Published on November 27, 2013 | by Holly Gilbert0
From the bedroom to the world stageSinger-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin has gone from online videos to global success. ALN chats with the new star about her journey.
With her English rose looks and her infectious charm, Gabrielle Aplin has gone from uploading videos of her singing in her bedroom to releasing number one singles and a successful tour. This singer-songwriter has seen her star rise into a career worthy of her hard work.
Aplin’s relationship with YouTube started when she was a young teenager intent on teaching herself to play an instrument. Little did she know that sharing her talent online would earn her the acclaim that has put her where she is today.
“I think having an online presence was one of the main things for me,” she said. “Maybe 10 years ago it wouldn’t have been as important, but I think it’s another way of releasing, sharing and discovering music now, so it’s really important. I think new artists should really embrace it. It also helped build a loyal fan base because you are sharing really personal things.”
Covering songs Aplin exudes a quiet confidence whilst remaining unbelievably humble. When asked last Christmas to sing The Power of Love for the John Lewis commercial, her relaxed approach and attitude set her on the path to success. “John Lewis added me on very late; it was two days before the deadline and they still hadn’t found anyone to do it. They asked me just two days before I recorded it. It was really spontaneous and I was so glad of the opportunity as I was such a fan of the adverts.”
The Power of Love would, in turn, become one of her favourite covers, despite a lot of her early work being her own interpretation of the songs of other artists. “When I was first covering songs, it was simply to learn an instrument and the songs. It helped me really develop my songwriting and that’s what I think is so great about it. It is so good when you actually find a comfort in doing other people’s songs, because usually I do them to express what I think or feel. So when you find a song that isn’t yours and you still get that feeling out of it, that is why I do it.” Says Aplin.
After recently adding Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball to her list of covers, her defence of another female artist allows an insight into the fact that, for Aplin, it is all about the craft, about the music.
“Miley Cyrus is really talented. I can understand the negativity and opinions that people have about her, but I think people forget she is an artist and a very talented person. I covered it because I think it is an amazing song. She is an amazing writer, she can dance, she can sing and act; she is an amazing performer.
“I also think that women can be seen as amazing musicians without subjecting themselves to demeaning sexualisation. In Robin Thicke’s video for Blurred Lines, the girls were almost objects in front of guys in suits and I think this screams stereotypes of women in the industry.
“But we should compare it to a video like Sigur Ros’s with Shia LaBeouf; it is used in a really arty and beautiful way. You can still use sexualisation in a way that actually portrays the point of the song, but it has to be done tastefully. I don’t think there is any problem with it when it is portrayed fairly and is used to pass along a message,” says Aplin.
“I think that women can be seen as amazing musicians without subjecting themselves to demeaning sexualisation.” – Gabrielle Aplin
Aplin’s desire to reach out and write candidly about events in her life has allowed her music to not only be endearing but beautifully lyrical. “When I first got into music as a teenager, it was more about the writing and doing something creative. Lyrically, I am really inspired by literature. I love Leonard Cohen and TS Elliot as well as writers from the 1930s; I think the work from that time is really amazing.
“The lyrics are the main thing when I’m writing. If I’m happy with the final lyrics, I’m usually happy with the song and everything falls into place; the words are definitely my main goal. When it comes to the actual music, I really love seeing it all come together. I like writing about things that happen to me, or people around me. Things I experience or understand are at the core of all my songs.”
Her love of literature is reflected in her own work and she is able to encapsulate emotion and truth in her deeply poetic lyrics.
Her experiences and emotional connection with a moment in time are captured so delicately and subtly that it evokes a real truthfulness, which is no mean feat for someone in their early 20s.
With the English leg of her tour ending, Aplin is looking forward to what lies ahead in the coming months. “The English Rain tour has been really good. I’ve done so many tours but this is my first since releasing an album so it has been good to see the reaction and see which songs are really well-received, because I haven’t had anything to compare it to.
“It has been great as it’s the first time I have done a tour in venues of this size. I now have a week off, and then I go straight into touring South East Asia until the middle of December so I’m very excited.
“My next single is out just before Christmas. I am going to be spending the beginning of the new year writing lots of new things as well as spending more time in London whilst working with different people and experimenting.
“I feel like my work can really benefit creatively in London; there are so many different cultures and you meet so many different people which is great for me. I’ve lived in three different parts of London and they are all so different. It is like three cities all in one city and there are so many things to do and experience more than anywhere else in the UK. I love Richmond and Brick Lane as well.”
For anyone accusing this dynamic young woman of being just another singer/songwriter, they are very much mistaken. She handpicked the supporting acts for her tour to highlight local talent and give musicians an opportunity to showcase their own work.
“I’ve lived in three different parts of London and they are all so different. It is like three cities all in one city and there are so many things to do and experience more than anywhere else in the UK.” – Gabrielle Aplin
“I wanted to do something where I had a local artist from each town where I was playing, so I asked people to apply with a video and then picked my favourites from each city. It makes you realise just how much good music is out there and how many talented people there are,” she says.
A desire to help her talented fans and give a nod to those early bedroom beginnings really sets Aplin apart from other artists.
Despite the fact she has seen huge success in the last year, her down-to-earth attitude and love of what she is doing has allowed her to grow and develop into the talented and grounded performer she has become. “For anyone outside what I do it looks like I had suddenly gone from performing to webcam to performing to thousands of people, but it really isn’t like that,” she says.
“It has been a really gradual build over the last five years, I started out playing really small venues and it has grown every time. So for me, it has grown slowly and I don’t feel like I was thrown into anything. It has actually been very calm and I am glad I did it the long way round.
“I would hate to be given what I do now suddenly, it totally changes you as a person and it is a complete lifestyle change that you should do gradually for your own health and sanity.”
Aplin has battled to achieve success through her work. She has chased opportunities, lived in horrible flats and pursued a career in music relentlessly. To hear her describe her truly 21st century coming-of-age story, from learning to play guitar in her bedroom, recording Paramore covers to number one hits, highlights her accomplishments.
She seems set on the path to stardom and it is her talents and passion that will ensure Aplin’s success continues to grow.
Aplin’s debut album English Rain is out now in stores and iTunes. To stay up-to-date with everything Aplin related, visit her website www.gabrielleaplin.co.uk, follow her on Twitter @GabrielleAplin or like her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/gabrielleaplin.