New Jersey bred soul-pop songstress Gigi Rich joins us at hidden Culver City coffee gem Spot Cafe & Lounge to discuss the musical stars aligning for her latest single “One Night,” creating music in the modern listening-sphere, and the importance in doing what is right for you in your musical career.
So to start us off, you’re riding the highs of your latest single “One Night,” wanted to say ‘congratulations!’
Gigi Rich: Thank you!
And for those who haven’t gotten the chance to add it to their playlists, would you like to share with us a little bit behind the story and the lyrics as well as the instrumentation that you chose to include?
Gigi: Yes! So the way that “One Night” came about, I just had the title “One Night” at first. I’m very much a person who sticks to the rules, like, I definitely grew up being called a ‘goody two shoes,’ and never wanted to shake anything up. But as I’ve gotten older, and especially entering this world as an artist in the music industry, I kind of wanted to take more chances and risks, and feel like I was living life to the fullest. That’s where the concept of “One Night” came about. In terms of instrumentation, I’ve kind of been writing way more in the pop-rock or soul-rock type of genre, because I feel like that’s what comes naturally to me, and I feel like I was kind of ignoring it for a little while because I thought, ‘Oh, people won’t want to hear that’ of ‘Is pop-rock even in?’ or whatever. It shouldn’t matter what’s ‘in’ because I feel like people will gravitate towards what feels good to them regardless of genre.
I always feel like it’s noticeable when an artist is doing a style of music that’s not natural to them.
Gigi: Totally! It’s almost like they look kind of dead behind the eyes. It’s a disconnect. I mean, you’re singing this stuff night after night after night, and if you don’t love that style of music it can be torturous, so it’s like, you might as well just do the music that you want to do.
Absolutely. And how would you say the recording process for “One Night” was similar or different than that of the past work that you have done?
Gigi: So with “One Night,” we actually kept the demo vocals, which is a big deal because I am usually so adamant about re-recording and making sure that everything is perfect. We were editing and adding more to the track, but when we went into the studio to re-record, we listened to the demo and then the engineer was like, ‘Why are we re-recording this?’ *laughs* I listened back, and I realized that when I had initially recorded it I wasn’t worried about getting the perfect take. I was more like, ‘This is a brand new song. I’m just going to record it and see what happens,’ and I feel like that kind of energy that I went in there with was perfect for the song. I re-recorded it just in case, but then we ended up going with the first take.
That’s so cool! You rarely hear that kind of story about keeping an original vocal recording.
Gigi: Oh yeah, usually everything’s re-recorded until it’s perfect. I’m very much a perfectionist, so this was not a normal thing for me where I’m like, ‘Yeah, just leave the demo vocal in.’ But it just ended up being that type of situation.
Yeah! And if you had an unlimited budget to do a music video for “One Night,” what type of concept would you do?
Gigi: You know, I would want to follow, like, four or five people around that all have different lives and these big careers, and they all have just one night where they just do something totally out of the ordinary. I love music videos that have a solid story line, because for me, that can totally make the song and how I’m going to interpret it every time I listen to it. And with an unlimited budget, and I’m obviously making the actors famous people because why not? *laughs*
That’s your budget right there! *laughs*
Gigi: It would be really fun though! With my unlimited budget! *laughs* So yeah, that would be the concept. And then I’d be in there somewhere with some sort of story line. Maybe go into what the song is about where you’re just out of bar and then you see someone with you going in to take that chance.
It’s awesome to hear that you actually like having a story line in music videos. I’m the exact same way, and sometimes when I watch certain videos I’ll be like, ‘Why did they go with that concept when the lyrics clearly have a story line that they could have played off?’
Gigi: Especially when it’s the really big artists who have the budget to do something, you know? I think it’s so worth the extra time to make something super amazing. Everything that I do is very meaningful to me, so I always kind of make a big deal out of everything. *laughs*
It’s better to care too much then to not care enough.
Gigi: For sure!
A fun question for you, if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with you, who would you choose and what would you name your tour?
