Exactly one year since our last piece on touring, we’re thrilled to unveil some concrete news and plans from prolific touring singer-songwriter Gab De La Vega, who has just announced a string of Canadian dates (see below) and first details on his new album, as well as transformation to a full band project! Learn more about it and dive into a story of an inspiring solo artist in our interview below.
06.19 – Toronto, ON – The Boat
06.20 – Guelph, ON – TBC
06.21 – Ajax, ON – Rotilicius
06.22 – Cambridge, ON – The Krusty Burger
06.23 – Oshawa, ON – The Atria
06.24 – Peterborough, ON – TBC
06.25 – Montreal, QC – Barfly
06.26 – Levis, QC – Anthony’s Warped Salon
06.27 – Trois Rivieres, QC – Le Stage
06.28 – Sherbrooke, QC – Le Murdoch
06.29 – Ottawa, ON – Cafe Dekcuf
So, Gab, another year has passed, and you seem to be unrelentlessly committed to travelling, touring and performing live for more and more people around the globe. How were these last couple of months? What places have you visited and what trips were your most favored?
Hey friends and readers at IDIOTEQ! It’s nice to be back! The last few months saw me record a new album, play only one show in Italy (a charity show for Amnesty International in Milan) and a short tour in Germany at the end of May. The down side is that I haven’t played much, but the good news is that I got to focus on what’s next and also those shows I played were very nice; I finally got to play some new songs from the new unreleased album! Germany is always fun to play and I have good friends there; it’s a nice excuse to hang out with them.
Last tour before this was South America, in September / October 2018 and it was also an amazing experience. Of course they are very different games, but I’m glad and honored I had the chance to play both.
How much do places you traveled influence you and your work, and what was your latest destinations’ contribution to your work?
They have a tremendous impact on me. Personally and mentally of course, but also when it comes to music production, playing different places, with different audiences and different tastes helps you shape what you want to play for yourself as well as for the people that you might end up playing for.
I can see there’s been a clear evolution in my music along the years and that’s mostly because of the many tours and the many shows I’ve played. It’s kinda obvious to say, but when you do something many times over and over again, you end up getting better at it, especially when you come out of your comfort zone, which happens to me a lot, every time I try to push my boundaries further and further in terms of touring and music production.
How did this heavy touring effect your mentality and mindset?
It has some very positive aspects and some, let’s say, “negative” ones.
The good ones are definitely about being open minded and projecting yourself towards the outer world. The more I see of this World, the more people I meet and interact with, the more I become aware of the many aspects of life, generally speaking. I’m always looking forward to the next thing, which is great, because it makes me feel like there’s a purpose in what I do, but on the other hand it might generate some anxiety, instability, stress, especially because I book all my tours myself, so I can only rely on my work, my time and my ability to make the best out of it. It means spending a lot of time at the computer, sending out emails and messages and sometimes it feels like this big amount of work takes away time from more important things in my life. This feeling disappears once I’m on the road and I see the result of such work, though, so it’s always worth it, but I hope to make the process smoother in the future so it generates less friction in my days.
Do you think there were some experiences, creative flairs, factors or characteristics of your environment years ago that influenced you and made you such an active person you are?
Definitely. I grew up in the Italian DIY hardcore scene and that’s where I met many of the most inspiring creators, artists, musicians or simply friends. After I while I got in touch with other scenes from all over Europe and I’ve always liked how many things were just the same, but others were completely different and I always got to pick them and learn from these differences.
Italy has always been a place where forms of arts cold flourish. Sometimes you really have to dig a bit to find them, because mainstream culture is kind of suffocating, especially nowadays, but it’s always there. To create, to do something with what you have, as always been important in the environment I grew up in and that always pushed me to do my part, for myself as well as for the other people who might appreciate it.
Have you had a lot of time to compose some new tracks? How is the process for you these days? Also, how has putting together new music changed for you over the years?
Apart from my single I Want Nothing, which came out in 2017, my previous full length album came out in 2015, which means that most of the songs were written probably in 2014. I had the chance to tour a lot since then and that definitely helped me step up my songwriting skills, no doubt. In the last two years I’ve been writing new songs, which are more mature than the old ones. They ended up being record between December 2018 and January 2019 and they are going to be on my new album. It’s is going to be a “full band” one, with only 2 acoustic songs. I tried to write songs that would work both when performed with a band as well as an acoustic solo act. That was always my intention and I think I succeeded. Then I also got my friend Marco “Cello” Cellini involved on drums, who contributed to the writing of the drums parts. And finally, when I hit the studio, I worked for many days with Simone Piccinelli, great music producer and musician, who has always contributed to my music production, and we put our minds together to write full band arrangements, starting from what I had in mind.
I definitely work more on my songs now than I used in the past, both when I’m writing them and when I’m producing them in the studio. It’s part of the aforementioned evolution, I suppose!
Will you be recording new songs with the full band, or will it be a solution for live appearances only?
I Want Nothing worked as a test, it allowed me to explore the possibilities that come with a full band. The new songs have already been recorded and they are gonna come out on my next album. As for live performances, I confirm that I’m going to start performing with a backing band as well as keep playing solo shows and tours.
Ok, so getting back to your new tracks for a while, lyrics wise, are there some specific issues or themes you set out to highlight on your new record?
