Gilan learns her lesson in ‘Twice’: Interview

DIY multi-instrumentalist and sensitive, Gilan brings you a life lesson that you shouldn’t be repeating. Based in London, the singer/songwriter exposes her experiences through a somber track that she has written and produced herself. Writing music from a young age from a strict Middle East she has flourished upon her arrival to the UK. Making the most out of her time in lockdown, we delve deeper into her conscience and debut track. 

YMX: Hey Gilan, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?

GILAN: It has been quite the ride. The kind of ride where it is hot, the air conditioning doesn’t work and the radio is stuck on one channel. Some days the station plays your jam and the scenery is nice, other days you are looking for any excuse to hurl yourself out of a moving car…but just like any ride I am hoping it will come to an end and I can eventually get off.

YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so? 

GILAN: Music has always been a part of my life. When I was young my parents performed as a part of a cabaret. I learned very quickly to express myself and soul search through music. Even though things became stricter (we were in the Middle East and I think my dad was worried I would find the music scene and become a SCOUNDREL….he was right) I never had any doubt that I wanted to be making music. Music is my constant.

YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why!

GILAN: Only 3? Wow. Ok

PJ Harvey: Her method of emotional story telling is so raw. I love how brutally honest she is about feeling, about the nitty gritty and you can hear it in her voice. I also adore her sense of melody and how she managed to combine folk and prog/grunge rock. Sometimes it feels like she is cradling your head and singing you a lullaby. Other times it feels like she is pulling you by the hair and getting ready to kick your ass. Regardless of which, it is ALWAYS sensual.

Portishead: Where to even begin? Musically I adore lo-fi, trip-hop, a beat that makes it somehow sound like the song is stumbling, trudging its way through some dark times. The samples they use mixed with the ethereal sounds coming out of Beth Gibbons’ mouth always transports me to somewhere new. Somewhere alien and yet familiar to my soul. The vocals, though seemingly fragile and very controlled always have this bite to them. The delivery of the already powerful lyrics is done in a way that leaves me hanging on to every syllable, all those pregnant pauses.

Fiona Apple: This woman’s music, her poetry, her resilience and refusal to accept bullshit (including her own) has gotten me through a large portion of my life, and still saves me. Her use of language is extraordinary and she plays with all of these rhythms in ways that are unique. Her form of self-expression is definitely one that I strive for; to take the human condition and beat it on its head. Her songs always sound so unashamed, which makes it so intimate. Like someone writing you a love letter or letting you read their journal. I don’t even know how to delve into how marvellous her musicianship is. The common thread I think with all three of them is the story that is told through the melody, vocals, lyrics…everything. The honesty, the unashamed truth that is being expressed is powerful. I strive to create something that moves people, to connect with people on such an intimate level in the way they do. I strive to be able to connect with and understand myself in the way they have.

Ok, I know you said 3 so I will just say this person’s name and then not go into it: Sevdalisa. Is that cheating? Oh well.

YMX: You recently released ‘Twice’. Can you tell us how that project came about?

GILAN: Twice was born out of reflection. I had made a new, super intense friendship that fell a part almost as quickly as it came about and I needed to do some soul searching afterwards. Twice is about meeting new people who have toxic behavioural traits that you have met before. You let them in, perhaps because you still had something to learn. It is about the emotional upheaval that comes with that realisation.

YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?

GILAN: I wasn’t planning on recording my own music. I was just about to start looking for new bandmates when the first wave hit. If anything having to work remotely (along with the not so gentle nudging of some good friends) actually forced me to finally start producing for myself. As I had no expectations of what I was capable of, it has actually been a really fun journey.

YMX: Professional livestreams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?

GILAN: I have done a couple already. One for Isolate Live put together by my good friend Morning Crush and one for LOUD WOMEN. I admit I was a little shy at first. Playing to a camera definitely felt a little alien however I am looking forward to doing more in the future.

YMX: Since pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers? 

GILAN: Promotion is key right now. Before I would perform at venues/pubs/anywhere that would have me. Make connections that way and engage with people who liked my sound. Trying to forge those same connections online is tricky, promotion can be a lifeline to that distant feeling of connection. I admit I haven’t mastered the art of promoting myself yet, but I am getting there. All I can say to anyone reading who feels stuck is, do the dirty work. Don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel awkward. Contact people, ask questions, do research, try different things and find what works for you. Even if it doesn’t work straight away I can tell you that taking those steps feels infinitely better than sitting there wondering what to do, and hey, you might make some awesome connections!

YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?

GILAN: I have pencilled in a few gigs tentatively for the second half of the year but it is all up in the air. Nobody wants to be too risky and say for sure yet. I really hope I can perform again soon. I miss it.

I have a couple more singles in the pipeline for this year, hopefully in the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled.