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INTERVIEW: Gabe Dixon

Photo by Shervin Lanez

Hi Gabe, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Pretty good, thanks for asking.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “The Way To Love Me”?

“The Way To Love Me” is a song I wrote with my friend Jamie Hartman. After singing the whole song myself for a little while, I realized that the chorus would be perfect for a female voice. I wanted a singer who had a very specific vulnerable quality to her voice, and I found Natalie Prass. She fit the song perfectly. Lucky for me, she was available and happy to sing on the song!

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

This is a very personal song about a relationship in crisis. Specifically… mine, haha! I suppose that any two people who are together long enough are going to have moments that try their patience, their emotions, and even their whole relationship. The hope is that you come out on the other side of it having grown together, instead of apart. I think the important thing is to make the other person’s needs and dreams just as important as your own. Like Natalie sings in the song, “Treat my heart like it’s yours.”

Can you tell us more about the upcoming video?

We don’t know much about the upcoming video yet. We have only just settled on a videographer! However, we did just release a lyric video for another song on the album called “Holding Her Freedom.” It was beautifully shot by Patrick Tohill. http://youtu.be/yeQVWCEro4E

The single comes off your new album Turns To Gold – what’s the story behind the title?

When coming up with a title for an album, I usually put all of the lyrics in front of me, and read through them to see if any themes emerge. Sometimes a word or phrase will really stand out as being something that sums things up in a kind of way. I noticed that the phrase “turns to gold” appeared twice in the lyrics – accidentally. When I thought about it, that phrase seemed to sum up many of the themes that run through the album: maturing and becoming a better person, and learning how to love more truly. Maybe it’s my heart turning to gold, or maybe it’s a winding path to a golden sunset. Maybe both. I’m not sure, but somehow the title makes sense to me.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote songs for a couple of years before I felt like I had the right ones for this album. That’s usually how writing works with me. Some songs feel more true and authentic to me than others. The recording process went much more quickly than that. I rounded up some of my favorite musicians to record the basic tracks with me: Drummer Jano Rix, who I have been making music with for many, many years (we were roommates at the University Of Miami and bandmates for years after that), Viktor Krauss on bass, and Kris Donegan on guitar. The producer, Paul Moak, also played guitar and keyboards. We didn’t rehearse beforehand or anything. Those guys are so good, that I new I could show them the songs on the same day that we recorded them, and they would knock it out of the park, and they did! We knew the songs only well enough to serve the song, and not any more that that. That’s when the magic can happen. And after that week of band recording, we did a couple of weeks of recording vocals and overdubs, and then we were pretty much done recording, and ready for mixing.

What was it like to work with Paul Moak and how did that relationship develop?

I met Paul on a blind songwriting “date” in 2013, and I was really impressed by his studio, the sounds he got, and his whole aesthetic. When it came time to pick a producer, I talked with him about the fact that I wanted to make a more roots-y, natural-sounding album, and that I wanted to record to analog tape. He seemed to be exactly on the same page with me as we talked through songs, so I knew we would work well together.

His studio has more “vibe” than just about anywhere else I’ve recorded. I mean, you walk in, and it’s so dark that your eyes have to take a few seconds to adjust, and then you smell the incense, and see all of the mystical-looking saints and crosses and funky odds and ends and trinkets, and the turntable, and then you walk into the control room/studio and there are like a gazillion guitars and keyboards, and drums, and percussion instruments. It’s easy to be transported into the music when working there, and Paul’s presence only helps to cultivate that. I had a great time working with him.

After 15 years on major labels, why did you decide to drop out and leave on your own?

I wanted to try something different. Many of my friends have been releasing independent albums for years, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! I have loved the process of connecting with my fans through crowd-funding. Also, there aren’t as many “cooks in the kitchen” on the creative side of things, which is kind of nice. Not to mention the fact that this will be the first recording that I have owned more than 10% of. So that’s one perk of being independent!

Would this album then be a departure of what we’ve come to know you for?

I don’t think so. It’s a bit less pop-sounding than the last album, and less of a trio sound than the Gabe Dixon Band album, and not as jazz-influenced as “On A Rolling Ball,” but it’s still me singing and writing my own songs, so it’s not a complete departure, it just represents more of where I am in my life now.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Who, Paul? We were very much on the same page as far as the sound and direction, so I often felt like a co-producer. There were a couple of things he pushed for and a couple of things I pushed for. All in all, the push-pull worked to the album’s benefit. Paul also added some really cool guitar effects, and some great B3 organ playing. And bringing Kris Donegan in to play guitar was his idea. And Paul also mixed the album.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! We have several dates booked now, and are adding more all the time!

What else is happening next in Gabe Dixon’s world?

I write a lot of songs, and some of them are recorded by other people, so you might hear one of my songs one day and not even know it! I also play keyboards and sing with other people from time to time, when it’s an artist I like. For example, last week I played a piano on a recording session with the amazing CeCe Winans, and next week I’ll be playing keyboards with Sam Lewis at his set at the Ryman Auditorium opening for Chris Stapleton. That’ll be fun!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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