I wanted these new songs to be 100% me, even more than before. They are me, unfiltered, sometimes raw, sometimes processed, but they are very intimate and personal in a way, although they are also very outspoken about some topics. What happens around me, around all of us, influences me in my songwriting. We live in a plastic society, fake and pretentious sometimes, while we keep ourselves busy with petty things we have people dying at sea simply because they are trying to live their lives; then we have fascism and nationalism on the rise all over Europe and the World, despite what happened in (quite recent) history because of them. Sometimes it feels like it’s hard to have our say and put our feet down and say “No!” in front of the injustice, especially because sometimes life kicks our ass very hard and people around you don’t seem to sympathize anymore with each other, on the contrary, they take part in the beating, which leads to the feelings of being lost, depressed or simply resigned. Then there’s the need to express ourselves, to bring joy, critical thinking, emotions in our lives, through art and music and human interactions, there’s love in its purest form and finally there’s hope, for the future, for what comes next, which gives everything a meaning, eventually. All this and more is going to be in my new album.
Can you share some more details about the record, possible release date, labels involved, etc.?
I really can’t now, I am currently trying to get some good labels involved; I think it’s objectively a good record and it’s not necessarily meant to be confined to the hardcore or punk rock community. That’s why I’m trying to broaden my horizons with it. I’m sure it can be appreciated by a wider audience. Of course, if people in the hardcore and punk rock communities like it, I’m happy!
I can give you something juicy though: keep an eye out as I’m going to play my very fist full band show this summer… and it’s an incredibly good one!
Gab, you are often introduced as a folk rocker, folk punk rocker, sing / songwriter, etc., which seems fitting for some of your work, but it’s probably a bit shallow for describing your music as a whole. How do you think about labeling and genres in general, and how would you describe the music to someone, who has not heard it before?
I think labeling really got out of hand in music. Now we’ve got at least thirty different sub-labels for hardcore punk music, and then you have pretty much the same amount for any other type of music. It comes in handy when you need to make clear what a band sounds like right away, but on the other hand it’s reductive and divisive and it kind of limits people’s creativity, when they might not feel comfortable going beyond the boundaries that such genres define.
Even for my music, I’ve heard so many different types of labels and none of them fits 100% right in my opinion. If I had to try, I’d say I am a singer-songwriter, with a hardcore punk background, who plays something between acoustic folk and indie rock with a punk rock vibe. But again, this makes me feel constricted in a description that doesn’t really fit completely. How about I say I sound just like Gab De La Vega? That would be accurate! (Eheh!)
Could you tell us about some recent records and artists that bring you inspiration?
I listen to a lot of old stuff, but if you want something outside of my hardcore punk listenings, I think you should definitely check out the most recent Noel Gallagher‘s High Flying Birds, Tim Barry, Frank Turner, Against Me!, City And Colour, Brian Fallon, Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. I’m not sure it’s right to say they brought me inspiration, but I love these artists and their music and I love picking what I like from everyone’s songwriting and art.
Ok, so finally, let’s touch on your upcoming Canadian tour. What’s your relationship with the country? Have you been to Canada before?
I love Canada, I have family in Toronto and I’m currently in Toronto as I’m replying to this interview. I’ve been here before, and I’ve also toured Canada with my friend Greg Rekus, an amazing solo musician, super funny dude and great vegan food expert from Winnipeg (check out the interview I had with him here on IDIOTEQ!). Those shows across Quebec and Ontario were very nice and I had a great time. I met a lot of good people then and even this time I’ve been in touch with very nice people who I didn’t know who helped me book this tour. I’m very excited about this tour. I’ll be on my own this time. I have a few shows across Ontario and then a few others in Quebec. It’s gonna be great and I’m also going to play some new unreleased songs: I’m looking forward to testing them here in Canada!
What places will you be visiting? What do you expect from this tour?
This time it’s going to be Toronto, Guelph (tbc), Ajax, Cambridge, Oshawa, Peterborough (tbc), Montreal, Levis, Trois Le Rivieres or Quebec City (tbc) and Ottawa.
I expect a lot of fun, nice people and a great experience for my music career. As a DIY musician from Europe, touring Canada means a lot. I never thought it could happen when I first started playing music. Who would have thought!? I’m sure it’s going to help me grow. There’s always something to learn out of any tour.
Do you have a favourite type of place to play? What kind of original and unusual venues best suited your music?
It always depends on the crowd, not the venue itself, I think. If they enjoy it, then I also enjoy it. I have played tons of different venues; house shows are great, they have this special thing, when someone comes you greet them as if you were the host and then after the show you spend some time together. I’ve also played record stores and skate shops. The venue made it special, but the people made it great. It’s always about the people, when you play an acoustic guitar. Full band is different, I guess. We’ll see what happens when that happens!
What would you wish the audience comprehend after seeing or your performance?
I always want them to leave the shows with something more than before. Whether it is something to think about, a song to sing in the shower, some good memories… It’s all part of the human experience and I just want people to get something good out of the encounter with me and my music.
Thank you so much Gab! Thanks for your time and good luck on your upcoming tour! Cheers from Warsaw!
Thank you for your never-ending support and for your interest in my music and my tours. Canada: see you on the road! Let’s make it a tour to remember!