Eskimeaux feels like sitting in your room alone, pushing around untried thoughts in your head. Gingerly trying to piece together a narrative that you can articulate to someone—friend, lover, dog. Or the entire Tri-State music scene, a scene very familiar to Gabrielle Smith. A scene that holds the likes of Florist, Bellows, Yours Are The Only Ears, Told Slant, and more. The few I listed, including Eskimeaux, are a part of Brooklyn’s The Epoch, “a community of musicians, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, and more” that was founded by Gabrielle Smith and friends.
Initially Gabrielle’s solo project, Eskimeaux has grown into a four-piece ensemble that now includes Epoch members Oliver Kalb (synth), Felix Walworth (drums), and Jack Greenleaf (bass). And with this, Eskimeaux’s airy bedroom thoughts get thrust into a heart-pounding and thundering percussive sound. When Smith’s clement voice grows, swells, and is thrown into the propulsive force of Kalb’s synth, Walworth’s drums, and Greenleaf’s bass, the power is palpable. The energy is breathtaking. Her 2015 release O.K. highlights Eskimeaux’s compelling live set.
Eskimeaux, free cake for every creature, and Lady Pills are playing at ONCE Ballroom tonight! Buy your tickets here.
- Between Eskimeaux and all the bands you’re apart of, your hub within the Northeastern music scene feels very community and friendship driven. What do you like (and not like) about the “six degree separation” atmosphere in the scene? And can you note differences between this scene and music scenes elsewhere in America?
I feel like I might be more used to it than other people; when you grow up in New York City you can only go to one of so many high schools. Every person I met who was around my age, it was like, “What high school do/did you go to? Oh, haha! I know [insert person] who goes there, do you know them? Yeah, me too!” It’s the same in the NYC music scene, so it’s just a familiar way of existing for me. I honestly don’t know that much about other scenes across America, since I haven’t ever lived in them – and I think you have to live within a scene to really get a good idea of what it’s like.
I enjoy the six degree separation atmosphere. It feels nice to admire someone’s music and then find out you could connect with them more easily than a cold call.
- There’s a powerful and growing—someone called it “turn-of-the-millennium” and you’ve self-described “poetic bedroom pop”—sound coming from the Tri-State music scene. Could you speak a little on that?
It seems like we all are around the same age, were each given a computer with GarageBand on it, and just went for it. I know that’s at least the case for myself, Greta, and Felix. Emily grew up with a bunch of cool equipment, but ended up with a similar vibe in her music, so who knows? I can’t really speak for everyone else, but my experience was just teaching myself how to use a guitar and GarageBand over time and employing honesty in my lyrics. It’s cool that that’s “cool” now.
- You’ve said that “[The Epoch] didn’t come together from a common sound or common idea even, except we just want to stay friends with each other.” But now looking at what Epoch’s become since it first started, would you say there’s a commonality in theme or sound for the artists in Epoch?
Sure! I think that every member of The Epoch has a really distinct sound, but they’re also super inspiring to me, so I’ve definitely adopted snippets of their styles into my songwriting. They are also all members of my band, so each person brings their own flavor to the table when we arrange Eskimeaux songs, and the same goes for my own contributions to Bellows and Told Slant live arrangements.
- You’ve talked about how Greta Kline has influenced your music and vice versa– how did you two first meet?
We met up at Bard College at an Aaron Maine solo show – she had gone up there with him and I was there to see Told Slant (before I was in the band). I had my dog, Frankie, with me, so we bonded over that. I found out much later that she was an amazing musician and started working with her even later than that.
- What’s your impression of the Boston music scene?
The Boston scene seems cool. I mean, a lot of bands that I love came up in it, such as Krill, Pile, Emily Reo, Speedy Ortiz, Claire Cottrill, Lady Pills, Palehound…probably a lot more!
- Can you recount a formative experience growing up that helped shaped your voice and your narrative as an artist?
I think the most formative moment was hearing David Berman say, “All my favorite singers couldn’t sing” in the Silver Jews song “We Are Real.” I was like, “You know what? It doesn’t matter how well a line in a song I’m writing is delivered, it matters what I’m saying.” I like to think of my songs as poems above anything else, so it was important for me to hear that so I could move forward with confidence.
- What are your favorite books (or authors)?
I love Patti Smith. I am in the middle of “M Train” right now and I absolutely devoured “Just Kids” when it came out. I’m also in the middle of reading Will Oldham’s 300-page interview, which is really great.
- You seem super busy from releasing Eskimeaux albums to being on tour. What do you like to do outside of music (and art)?
Not much, haha. I like to hang out with my dog and drink coffee, but otherwise it’s just music and art for me.