INTERVIEW: Gizelle Smith

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

Hey thanks for having me! I’ve been great – busy preparing for my album release

Can you talk to us more about your song “Sweet Memories”?

I’m sure everyone has had an encounter that they can’t forget. Well this song is about a very short, illicit affair with someone you shouldn’t have done and the distraction and frustration the reverie and flashbacks cause.

Did any event inspire you to write this song?


How was the filming process and experience behind the music video?

Two words: FUCKING FREEEEEZING!! We were only supposed to film for one day and the day we chose was a beautifully sunny but cold October day. It was mostly bearable whilst filming the static shots until we did the rain shots… super entertaining. Two of my homies were stood out of shot, spraying water over me from two fertiliser spray bottles, whilst my producer ran between the pair, frantically pumping air into them to keep the flow of water steady. So the opening shot of the video, you see me shivering from hypothermia and shivering from laughter at what was going on. We decided to shoot a second day because whilst we were editing, we realised we didn’t have enough b-reel to cut to, so we filmed all the walking/running and driving performance shots. You can see how cold it was from my breath in the air and my red nose 😀 Zero degrees.

How was the recording and writing process?

Pretty casual mostly. Def Stef (my producer) went a few times to a rehearsal room with the guys and brought back some rough instrumental ideas of songs, which we then developed together. We’re pretty much on the same page in terms of musical influences, whilst at the same time, both bringing an angle that’s very different to each other. We didn’t talk too much about the direction we wanted to head in; the inception of the album was very much ‘let’s see what comes out after a few years away’ and we just played around and watched the songs evolve. I then dug deep to write all the vocals and horn lines.

What role does the Manchester play in your writing?

On a day to day level, none really. I’ve lived in London for 9 years and before that I studied in Bournemouth.

How has your upbringing influenced your music?

 I’ve wanted to follow in my biological father’s footsteps and be a performer from the day I took on my physical form and luckily I was exposed to a plethora of musical genres: Motown, soul and funk being a huge one, but everything down musical theatre, country, classical, Polish folk music… it’s all in there and trained my ear to quite specific details which are the staples for my music: intricate harmonies, rhythms, orchestration and arrangements .

 But from a developmental point of view, there was always an air of ambivalence from my mother and stepfather towards my career path. My musical interests were supported and I was bought many musical instruments as a child but weirdly, no one thought to buy me any lessons, so I spent a lot of time tinkering on them alone and teaching myself. I developed a lot of bad habits that I think hampered my early artistic development in many ways because I had all this music inside me but no tools to get it out.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working in your own?

Yep. I take myself way too seriously when I work alone. It’s like constantly staring at a magnifying mirror. I become quite introverted and start obsessing over tiny details.

I’ve found collaborations always bring something unexpected. My vibration definitely raises when working with certain people. The combining of two energies brings a new way of analysing the world and your surroundings so causes a new creative outpouring. I sing a bit differently, my lyric style shifts… I guess to meet in the middle, with my collaborator’s ideas. When it’s a remote collaboration, I essentially care less in the sense that everything is approached in a more light-hearted way so the writing process is often quicker, easier.

Can you talk a bit about the recording process of your new album Ruthless Day and when is it due out?

We recorded 8 instrumentals at a great studio in South End called Big Noise. It’s an analogue studio and we took 2 or 3 days to record. We then had a couple of sessions to record the horns at our studio in West London, along with synth and percussion overdubs and finally, I spent 6 months recording all the vocal lines with my 500 tracks of bvs. It wasn’t actually 6 months, but it sure felt like it! I usually record my vocals in the dark too, so it was like hibernating but without the benefit of being asleep, ha. I don’t enjoy being in the studio much.

Anyway, two of the songs on there were co-written by a wicked Russian funk band called the Soul Surfers and they recorded their instrumentals at their place in Moscow.

The album will be out 30th March 2018

Any plans to hit the road?

I have every plan to hit the road. We kick off the album tour mid March, starting in France. My actual album launch is 24th March at Archspace in London.

What else is happening next in Gizelle Smith´ world?

I’m learning to play bass. I have a short-scale Ibanez, which is not your typical funk bass guitar but it’s perfect for me right now. I’ve given myself a year to learn to sing and play together and then I’m taking it to the streets. Maybe I’ll start filming and documenting that…

Watch Sweet Harmonies video here

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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