Last month, we had the opportunity to see Gavin Turek perform live at the Hotel Cafe — and while Gavin may have started the evening as a little known Los Angeles musician, she was going to make sure no one forgot her name that night.
Like a technicolor butterfly dressed in hot pink lips and a multi-colored fringe dress, Gavin’s body was already pulsing along to the rhythmic chatter of the gathering crowd even before the set began. Her aura sent waves of energy throughout the room as she proved her professional training in dance was not put to waste. Not only was Gavin able to jive and shimmy all night, but she also impressively maintained the silky smoothness of her vocals without losing her breath. (Dear Gavin’s personal trainer: whatever her cardio routine is, we want in!)
If there’s one thing Gavin was sure to keep in mind throughout the night, it was that her entire presence from beginning to end was a sensational performance. Next Friday, Sept 6, Gavin will be hosting an encore performance at the Bootleg Theater timed with the release of her EP, “The Break Up Tape.” We caught up with Gavin to talk about her musical history, inspirations and what curious listeners can hope to see this week.
LA CANVAS: Did you always want to become a musician? Where and when did this aspiration come to you?
Gavin Turek: I’ve always loved to sing but thought I wanted to be a professional dancer. It wasn’t until college that I realized music is the only career path for me. It was in the beginning of college where I started writing a lot and making my own little amateur beats. I got addicted to the process and since I was also falling in love for the first time, I had plenty to write about. I showed my family some of the songs I wrote and my sister Hana was particularly impressed and ended up putting those songs online.
LAC: I read somewhere that you first met TOKiMONSTA on MySpace. How did you two seek each other out for this collaboration and what about her style influences your own songwriting and collaboration together?
GT: Yes! It’s insane. She just messaged me and I responded immediately. At the time I wasn’t sure her style would fit the music I envisioned for myself, but I was really impressed with her. She had already established a brand, was incredibly talented, and producing great music in a male dominated genre. I thought it would be great to at least meet and see what we came up with. Every time I write a song for her, the music dictates the lyrics and emotion; I’m forced me to be honest, vulnerable, contemplative, lonely, etc.
LAC: I know that aside from working on your upcoming album, you’ve also been collaborating with a lot of producers and artists in the electronic music world. How would you describe your own style of music and what draws you to this electronic music trend? How would you say electronic music complements your own sound?
GT: Good question. Growing up in LA and being exposed to so many different kinds of music, I have always spanned [my musical influences] from folk to reggae to classical to disco . . . I love it all. With that said, figuring out what kind of music I wanted to make was difficult. It started off more influenced by indie rock and now it’s naturally evolving into more of a electronic sound due to the recent collaborations. I feel like music that I need to write to chooses me, in a way, and I hope I continue to experiment and write regardless of the genre.
LAC: What’s the songwriting process like for you? What are subjects you like to write about?
GT: Usually I start off with a melody and gibberish. Then a word or phrase will pop out and I’ll build off that. Sometimes I start with a feeling or a word and let that motivate my lyrics. I love writing about transitions; whether relational, emotional, physical, spiritual, forced or accidental . . . the “in-between” time is a fascinating place to be. Then there’s break-up songs, which I’ve written a handful of. I rarely write about perfect relationships and being in love. Conflict is much more interesting.
LAC: I always feel that not all artists are performers and not all artists are comfortable with being on stage. You are obviously the complete opposite of that. Is there someone you look to for inspiration as a performer?
GT: I loooove being on stage because I see it as my time to release all the energy I’ve pent up throughout the week and truly not care what people think of me. It’s strange in that I often feel much more self-conscious off stage than on. As far as inspiration goes, I really enjoy watching old performance footage of Tina Turner, Diana Ross, and Donna Summer. All of those woman exude an unbelievable amount of confidence, charisma, and beauty in their performances. They have such control of their voices and bodies; every word and movement is intentional . . . it’s amazing. I can only hope to be that captivating!
LAC: Can you tell me a little bit about what goes into preparing for each performance? You have a background in dance as well as singing, but do you ever choreograph your moves before going on stage or is it impromptu?
GT: I prep for every show pretty much the same way. My favorite thing to do is to run in place and/or spastically dance throughout my set in my room. I usually use my deodorant as my mic, I blast the music, and go for it. My neighbors hate me. Right before I go on stage I warm-up, eat the same protein bar I always eat, pray with my mom, and go over the set in my head. Most of my movement is impromptu but there’s a few moments in the set where I break out in full on choreography. Generally, I feel pretty ridiculous when I do that but the audience really seems to like it. No shame!
LAC: As artists, I’ve noticed there is always this drive for continual self-discovery, both personally and musically. How do you see yourself growing in the coming year? Where do you want to head as a performer and musician?
GT: I see myself transforming in many ways. I see myself being more comfortable in my skin and becoming a better communicator. I am learning more and more that pursuing music can not be all about me. It has to be about people. Whether it’s people that work with me daily or people I meet at a show, I want to continue learning how to communicate more effectively and genuinely. Musically, I feel like I have merely scratched the surface of the potential of the songs, the lyrics, and sound. I am so excited to continue to collaborate while honing in on my sound even more. The stage show has to continue to get better, tighter, more captivating, new dance moves! [I want to] see myself playing huge venues so I’ll be putting in the practice hours this next year . . . that’s for sure.
See Gavin Turek perform at the Bootleg Bar on Sept 6. Tickets can be purchased here.