For Gabriela Geneva honesty is key. “The words that I sing have to be true to what I feel,” explains the Toronto-based singer/songwriter.
Gabriela’s latest single, “You Were Right” is a perfect example of this. The rhythmic pop anthem was inspired by a former relationship that fell apart. We caught up with the rising pop star to talk about her new single and the importance of positivity.
Could you describe yourself and your style of music?
I’m a very passionate and headstrong person, which is a reflection of my Eastern European roots, and in turn that definitely is represented in my music. Lyrics are very important to me, and for me, the words that I sing have to be true to what I feel. I feel very easily and deeply so I like to create and listen to music that evokes that. I strive to do that through a heavy beat, or a sick bass, or even a beautiful piano part.
How has your upbringing (Bulgaria, the UK, and Canada) contributed to the way you approach music?
My music just ends up being a mixture of everything I’ve experienced and all the cultures I’ve been immersed in. I’ve always primarily gravitated towards pop music. I always loved the bass lines that you hear in Bulgarian pop music as well as the percussion. There’s a lot of organic instrumentation that happens which I really love. And then when I came to Canada, I initially was in a pop-punk band and so that also reinforced the love of real instruments. I die for a great 808 and a great synth though, and I think that’s why you can really hear a mix of both in my music. I find the perfect mix for me is a lot of electronic sounds and then throwing in a prominent real instrument to spice things up and give people something unexpected.
You considered other career options like social work or music therapy, but ultimately decided to pursue music. What factors led to your decision?
I truly believe therapy and mental health are so so important. I have always loved people, I’ve always been fascinated by the mind and how it works, so that’s why I wanted to pursue a career in the mental health field. I think there’s so much unexplored territory when it comes to that. And if I wasn’t pursuing music I really would be going down that path head first. But I did ultimately find that for me personally I could create a different kind of connection with people through music. When I’m feeling some type of way, I go straight to my phone and I start playing a song that describes how I feel and I feel immediately understood and comforted without putting up any walls, without feeling like I’ll be judged for it. So that’s what I want to do for other people.
At 15 you joined a band. What kind of music did you play and what did you take away from that experience?
I was in a pop-punk band called GreenTree, and I was one of two lead singers. It was an amazing three years of my life. I met my best friends while I was in the band, and I’m happy to still call them best friends. Being in the band really helped me figure out who I was as a musician and as a performer. It really helped me build my confidence and it helped solidify that I truly did want to make music my career.
You’ve spoken about wanting to help people with your music and the importance of sending a positive message. Why this is important to you?
Well, I just think music is such a powerful tool when it comes to conveying a message. I’m sure I’m not speaking only for myself when I say this but when I listen to a song I am taking it in 100%. And if it’s describing what I feel or a situation I’m going through it is one of the most comforting things because whether it’s a positive or negative situation, I feel like I’m not alone in feeling what I feel. That’s priceless. I love that about music. I hope it’s not cheesy to say, but I think that as musicians we have the responsibility to share exactly what we feel because we expose the humanity in us, which is the most relatable thing and I think it will always help someone out there to feel like you’re with them in whatever they’re going through, good or bad.
Considering our current political climate, what messages do you feel are important to be shared, especially for younger girls who may look to you as a role model?
I think the most important thing is to be compassionate, to listen, to think critically, and to question things always. Believe me I am always working on practicing that as well, but I think it’s vital. The only way to go forward is to have open conversations and to strive to understand as opposed to immediately shooting down anything we don’t agree with.
Your purple hair is amazing! What role does fashion and aesthetics play in how you represent yourself?
Thank you!! Oh my god, I love anything visual. I’ve always been into art and photography and graphic design so anything aesthetically pleasing is orgasmic. That’s why I upkeep a theme to my wardrobe and my Instagram theme, as 2018 as that sounds. I like things that are cohesive, and thought out, and recognizable as their own.
Your upcoming single “You Were Right” is super catchy, honest, and empowering. How did that song come about?
I was in a relationship where the person I was with was threatened by my independence and my outspokenness, and so I was made to feel like they were things I needed to tone down. And I remember feeling bad about that at the time because I liked the person and I trusted their opinion, but then I quickly realized that I’m fully comfortable being all the things he was threatened by. That’s where “You Were Right” was born. That place of celebration.
You can always expect honesty from my songs, 100%. Words are super important to me; I have to mean what I’m singing, it has to come from an honest place. Catchy and empowering… I hope so! As of right now I’ve not really written any sad ballads because to be honest I tend not to enjoy moping about too much, so I just turn sadness into angry motivation songs.
You’ve talked about “You Were Right” as the perfect track to “re-introduce” yourself. What have you learned about yourself over the past two years?
I’m still working on this, but I feel like I’ve been learning more and more to trust my abilities and trust my own voice. I’m still young and working with people that have been in the industry much longer than I have, it’s easy to feel a little inadequate at times. But as time has gone by I’ve really been learning to have more faith in myself and realizing I can hold my own when it counts.
Do you have plans for a full-length album or EP soon?
Absolutely. I’ve been writing a lot since moving to Toronto last year, and I can’t wait to be able to share it all!
What’s next for you?
Well, I’m already thinking about the second single from this chapter, as well as planning the EP and finally touring next year, so I could not be more excited… and anxious for it to start!