Interview: Eskimeaux

Photo: Richard Gin

Photo: Richard Gin

Last year I heard the music of Eskimeaux and immediately fell in love. That was after I spent a month wondering why it took me so long to discover them, but now here we are, and the band is following-up the incredible O.K.  with Year of the Rabbit. Somehow Gabrielle Smith and her band have also found time to tour and they're joining the most magical lineup (Frankie Cosmos & Yowler) for a series of dates, including an April 29th date in Pittsburgh at Roboto. Ahead of what's sure to be a fantastical evening, Gabrielle took the time to answer some questions via e-mail for us!

The Grey Estates: How do you manage to juggle so many creative projects, and still remain fresh and engaged with your music?

Gabrielle: Sometimes it's hard! Mostly, though, I've figured out how to continue to write and be inspired by whatever band I'm on tour with while we're traveling. For example, "WTF" and "Bulldog" were written while on tour with Frankie Cosmos. Usually, however, writing slows on Eskimeaux tours because I'm more focused on making sure the live performance is engaging (for the audience and myself).

TGE: And to that extent, a lot of your material is super personal and relatable, because who hasn't totally struggled with love. So, how do you feel comfortable taking failures and successes in life/love/etc and turning them into song? 

G: I guess I've never really thought about whether or not I'm comfortable with turning something into a song, it always just...becomes one, haha. Usually a song comes from a need to take an experience or a feeling and look at it objectively so I can gain perspective on it. I'm always psyched to find out that my experiences are "normal" when people say my songs are relatable!

TGE: Whenever I saw you during the Mitski tour you encouraged sing alongs and really brought a different element to a live performance. How does that work for you or how you take something that's recorded and make it just as and maybe even more impressive live?

G; The live band strives to be as interesting and exciting as the recordings, but also have its own energy, because why see a band live if it's exactly the same as the record? I mean, if we could pull that off it would certainly be impressive, but it's important to me to give people the sense that they saw something special the night they came to see us. When we practice, we always play the song as true to the recorded version as possible, then say, "that part was too long, let's cut it in half" or "that was too boring, let's try it with a hair-metal beat," and then try to spice it up for ourselves, and ultimately for the audience.

TGE: Is there any particular track that you're really fond of playing live and if so, why?

G: That changes set to set, though I definitely love playing new songs most. It's so much more fun because the stakes are higher! We have a new song off our upcoming release called "Sleeping Bear" that is super fun to play. It has a part with no words, which we realized is super rare for an Eskimeaux song, so we get to dance a little, which is always fun.

TGE: What are you most excited for with this tour that is basically like a dream lineup - Yowler & Frankie Cosmos?

G: Well, first of all, I'm super excited to get to play with Frankie Cosmos every night. They're such a fun group of people and I feel super lucky to get to play with them one last time! ALSO, I listen to "Seven Towers" by Yowler all the time...like I know all of the words and can't wait to hear her play them over and over. Maryn is a really special songwriter. I'm also excited to get familiar with Anna McClellan's music! I've only heard it from Greta playing it for me when we're hanging out, so I haven't gotten to zone with it yet.

TGE: You just released "WTF" and it was centered around the long periods you spent apart from Oliver. Once, I just went with my friends in Leggy for a weekend and saw how tolling touring can be, so how can you do it and not totally lose your cool or still stay connected to all that you leave behind?

G: I like to really dive wholly into being on tour. If it wasn't such an important tool I'd probably prefer to leave my phone at home while I'm touring, honestly. That being said, obviously when Oliver and I get to talk it's awesome and important, but I can be hard to get a hold of some days. I think, though, that because we have a pretty open communication and trusting relationship, when there are some days where we don't talk it doesn't make us angry or jealous, and that's really important. The hardest part of my life to be disconnected from while I'm away is my dog Frankie and he can't call or text me!

TGE: I have been obsessed with the "Broken Necks" video since it was released. What was the process like for that as far as your input and what was it like to bring visuals to something that's typically just left for listeners to hear and conjure up their own thoughts?

G: I got the privilege of working with House of Nod, which is an amazing video production company. They've done videos for LVL UP and Painted Zeros, as well as a lot of other really cool stuff. I am into drawing and making comics, but had no experience with any other visual format, especially putting motion and images to music, so I wanted to leave the majority of the creative process of the video to them. Luckily for me, they are geniuses, so it all came together pretty quickly once they sent me the script. My input was mainly my outfits and movements during the shoot, everything else was their vision and direction. They were so easy and fun to work with that even though it was my first time making a music video I felt really comfortable. 

TGE: As a crazy obsessed dog owner myself, how often do you wish your dog could text you when you were on tour/the road?

G: Haha! I just said that! Literally, every hour to be like, "Hey, I'm good, chewing my bone, just letting you know that I'm safe."

TGE: And since Pittsburgh likes sandwiches a lot, what's your dream sandwich?

G: My ideal sandwich would be on a sesame seeded Italian hero roll with arugula, egg, sharp cheddar, avocado, and really good tempeh bacon. Or tempeh sausage crumble. And Tapatio hot sauce.