The Mancunion

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Interview: Gabby Young and Other Animals

Bianca Boorer talks to Gabby Young about her style of music, clothing and lifestyle


Gabby Young, the self-invented artist who started her career before the age of 21 from her bedroom on her own label ‘Gift of the Gab records’ started out playing gigs here in our very own Manchester music scene, “I lived here for 7 months in Chorlton, my sister went to Manchester Met so I moved up here to be with her and started a funk band. I did quite a lot of open mics and got involved in the acoustic scene here.”

Originally planning to be an opera singer Gabby suddenly switched lanes into putting her own spin on her vocals, “I was going to train to be an opera singer and was wondering if it was the right thing for me as it’s such a heavy discipline. I’m quite a free spirit that likes to do things my own way, you can’t really change the notes when it comes to opera so I started writing my own music. It was very much inspired by Jeff Buckley because he has an operatic voice but he goes and does his own thing with it. His music is so original and still emotional.” She’s been compared to Florence and the Machine with the emotional and theatrical side of her voice but she says she adds a bit of a Jazz and a crazy Björk-y thing to it with really high solos. “I try and use my voice as more of an instrument than a vocal.”

Her 8 piece band includes a wide variety of instruments, “We’ve got the 5 piece tuba, violin, accordion, drums, guitar and I’m using some cool vocal loops. We also all play ukulele.” The band’s unusual sound falls into an invented genre, “We call our music Circus Swing because we never know how to explain it. It’s a bit of everything, a bit of jazz, folk, gypsy, world music elements and we rock out at times. It’s very theatrical and colourful and it will keep surprising people forever. Every album we’ve done gets more different and diverse – eclectic.” Their first album, We’re All In This Together, was funded by the fans through the band’s ‘Become and Animal’ page, for £12.50 you became a mole, £25 a bear and £65 a tiger. At this point their recognition took off followed by worldwide tours, “I see us being really serious from two years ago because that’s when we started world-wide touring. This year and looking at next year is kind of getting crazy busy.”

Gabby has also been compared to the likes of Lady Gaga with her theatrical appearances on stage: “I was a bit of a hippy and used to just wear baggy jeans and string vests, then one time I put on a dress and everyone thought I’d made a real effort and they started dressing up to my shows as well. It became like a fun costume party. People really let their hair down when they’re in costume, you step into a different character and I definitely do it to give me a real confidence to be more of me.”

They toured in the summer of 2010 at a variety of UK festivals, the favorite being Glastonbury, “Glastonbury is such an amazing festival to be a part of, it’s just like a different world. The whole time I was there I was just running around smiling, it was actually like a dream come true so that has a really big place in my heart. I love all festivals, even the small, boutique family ones. There’s a fantastic one called Croissant Neuf that we’ve been a part of for the past two years that’s really beautifully run – but Glastonbury’s the king and rightly so.”

The band have an interesting superstitious ritual they do before a show, “We do the proper cheesy hands in the middle and we go ‘That’ll do, that’ll do, that’ll do nicely!’ It came from a really cheesy dance tune I made up jokingly but it became our mantra, it’s very Madonna and embarrassing. When we have really bad gigs we’ll be like we didn’t do ‘That’ll do nicely’ – that was the reason – so we have to make sure we do it every time.”

She’s not one of those typical artists that go off the rails and have a rock and roll life style. She likes to kick back and have a homely lifestyle, “I’m tee-total and I’ve seen friends of mine get completely wrecked and after a few years they’re just burnt out and it’s really sad. I’m an early granny. I like knitting and things like that so I’m not very rock and roll.” I asked what her plan B would be if music didn’t work out, “If I was ever to lose my voice or if things went horribly wrong I’d love to do interior designing or be a gardener.”

Gabby is quite the workaholic but plans to kick back this Christmas, “It’s got to the point where I probably should have said no to a few things but I love doing everything and I’m one of those people that becomes a workaholic. I just want Christmas off so I can just eat loads and watch films and be with my family.”

You should check out their latest album The Band Called Out For More which came out last year.