Gigi: Oooh! Ok, so Lady Gaga, of course! I’m the biggest Lady Gaga fan that anyone will ever meet. I love her so much. So Lady Gaga, Fleetwood Mac, and then Alicia Keys.
Ooooh! That’s a good mix!
Gigi: Right!?! They’re like my three favorites apart from Amy Winehouse.
We could totally bring her back too. We’re at the hologram stage now.
Gigi: I know! It’s crazy! But for the name of my tour, I would probably call it the ‘Silver Lining Tour.’ I loved when Lady Gaga had the ‘Born This Way Tour’ because it was the title of her song, but then it was also conclusive with everybody so there was a form of optimism.
So with the way that modern music listening has been kind of more focused on single releases and EP style releases, why do you think modern music consumers are leaning more towards those types as opposed to full length albums?
Gigi: I think streaming platforms have totally changed the game. I feel like because there are so many platforms, it’s just so easy for anyone to upload music. Take SoundCloud as an example, it’s so easy for people to upload tracks whenever they want. And there’s just so much consumption that people just need to be grabbed immediately. Unless you already have an established fanbase, you need to get people to latch on within the first five to ten seconds of your song. That’s why I feel like it’s so single based right now, because you kind of need to make them pay attention to one thing at a time because there’s so much going on. I can’t expect people that don’t know who I am to listen to a twelve song record, it just doesn’t make sense right now as much as that upsets me. When I hear about new artists, the most exciting thing for me is to listen to an entire project, but I know that not everybody consumes music the same way. But yeah, I feel like it’s single based right now because people just want that one song to latch onto. And now, people could just add to their playlist, they don’t have to buy whole projects, they don’t even have to buy the single, they can just add it to their list.
Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of music out there to get through now. You have to ask yourself, ‘What do I want to listen to today?’ And then it’s just easier to go back to all your stuff that you listen to every day. *laughs*
Gigi: Oh totally! The playlist thing is so overwhelming. All these indie playlists are updated every day on Spotify, and it’s like, ‘Oh My God! How do I choose?’ But then if you don’t save it, you lose it because the turnover is so crazy. Unless you’re an established artist, it’s really hard to make your mark on some of these playlists, and that’s how people are being exposed to music now. It’s hard.
And we wonder why we have an attention span problem. *laughs*
Gigi: I know, right?!? And it’s like, you can’t blame it because that’s how technology advances. It’s just a normal thing, and it’s sad because I feel like the art suffers because of it.
Hopefully it gets better with the growth of the technology.
Gigi: I hope so too.
You’ve put out some fun cover videos on YouTube, which I love by the way, I love seeing cover videos. If you can make a five song EP based off some of the covers that you’ve done already or some new covers, which songs would you choose?
Gigi: I actually made a list for this because I was like, ‘I need to make sure that I get the perfect EP!’ *laughs* The first song would be “You and I” by Lady Gaga. Second would be “Reckless Love” by Alicia Keys from her As I Am album. Third would be “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. “Heaven Or Las Vegas” by the Cocteau Twins. And then “Keep Lying” by Donna Missal. She’s actually from New Jersey. I’m a big fan of her, and I love that song. So yeah, that would be my five song cover EP! I’ve actually thought about doing stuff like that before, just to change it up a bit and seeing what happens.
So going into social media and how much we love it, *Gigi laughs* it’s pretty much the prominent form of marketing nowadays. Do you think that it’s made it easier or harder for independent artists to kind of make a name for themselves?
Gigi: I don’t think it’s social media on its own, but I feel like it’s a numbers game. I feel like social media is an incredible way to share your music, and even though I sometimes despise it, it’s a totally necessary tool. As a musician, it’s cool to share things, but I feel like people that are insanely talented are getting looked over because they just don’t have the numbers, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. It’s so strange to see somebody with a huge following that barely even sings able to get a two million dollar record deal versus somebody with thirty thousand followers that spends their entire life on music but can’t seem to catch a break. I feel like that’s kind of the downside of social media, but it’s just one of those things that you have to have, you know?
Yeah. And do you feel that social media kind of puts on pressures for artists to not only constantly have something going on to share with their followers, but to also showcase little bits of yourself that maybe you wouldn’t normally put out there?
