An Interview With The Australian Musician Behind the Art-Pop Project, RVBY MY DEAR!
Posted On 24 Apr 2019
Meet the Brooklyn-based Aussie, RVBY MY DEAR. She is gearing up to release a ton of new content this year, including new music, videos, and more.
RVBY MY DEAR is the art-pop project of Gabbi Coenen, a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist originally from Perth, Western Australia, now based in Brooklyn NY. A formally trained pianist from the age of 4, Coenen formed RVBY MY DEAR as an outlet for her songwriting in late 2012, after moving to New York to attend The New School’s jazz voice program.
RVBY MY DEAR released their debut EP, Balloons, in 2014, which featured the singles “Dirt” and the title track. The band followed with the “Flourisher” single in 2015, and “Unravel” in 2016, which were featured on The Revue, Elevtrtrax, Ground Sounds and Breathe Heavy. Coenen spent the bulk of 2016 writing and recording what will be her debut album, produced by Andrew Lappin (St Lucia, Passion Pit, Jack+Eliza), mastered by Chris Gehringer (Nick Jonas/Rihanna/The 1975) and slated for release via Villainy Records in Spring 2019. A first single from the record, “10:17”, was released in 2017.
RVBY MY DEAR’s sound is influenced by 90’s British acts such as Portishead and Massive Attack, the orchestral balladry of Bjork and Fiona Apple, as well as the modern beat-driven sounds of Daughter, Beach House, James Blake, and Radiohead. The band features lush synth and guitar harmonies, propulsive electronic-inspired beats, and Coenen’s floating moody vocals. Their songs often follow a gradual crescendo, navigating the typical verse/chorus pop structure in new ways, and span genres from calm introspective ballads to aggressive guitar-heavy breakbeats and hook-laden pop anthems. Coenen’s music explores the space between quiet melancholy and simmering rage, with a cinematic sheen.
RVBY MY DEAR has performed throughout the Northeast of the USA and Los Angeles. They performed at the final CMJ Music Marathon in 2015, and were listed as one of Brightest Young Things’ “Twenty Bands We’re Hype on for Northside Festival 2017”.
Connect With RVBY MY DEAR Here:
Learn more about RVBY MY DEAR in the following All Access interview here:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
Thank you for having me! I’m in the middle of finalizing a few tour dates, so I’m currently buried in emails, plus we start rehearsing for our upcoming shows this week.
Now that we are into the 4th month of the new year, how has 2019 been treating you so far? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How are those New Years Resolutions going?
This year has been off to a busy start; I’ve been traveling quite a bit which has been tiring but fun. I went back to Australia for the holidays, then was in LA for a music video shoot, and then went to Canada for songwriting residency last month. I didn’t make any concrete resolutions this year, aside from finally releasing new music, so that’s going pretty well so far.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music was always a part of my life growing up, even though my parents aren’t musicians. My mum put me in piano lessons from age four and I added singing and bass guitar to that as I got older, and eventually went to university for jazz singing. I suppose deciding to major in music was when I decided to “be” a musician, but I’d been gigging professionally before then, so it sort of made sense to continue.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
Definitely – I love film and my younger brother acted in tons of short films and TV shows when we were growing up. Eventually I joined him on set behind the scenes doing makeup. I think that would’ve been my main career if I hadn’t decided to focus on music, and it’s something I’d love to return to one day, whether as a stylist or even going into directing. I also loved writing when I was in school (though I think exams killed that for me!) so I toyed with the idea of being a journalist for a while.
Why did you decide to go by something other then your own name? How did you come up with your name?
Not many people (outside of the Dutch-speaking world) can pronounce my last name correctly, and I didn’t want to have to constantly correct people, so that’s the main reason. I also have a career as a freelance musician under my own name, so I wanted to have a separate name to differentiate between my artistic project and my side gigs. The name comes from the tune “Ruby, My Dear” by the jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, though I changed the spelling slightly so as to not confuse the internet too much!
