This Music Made Me

This Music Made Me: Gabby Young

Gabby Young (photo: Gem Hall) Gabby Young’s third album One Foot In Front Of The Other expands the Bath-born, classically trained singer’s self-styled ‘circus swing’ sound beyond the folk-jazz-gypsy-cabaret template established over her previous two works.

Again backed by partner and Revere front man Stephen Ellis and the ‘other animals, complex, elaborate and – mostly – full-on arrangements fire up and ebb away around her none-more-English, soaringly operatic vocals on an album she declares shows her at her most vulnerable.

Five years on from her debut and ahead of a launch gig and the album release she told us about the albums that have influenced her most for her This Music Made Me…


Jeff Buckley - Grace Jeff Buckley – Grace

This is the reason I am a singer/songwriter and the main catalyst in my life.

When I was 17 and at a specialist music and theatre school I decided I wanted to be an opera singer, like Maria Callas and make people weep as I really thought that was the most powerful a singer could get but then a friend gave me this album, saying ‘Jeff’s voice reminded her of mine’ and I listened but did not get it at first… then on the second try I realised I had found an artist who not only sang with a beautiful operatic tone but had lots of theatricality and so much emotion that I couldn’t stop crying.

That day I quit the crazy, heavy disciplined opera dream and went on my own path, like I always do and started writing my own songs. I am so thankful to this album and all Jeff brought into the world.


Paul Simon - Graceland Paul Simon – Graceland

This is my mecca of everything that is good about music – it makes me smile more than anything and taught me to be play with genres and that no matter what is going on in the arrangement – the melody and lyrics of a song are so important.

Paul’s lyrics are so original they make me giggle – I love how many words he fits into one line – they are stories not songs. Also the African influence is also hugely appealing and important to me as a lot of my mother’s family are from and live in South Africa and when I was younger we went there and I loved hearing the choir singing there – it was so unique and different to what I’d heard in our English churches… to me it was much more steeped in emotion and passion and that shines through on this album.

You can almost hear the pain in those voices and it is very good at putting things into to perspective which is why it is my go to album when I need some and believe me, in this career perspective is a rare commodity.


Joni Mitchell - Blue Joni Mitchell – Blue

Joni was the reason I bought myself a guitar and became a musician to back up my voice.

When I heard this album for the first time, I felt so late to the party, I discovered her far too late on, when I was 18 and I was really annoyed that I had been missing out on the voice of our time!

I fell hard for Joni and all her albums, it’s hard to choose which one had the most influence on me but Blue made me want to sing in a darkened room with candles and a guitar – it was the start of my short lived hippydom and I led me onto so many other singer/songwriters that inspired me so much.


David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

I think David has inspired every living musician in some way as he is such an original and a genius. I love this album to death – I always remember loving Bowie on the radio as a kid and then when I started owning and playing my own music I bought every CD of his I could find. This particular album is him at his glam rock best but it is still so varied and original.

Bowie definitely taught me to make an effort and get dressed up for shows which came after my hippydom of long skirts and unbrushed hair. I’m pretty sure I first started experimenting with make-up because of the cover for Aladdin Sane and when I first saw him live in 2000 I learnt how to put on a show and connect with an audience.


Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love Kate Bush – Hounds Of Love

Kate Bush taught me so much – she’s so eccentric and so exciting it was like a new awakening when I heard this album.

My mum gave me her vinyl collection when I was 18 and this was one of my favourites in such an amazing, varied collection.

She is so inventive as a songwriter which I think really gave me the courage to try out new things and be creative with my style, voice and movement on stage too.

What I find most amazing about that album is during the song ‘Cloudbusting’ I actually do ‘feel like something good is gonna happen’ and that is a skill that one day I would love to perfect!


Björk - HomogenicBjörk – Homogenic

Björk’s another lady who made me explore my style in both my music and fashion.

She has such an amazing way with words and especially as it is not her first language, it comes out in such an original, brilliant way which made me think about wordplay and being more playful with lyrics.

Also her use of vocal layers and harmonies inspired so many of my songs – I am addicted to layering vocals thanks to Björk!


Edith Piaf - Piaf At The Olympia Edith Piaf – Piaf At The Olympia

Just the most brilliant performance of such a beautiful soul, Piaf sang with her guts and full heart and I am so thankful that there was a time when that could be hugely successful and popular music.

The instrumentation and orchestration of these songs is so lush and and influenced my way of arranging and the emotion Edith sings with will always haunt me, in a wonderful, wonderful way.


Rufus Wainwright - Want OneRufus Wainwright – Want One

The king of building songs in a beautiful, dramatic and orchestral stole my heart from his first album but this LP is just perfect.

Each song is so cleverly crafted and emotionally drenched I always said – one day I will write my ‘Want One’ it is always an album I take into the studio for inspiration when it comes to arranging and structuring the songs.



Louis Prima - The Wildest Louis Prima – The Wildest

I just love this album – it made me realise that the most important thing in music is to have a good time and to me this album is one big party – Louis sounds so happy and that joy spreads through his music and band right onto the listeners face and the toes start tapping.

That’s how I want to people to feel when they hear our (upbeat) songs – I want the joy to overcome them and Louis was the perfect teacher for that.


Radiohead - OK ComputerRadiohead – OK Computer

I am a huge Radiohead fan and I couldn’t leave this album out as it was such a big influence on the way I enjoy all types of music – it is a very eclectic album but has the underlying thread of Thom Yorke’s sullen voice that is so passionate and endearing but still with that grungey cool that I wish I had more of sometimes!

It’s a great example of amazing songs with incredible arrangements behind them that build into epic melodramas that I get that tingly feeling from.


Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes

Tori taught me piano – I bought her ‘easy piano’ version of this album when I was 20 and I sat down and worked my way through it which in turn led to me writing more of my own songs on the keys.

She is such an incredible songwriter – sometimes I have no idea what she is going on about but I can feel the emotion through it and I always like enigmatic lyrics – they are even more interesting to me!

I think the main thing the influenced me in this album was drama… pure drama and I love it!


Revere - My Mirror/Your Target Revere – My Mirror/Your Target

This band literally changed my life – when I first saw Revere I was supporting them as a solo singer/songwriter at a Camden venue called Monkey Chews (now criminally shut down.)

I was new to London, had just got over cancer and was in a pretty odd place but their music overcame me like a wave and made everything very clear, that I was in London to do this – create and perform music that makes people speechless.

It just so happened that the lead singer, Stephen, in time, became my boyfriend and is the main animal – guitarist, co songwriter, arranger and producer of the last two albums…

If anyone thinks of our music as a wall of sound, you will hear in this album that this is Stephen’s influence and Revere are so bloomin brilliant at it! Also they need to be seen live for the full effect – I will never tire of their epic wonderment!


Gabby Young And Other Animals’ new album is out now through Gift Of The Gab. Tour dates and further information can be found here.

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More on Gabby Young And Other Animals
This Music Made Me: Gabby Young
Gabby Young And Other Animals – One Foot In Front Of The Other
Gabby Young & Other Animals – The Band Called Out For More
Gabby Young And Other Animals @ Tabernacle, London
Interview: Gabby Young