Gigi: I’m a very private person, so it’s really hard for me to share so much of my life when I’m like, ‘Why do you need to know so much about me?’ I know why they ‘need’ to know, and I want to connect with people, but that’s where I contradict myself because I want to connect with people, but being vulnerable online is a frightening concept. I’ve really been trying to break that barrier down and be like, ‘You know? Screw it! Just say what you want to say. Who gives a shit?’ And I’m not trying to be mean about it, but it would be so much better to not be overthinking everything that I post online. Sometimes people want to see the real, raw you and not this perfectly packaged person, and that’s the pressure I feel that Instagram sometimes has. It’s almost like, ‘Oh my God, this person is doing this and this person’s doing that, but I’m doing nothing.’ But it’s like, you’re not doing nothing, you know? There are days that you’re going to be posting something awesome, and then those same people are going to be beating themselves up feeling the same way you were feeling. Your career waxes and wanes in terms of opportunity and things going on, and I try to remind myself of that as well as looking at what other people are doing and finding inspiration. You don’t need to compare yourself, it’s not a competition, and if you think in that manner, then you’re going to drive yourself insane. I feel like I almost did at one point because I was just so consumed looking at what other people were doing that it was interfering with my life. I was literally just sitting and staring and what other people were doing, and it was so unhealthy. But to end on a positive note, I’ve since changed my opinion on how to manage social media, and I think that it really is a great way to connect. As long as you don’t overthink everything and put out what feels good to you, it can be amazing and it can be what gets you noticed.
Absolutely. And I know a lot of people do want to see who the person really is as opposed to, kind of what you’re saying, this perfectly packaged deal. We want to connect with someone who’s real and who’s like us.
Gigi: Oh totally! I know everybody who I decide to follow on Instagram definitely has that side to themselves on their feet or on their stories. Even things like posting a story without makeup on, something as simple as that shows that they’re a real person beneath the costume.
As a female singer-songwriter, do you feel that women in the music industry need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to be successful?
Gigi: I feel like there is, but it’s changing. I feel like women are over having to be overly sexualized to be noticed or needing to be a sex symbol type thing. You can be a powerful woman, but you don’t have to sex it up for whoever’s gaze. If being sexy is what you want to do, then that’s awesome and that’s totally your decision. That’s what it should be, your decision, not because they’re like, ‘You won’t be successful unless you’re sexy.’ I feel like there are artists out there now that are out there that don’t do the overly sexy thing, and even if they did, like I said, as long as it’s their decision. Look at Billie Eilish for example, she’s not like dressing super sexy, but she still has great style without hanging out everywhere. We have these awesome, powerful women coming out of the woodwork that as artists, they’re kind of doing whatever they want. The more that women get to do what they want, the more that the world is just going to be forced to accept that we’re going to do whatever feels right for our bodies and for us.
I’m definitely happy to see are there has been a change in how female artists portray themselves, especially for the younger generation to see. It’s very much a positive step in the right direction.
Gigi: Totally! They need to see somebody of the opposite spectrum so they know that they can choose where they fit in their own style.
And how do you balance your personal life with your professional life?
Gigi: I feel like I don’t really, but I still try so hard, and sometimes I get these feelings of guilt that I’m not doing something. I moved here from New Jersey, so I have just been so determined since the moment I got off the plane to get a lot of stuff done with my music. But lately, I realized that I might actually have to live life in order to have something to write about. When you keep writing about the same shit for like two years, it gets boring! *laughs*
I mean, there are some artists that do that and have been super successful with it. *laughs*
Gigi: Oh, totally! I mean, I still worry about things that I experienced two years ago, but I also just want to experience more things in my life because everything that I write about is so personal. I really tried thought, and I finally kind of met a group of friends that I can call and have good experiences with, and just chill and kind of get out of my head for a little bit. As long as I give myself like some of that time during the week, I’m set. I mean, I love what I do, so it doesn’t really feel like work, which I think is the best part of it all.
Absolutely. You don’t want to feel like you have to do something. Life is too short to do a bunch of shit that you don’t want to do.
