words by Joe Cortez
Emerging from the New York's hustle and bustle comes the jazzy trip-hop vibes of Brooklyn-based group Rvby My Dear. The band has garnered a steady following and heaps of raves since its inception and is now back with a new release for the summer called "Unravel" which is available now.
I caught up with songwriter and front person Gabbi Coenen via email to chat about the new release and some of her influences. For more on Rvby My Dear, be sure to visit rvbymydear.com.
So Gabbi, the new EP, “Unravel;” has been out for a couple weeks now, congrats on the release. What’s the band been up to between now and your previous single release, “Animal?"
Last month we recorded the first few songs for a full-length record – not sure when it’ll be released into the wild but we’re super excited for how everything’s shaping up so far! It’s like nothing we’ve ever done before. We’re also working on a new live set which we’ll be debuting at the end of the summer.
The members in the band hail from some pretty diverse areas: Australia, Las Vegas, New Jersey, LA, how do you think having members from such varied locales affects or influences Rvby My Dear’s sound?
I think it’s a good thing – as the primary songwriter of the group I can often get stuck in my own head when it comes to arrangement ideas, so having a diverse group of musicians to bounce ideas off of and create with really helps to expand the sound. I think a record like Unravel would sound completely different if it had just been me working on it. And I suppose it makes things easier when we tour, since we’re not just relying on fans or friends from one city to come out to shows!
Let’s talk about your background: what is it that drew you to go to The New School for Jazz? Who were some of the jazz giants that sparked your love of the genre?
I was obsessed with Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald for a very long time, and still am - I also love modern singers like Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens (who was an alum of the New School). And of course the pianist Thelonious Monk who inspired the name of the band. I was very to keen to get to New York after I graduated from music conservatory in Australia, and honestly coming over to study made it easier from an immigration standpoint. Most music schools are pretty similar in terms of their classes and ensembles, but I think the thing that sets the New School apart is the people – most people there have a huge range of influences, everything from straight–ahead jazz to hip hop to Brazilian to indie/folk music. It’s a very loose environment.
Something that struck me in the press materials for your new EP was the mention of outside influences such as The Odyssey, the TV series Hannibal, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland. What was it about these works that struck a chord during the writing of this EP?
I’m very inspired by films, books and visual art when I write music – often times the lyrics won’t come until later but there’s always a visual or literary inspiration that sparks the chords and melodies. Obviously I love film scores. Something that really struck me about Hannibal was the sound design in the score, and I tried to incorporate that into the song “Animal” with the screeches and reversed samples. One influence that I always forget to mention but is probably one of the most essential for me, is the soundtrack from The Legend of Zelda games. But I think a lot of my influences are situational – with the Unravel EP I just happened to be watching Hannibal around the same time I was reading The Odyssey. And coincidentally I was in Oxford for the 100th year anniversary of Alice in Wonderland last year as I was finishing up the songs. And it’s not necessarily the entire concept or theme of the work that inspires the song, or that the songs are even about those works – sometimes it can just be random lines. For some reason I really liked the sound of “wine dark sea” from the Odyssey so that made its way into “Animal”… And the idea of climbing through the window like Peter Pan found its way into the first line of “Hidden Threads”. So yeah, there’s no hard or fast rule to it.
What can you tell us about what's next for Ruby My Dear? Any upcoming tour dates this summer?
We’re playing this Sunday July 3rd at Sunnyvale with our friends Jaggery from Boston and local darlings Oracle Room. Then we’re at Cake Shop August 18th with Gandhi Castle who are coming up from New Orleans. After that… hopefully finishing this album!