Can you briefly introduce yourself and give some highlights of your musical career thus far?
My name is Gabriel Lynch. I'm a singer songwriter from Australia. I've been performing for some fifteen years and have been lucky enough to independently record and release a handful of records. I've also performed all across Austraila and toured throughout Europe and South East Asia. The highlights are always the shows, and among those that stand out, being a featured artist at Singapore's MOSAIC music festival a couple of years back (alongside my heroes Elbow and Architecture in Helsinki) was definitely a stand out.
Another great joy of my career so far has been collaboration with artists from around the world. I've played and performed alongside Iceland's Svavar Knutur, Singapore's Charlie Lim and Jonathan Meur and - most recently, in Kuala Lumpur) United States ex-pats, Juny Brothers. I'm also one half of an EDM duo called Stray Nation.
Where do you see your career in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
I suppose I see myself doing what I have always done. I would think I'll release plenty of music in that time (and hopefully collaborate further with as many artists as I am able). I also hope to continue to tour regularly. Playing is my great passion, and I want to cover as much of the globe as I can. I've had Japan and the US in my sights, and I hope that I can find an audience in both those countries. I recently started work as a composer at Maveriq Studios in Kuala Lumpur which means I am now able to steadily work on my own music while keeping my songwriting skills in check. Writing on demand isn't easy, but it's excellent practice and I think will dramatically impact the way I approach my own music. My hope is that in 10 or 20 years I might be able to devote virtually 100% of my time to my own music (be that in a studio, or on the road). But honestly, if I can just continue to get by on music - in any capacity - I'll always be happy.
Do you have a particular marketing strategy or do you just play music and hope for best?
It's a constant 'play-it-by-ear' situation for me. I now have a little more support than I did say 12 months ago. I have people taking care of certain aspects of what I do (publishing, some help organising shows, etc.). But it still remains a very grass-roots approach. I tend to focus my energy on the small steps along the way. If I'm releasing a new song, I enlist the help of everyone I can to hit up the appropriate sources (music blogs, social media, some press and radio, etc.). If I'm touring I target the places I'm heading to particularly and make as much noise about the fact I'm coming as possible. It is getting easier as I now have such a strong support network in most of the places I go. So I suppose the short answer is, no, I don't really have a strategy. But my firm belief is that the people who follow me at all have seen me performing in person. That and the power of word of mouth. They're the two most important ways by which I've made connections with new fans.
I think they are. I get the feeling that there's a lot of reservation among some musicians (particularly indie musicians) about formats like Spotify and Tidal. But I suppose it's exciting to think that those platforms to have certain features that allow people to quickly access your music (without commitment) and even discover you vicariously through tools like 'playlists' or 'you may also like...' features. Will I make millions from Spotify? No. Do I make millions selling music online anyway? Nope. I think the best any musician can hope for at my level is that the internet serves as a means by which people can discover you. It's the times when those people wind up coming to my shows when I'm in town that counts the most. And it's always at my shows when I sell records. The live aspect has always been the most important in my experience.
If you could meet any musician living or dead who would it be and what would you ask them?
I think Elliot Smith would be a fascinating person to talk to. I've read he wasn't a particularly extraverted person so it might be hard work. But if I had to ask him anything, I'd probably ask him what emotions drive him the most to write music. A lot of people would argue it's sadness or depression. But I think that he was as hopeful as anybody else in his songs. Hearing an answer of any sort would be a comfort. He seemed to have a deeper insight into the human condition than many other musicians I've loved over the years.
What was the process for writing the last album All of Us? Didn't you crowdsource song ideas?
That's right. Some of the songs came from a campaign where I offered to write songs for anyone who helped me finance some of the costs involved in recording. Some of the best songs that came from the suggestions of those people made it onto the record. It was a very different approach because it meant I wasn't writing about myself from start to finish. I had to, in a lot of cases, very sensitively write about these deeply personal experiences that belonged to other people. I think the exercise strengthened my ability to write a great deal. Finding the way to connect my music to an individual's story or idea was a challenge but the result is an album that is less about me and more about the common threads that seem to link us together. At least that's how I feel about it.
Well I suppose I love all of it. The songwriting is the part that leads to recording. Having a recording is often a catalyst to book a tour or a show. But really, when it's all said and done, there's nowhere I love to be than on a stage sharing my music with anyone who's willing to listen. I can be a particularly awkward person at the best of times, but performing is the one time I truly feel that I get to say exactly what I meant to say. And I do that by singing my songs. From a musical point of view, I also thrive on the thrill of the unexpected. In a live setting, anything can go. Even if I've played something thirty times before, I'll still find something exciting or new about that song. Particularly if it's being shared with other instrumentalists.
What do you want people to get from the music?
Whatever they want really. I guess there are a thousand ways you can interpret any song or any musician's work. For me, I suppose the only thing I hope carries across is that it's generally sincere. If I've written it, then I really meant it. What they make of my songs is up to them, but I always hope my material has the mark of honesty on it. That's the common link between most of the artists (irrespective of genre) that I idolise and admire.
What do you think you the secret to a successful music career is?
I think the number one thing is perseverance. So many people in artistic fields lose stamina or become disheartened over time. How many people do you meet who say that at one point or another they were a photographer or in a band. In my mind, the longer you keep with something, the better you'll be come, the greater the odds become that you will strike great opportunities. I have gone through many episodes where I've wondered if I'd be better giving up and pursuing something else. But in hindsight, every such episode has been followed by chance encounters or events that have reignited my confidence. If anybody, in any field, stays with something long enough, and works hard at it, I believe they can and will find every success they could have ever hoped for.
What was the last band or musician you heard that blew your mind?
I was recently introduced to a band called Can who were a quite prominent German kraut-rock/psychedelic band during the 60s and 70s. I'd never ever heard of them, but then someone showed me their song 'Vitamin C' and I was in love. Such a quirky and brooding sound. It's also amazing how well their recordings hold up all these years later. I wish I could have seen them live!
Gabriel Lynch is performing at Skytrain Jazz Bar on July 18th with Jenny and the Skallywags and JINTA. For more information, click here.