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
The biggest surprise has been that people actually want to work with me, whether that’s play in my band, produce my records, or play shows with me. Not to say that I’m flooded with requests for my time, but anytime someone says they like what I do I’m always pleasantly surprised. There are so many challenges, the financial and business side being the biggest one. I did become aware of the direction the industry was heading in pretty early on, so I can’t say I’m surprised, though it does make it that much harder to pursue as a career for most people. I related a lot to that recent article which interviewed several indie musicians about how they make money.
What was the inspiration for your newest single, “Draw”? How creatively involved were you with the making of the track’s music video? How would you say the song compares to the rest of your EP, “Remains”?
I’d had a weird incident of sleep paralysis towards the end of the summer of 2016, so that inspired the first verse for sure. It was a such a tumultuous time for the entire world socially and politically, so there were elements of that feeling of struggle that made their way into the following verses and chorus. I knew I wanted the video to play up the “noir”-ish vibe of the song, but it was really Frankie Turiano the director who came up with the overall “battle against the elements” concept (a smart choice given the small budget!). Sonically I think the songs on the EP each inhabit their own worlds, though most of them tend to start pretty intimate and then build to these big crescendos at the end – “Draw” definitely fits that vibe.
Do you have plans to release more new music this year?
Yes! We’ve got more singles and videos and a full-length album coming out over the next couple months.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started singing and writing songs?
I never thought I would be writing songs when I first started performing as a musician, so it’s been cool to develop that side of my work. I come from a very trained “conservatory” background, so I think nowadays I’m less concerned with whether something is “right” from a music theory perspective and more interested in whether it sounds and feels good (usually those perspectives line up, but not always). And I think my voice has grown a lot with time and committing to my own sound rather than trying to imitate other people.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
I think Instagram is my favorite, though I do love reading a good Twitter rant. It’s not easy keeping up with everything, it’s really a whole job in itself to build a social media presence. and it definitely feels like people care more about the numbers than they do about the music. I even catch myself falling into that trap sometimes when I’m checking out new stuff. But you do what you can, and it is fun to interact with people directly. It just sucks that everyone’s at the mercy of the algorithm, so even when you do post something, people might not necessarily see it.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
There’s too many to list, but for this record we took direct inspiration from Massive Attack, Portishead, Beach House, Daughter, and James Blake (oh, and Justin Bieber on one of the more pop tracks!). I continue to be inspired by singer-songwriters like Fiona Apple and Joanna Newsom, and jazz greats such as Ella and Billie. If I could collaborate with anyone, it would be Flying Lotus, Max Martin, and the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth (not all at the same time… though that might yield some interesting results!)
Where can fans see you perform next? Got any upcoming tour dates planned?
Yes! We have album release shows in New York on May 23rd and LA on July 12th, and we’ll be playing a few east and west coast dates in June and July.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
I’d love to do a visual album, so a video for every song, in a variety of different styles – something futuristic sci-fi, something more naturalistic out in the desert, something inspired by classic cinema.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you take with you and why?
Don’t make me choose! I write everything on piano so I guess that would be the most logical choice. That, or my little Casio MT100 keyboard that I bought off Ebay years ago.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
I loved The OC in high school, so I guess Riverdale is the closest thing to that! A lot of my favorite shows have actually ended recently; I would’ve loved to have had a song on You’re The Worst, or Adventure Time, or a Game of Thrones trailer. For something that’s on currently, I’d go with The Handmaid’s Tale. It would be cool to have something in the trailer for a superhero movie with a female lead too; or a James Bond film like Skyfall.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope people can find something they emotionally connect with on a deep level, whether that’s through the music itself or the lyrics or both. My favorite songs are ones which I have to listen to over and over again to explore every part of them, and I hope to end up with the same result in my own songs. Ultimately, I just try to write stuff that sounds good to me, and hope people agree!
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
You can stream and download everything on Spotify, Apple Music or Bandcamp, and all our music videos will be uploaded to our VEVO channel, so make sure you’re following and subscribed as we’ve got brand new music coming out very soon. We’re super excited to get back on the road and play live again, so make sure you’re following us on the social platform of your choice to be first to know when we’ll be heading your way!