Gigi: *laughs* Exactly!
What advice would you give your younger self in regards to what you’ve experienced so far in music or with life?
Gigi: I think I would tell her to not take one person’s opinion so seriously or take it to heart. It’s so crazy, I’ll think about the rooms that I’ve walked into when I was sixteen or seventeen, and the things that some of these people would say to me, not like they were overly horrible, but they were just quite insensitive to say to a young girl. But you have to remember, in this industry, that person is not the end all be all. The beauty of the music industry is that there are so many people and so many avenues to break in through, and it’s like, even if somebody doesn’t think you have the music, or they don’t like your voice, or they don’t think you have a look, that’s ok because there’s gonna be someone out there that does. So yeah, that’s what I would tell myself, ‘Stop crying over everything.’ *both laugh*
It’s easier said than done. I totally cry over everything.
Gigi: Oh, me too! Like every day, five times a day over stupid shit. What, can I say ‘shit?’ *laughs* I’m sorry.
I don’t believe in censoring. If you feel that way then let it out!
Gigi: *laughs* Ok great! I mean, I’m not going to go as far as to call myself a ‘crybaby,’ but I am very emotional. It’s a blessing and a curse. *laughs*
It’s so funny, like, when I was younger I would watch my mom and my grandma cry over movies and stuff and I would be like, ‘Wait, why are you crying?’ Now I’m older and I cry and those cheesy Hallmark Christmas commercials. *both laugh*
Gigi: Adulting is hard! We’re all just all crying all the time!
Right!?! Now I cry when my shows end. *laughs*
Gigi: Oh my God I do the same thing! When my shows end, I go into a little bit of a depression. I’m like, ‘What am I going to do now?’
It’s like, ‘I need a new show, stat!’
Gigi: Exactly! I also love to listen to podcasts, so I switch and go into phases between listening to a podcast and watching Netflix.
So what do you hope that your audience will take away from your music?
Gigi: I just hope that even if I’m singing about things that don’t hit you in the heart right away, that you can appreciate something from the song. Relating to people and connecting with people is my number one goal. When I listen to my favorite records, I just get overwhelmed with how much I love this artist because of their bravery to write about something so unique that I can relate to. So if somebody could feel that way about my music, or even be like, ‘This is a cool song!’ that would just mean the world to me. Everybody wants a big career, I mean, even I want to be in big arenas, but at the end of the day it’s all about somebody sitting in their room listening to my songs, and really connecting to like what I’m trying to say.
And to end us off, apart from riding the highs of “One Night,” what other big, exciting things should we be expecting from you?
Gigi: So I’m writing a new EP, which is very exciting. And it’s all new stuff this time! I’m not writing about the same old topics! *laughs* Lots has happened in my life since I wrote on “Silver Lining” and “One Night.” And then I’m always posting about performances in L.A. and New York so check those out! But yeah, I’m just really excited about the new EP. I’ve just been working really hard on getting the songs perfect and ready.
Well we’re very excited to see all the fun stuff you’ve been working on!
Gigi: Yes! Thank you so much for having me!
About Spot Cafe & Lounge:
Have you ever had a place that you pass by everyday that makes you say, ‘I should check that place out?’ Spot Cafe & Lounge was my place. For two years I had passed by the adorable corner shop with the brightly colored umbrellas on my way home from work, and I had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make it one of my featured coffeeshops. And let me just say, it exceeded my expectations completely.
The shop is located on the heavily frequented (at least for drivers on the Westside) Overland Avenue, but yet is still in a relatively quiet part of Culver City due to its primarily residential location. However, it’s clear that they do their darnedest to make sure that anyone who walks in the door becomes a regular customer. From their warm and inviting color palette to their plentiful amount of seating to their food and beverage menu complete with daily house coffee specials for every day of the week. What really makes the shop a great home for locals in the area is its giant bulletin board showcasing the many wonderful talents, services, and opportunities that the are has to offer along with a special events section that also showcases local artwork. Spot Cafe & Lounge is a great place to feel at home, and I’m glad that I finally made it out there to enjoy the first of many fresh cups of joe.
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