, could you tell us a bit about your musical journey so far?

I was born and raised in the Boorloo scene, with role models POND and Tame Impala as huge influences on my teenage self. At the time there was a huge psychedelic scene in Perth. I lived in big, festering share-houses with friends and eventual band-mates, we went on to form bands such as Spaceman, Dream Rimmy, Dumbleachers and more recently, Haircare.

My pivot into a more indie, singer-songwriter space was when singer Stella Donnelly asked me to play with her for the 'Beware Of The Dogs' world tour. This was an absolute dream come true for me and I learnt so much about songwriting and confidence from her. I’m in awe of her if I'm honest. She pushed me to sing harmonies and I was constantly out of my comfort zone. I really think this experience gave me the kick I needed to branch out on my own.

How long has releasing music under your own name been on the cards for now?

For aaaaaaaages! I've ALWAYS wanted to. I could never find a way to make my voice sit on a track. I took a very long time to find my voice and to find the music that was meant for me. I'm a strong believer that an artist's best work comes out completely unforced and uncontrollably, almost as if from an external force. I struggled to tune into this wavelength.

Because I was never confident in my voice, I always started by producing a track on my laptop and then tried to fit vocals over the top. This works for some people but not for me. It wasn't until I stripped everything away and sat down in a rehearsal room with just a guitar and mic that I realised, this is how I'm supposed to write. I wish I had tried that sooner!

You’ve been playing and touring with Stella Donnelly for a while now, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned from the experience?

I'm always in awe of her confidence, and that much confidence has to rub off a bit. Performing alongside her so many times, I've learned how to channel the anxious pre-show nerves into excitement, which biologically speaking are very similar.

Stella is a powerhouse of a songwriter, and she's taught me that if an idea feels right, then it's worth blocking out all the negative thoughts (mine, for example, are 'it's too simple', or, 'the chords are too basic', or, the worst one, ‘it’s just not cool’) and to trust the process and follow the feeling. It may not sound good right now, but have faith in the end result.

Tell us about your new single ‘Riot’?

The lyrics to ‘Riot’ are a tongue-in-cheek, love song to activists and revolutionaries that shape our world for the better. I have so much respect for these people.

This track was originally my least favourite, from the shortlist for the EP. I was very close to chucking it. Stella and my other bandmate Marcel, insisted it was worth pursuing, they really helped me get it over the line. Reflecting on the previous question, I guess I had a bit of a battle with the negative thoughts, but we got through in the end!

You’ve got some talented mates in your live band including Stella Donnelly and Marcel Tussie of RCBF, how does that impact the dynamic of the band?

It’s funny actually, I very much have a submissive personality, definitely not a natural-born leader. Sometimes there are moments where a decision needs to be made and I have to say to myself ‘Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be leading this thing’. But it is so great for me, as someone who doesn’t take charge easily, to have such experienced musicians to bounce ideas off and help guide rehearsals. We are all so comfortable with each other and no one feels any resistance to throw out ideas or changes, and I value that so much.

How’s the live show feeling at this stage?

Good! The live show is a lot more raw and stripped-back than the recordings. But, for now at least, I kinda like that. I’ve been playing with Stella and Marcel for years now so we are very comfortable with each other on stage. Grace Goodwin also plays keys with us and she fits in seamlessly and has a beautiful singing voice. For my launch shows, I plan to have another player, to flesh it out and recreate all the ‘cherry on top’ moments from the EP.

‘Riot’ comes alongside a cool DIY music video - how did that come together?

When I made this video, I had just moved across Australia and funds were tight. I knew I’d need to film it on my iPhone because it’s all I had in the way of a camera. I came up with the idea to film projected images essentially to get away with using such a basic camera, I knew a hi-fi cinematic look wouldn’t fly. I’ve also always loved analogue video, like projectors, old TVs and VHS, so I had heaps of fun experimenting. I probably got bitten by at least 200 mosquitos during the shoot.

You recently did the classic Boorloo to Naarm move, how are you settling in over there so far?

I’m loving it! It’s always hard at first, finding a job and a place to live, but now that’s done, I’m really enjoying it here. There will always be a place in my heart for Boorloo, it’s made me who I am today, but I have the unfortunate curse of requiring constant novelty, so a big shiny new city is really doing it for me.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

‘Riot’ is the first song from a 5 track EP coming later this year.

What have you been listening to lately?

I’ve lately been into what I’ve recently learned is called ‘bubblegrunge’, essentially a poppier version of 90s grunge/alternative music, artists like Soccer Mommy, Marika Hackman, Snail Mail and Japanese Breakfast. Also, shout out to the latest album from Naarm boys Good Morning.

Jack Gaby's new single Riot is out now

Jack Gaby Riot artwork

Upcoming Shows

Fri April 12 - The Tote - Collingwood

Supporting Girl And Girl

Follow Jack Gaby: Instagram / Facebook

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