Gabby La La
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Gabby La La

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May
12
Gabby La La @ Laurel Center

Hayward/Castro Valley, California, USA

Hayward/Castro Valley, California, USA

May
05
Gabby La La @ The Black Cat

Penngrove, California, USA

Penngrove, California, USA

Apr
13
Gabby La La @ The Black Cat

Penngrove, California, USA

Penngrove, California, USA

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This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Union-Tribune (April 13, 2006)
"La La Was Careful What She Wished For..."

If Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, opened a smoky cabaret in Munchkin Land, she would probably book a chanteuse who sounded a lot like Gabby La La.

With her ethereal, impossibly girlish voice, the 27-year-old Northern California native has become a ubiquitous presence on the jam band circuit. A musical alchemist who accompanies herself on an array of unlikely instruments, La La has constructed a playfully spooky persona abetted by her delicate cherubic features, long, straight dark hair, and diminutive stature (she's a self-described "shorty-pie"). She plays a solo show at Winston's tomorrow after an opening set by the rising San Diego jam trio Ripplegroove.

La La is not arriving empty-handed. "I'm bringing everything: the toy piano, ukulele, guitar and Theremin," she said in a conversation from her home in Petaluma, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. "I recently got my accordion worked on, so I don't need to stand in front of a mike, I can just plug it in."

La La owes her recent burst of notoriety to the wildly inventive bassist and prolific bandleader Les Claypool, who recruited her as an opening act for the Col. Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains 2004 summer tour. Since then she's joined Snoop Dogg on "The Tonight Show" and recorded with Macy Gray. Claypool, best known as the founder and bassist of Primus, produced La La's album "Be Careful What You Wish For ...," making her the first artist he's signed to his Prawn Song label since he introduced eight-string guitar ace Charlie Hunter back in 1993.

At first, Claypool recruited her to play sitar on "Purple Onion," the 2002 album from his Frog Brigade project. Two years later, he hired her to add backup vocals for "The Big Eyeball in the Sky," and before long he started working with her on the music that turned into "Be Careful What You Wish For..." The album's title track sounds like a cautionary tale from the "Twilight Zone," but La La is just reflecting on her good fortune.

"I really wanted these things to happen, to be performing and have the opportunity to record music and play with all my musical heroes," La La said. "So, don't waste your wishes, it can really happen."

Raised in a music-loving family, La La was exposed to all kinds of sights and sounds growing up. At the age of 5, she became obsessed with the movie "Annie," learning the musical by heart and regaling her family with renditions at the top of her voice. She not only survived this phase, she was encouraged to explore her rapidly morphing muse.

"I would hear or see someone playing an instrument and say, 'I want to play that!' " La La said. "At first, it was the piano; then, the accordion and the guitar. They always let me change instruments and do whatever I wanted to do."

La La studied sitar at the Ali Akbar College of Music in Marin, and by high school she was performing with DJ J-Boogie and Dubtronic Science. In the late 1990s she enrolled at CalArts in Valencia, focusing on sitar performance, and created the band Love Balm with bassist-vocalist Lonnie Marshall. But with encouragement from Claypool to develop her distinctive vision, La La's songwriting has become her creative focus.

"I've gotten to feel more at home with all my songs since the album came out," La La said. "A lot were developing, just bare bones, when I first went out on the road. I learned about them as if they're different people, and now they're part of my family."
- Union-Tribune


Ice Cream Man (September 22, 2006)
"Gabby La La at the Troubadour"

Looking as if she'd just rolled in from Burning Man - decked out in a poodle print dress, electric blue wig, playful pink sunglasses, and swan hat - Gabby La La removed a stuffed (non-metaphorical) monkey from her back and hung it in on the microphone as she introduced herself to the crowd at the Troubadour. Accompanying herself on ukulele, she opened with the whimsical tune, "Backpack", inviting the audience to sing along. The ukulele provided a skeleton background for an extremely catchy lyric-driven song. Gabby's interesting pixie-like voice easily carried the song's melody whose hook immediately caught the audience's attention.

Gabby's second song, played on a sitar cradled in a fuzzy purple holder, was punctuated by long musical interludes between lyrics (which were also catchy but not as bouncy and hooking as "Backpack"). After a few minutes of impressive sitar playing, she set the instrument on the floor (while the rhythm played on a loop) and began gesticulating her arms in mysterious patterns, to most of the crowd's delight (but the bewilderment of some), in order to play a Theremin. Gabby La La's performances are filled with such gimmicks - at one point electronically altering her voice by singing through a toy megaphone.

The guy next to me remarked that Gabby was reminiscent of Judy Tenuta. In appearance, perhaps, but don't let the costume or stuffed animals distract you - Gabby La La is a musical talent who puts on a very original performance. Like other artists, she invites the audience to enjoy a unique creative experience rather than pander to expectations or recycle the routines of others. A solo act who somehow sounds like a duo, Gabby's high pitched voice - at times a whisper - often seems to back up her own lead vocals.

Song number three, played on an accordion, waxed humorously philosophical with lyrics posing such questions as, "Why did the chicken cross the road? What came first, the chicken or the egg?" Again, it was a quirky, quick, and interesting performance. Gabby La La plays complex songs with a lot of rhythm and melody. Her next number, "Raindrops", was played on a toy piano. However, many of her lyrics (which were packed as tightly as a Dylan song) were lost in the Troubadour's rock and roll acoustics.

As she did with the sitar earlier, during her next song Gabby put the ukulele on the floor partway through while the music continued. She then withdrew a sparkly lighted wand from her bag of tricks and did The Robot on stage while waving the wand around-energizing the crowd and drawing the loudest applause of the evening. With the looped ukulele rhythm, she donned her sitar and sang "boogie woogie man in a black dress", thereby closing her performance with a fun and energetic number.

- Ice Cream Man


The Press Democrat (April 15, 2005)
"Gabby La La Comes Home to Petaluma"

Gabby La La likes dolls. Antique dolls with creepy faces. And elves and pirates and fortune cookies. She also digs funky instruments like the sitar, electric ukulele and Theremin. She's played with Snoop Dogg and Ali Akbar Khan, but never at the same time.

She can tap dance and promises to bust a move Saturday night at Zebulon's. But more than almost anything, she loves butter and eggs.

"What came first, the chicken or the egg? What would Miss Petaluma have said?" she sings in a high-pitched series of Hello Kitty yelps on her new song, conveniently titled ``Butter and Eggs.''

Perfectly matching her 5-foot, 3-inch pixie frame, it sounds like the love child of Bjork and Yoko Ono on helium. At 25, Gabby Lang is the first new artist on Les Claypool's Prawn Song label in a decade. When her debut CD, ``Be Careful What You Wish For,'' comes out in June, don't be surprised by squeaky Japanese inflections and odes to a golden flea and the boogie woogie man.

When she's not talking about her doll collection, she loves waxing fantastical and imagining her first-ever show in her hometown of Petaluma:

Q: So I heard they want you to be this year's Butter & Egg queen. The organizers of the festival heard your song. Will you do it?

A: Nobody told me that.

Q: Would you do it?

A: Definitely. That's my dream! I want the key to the city.

Q: I had to cover that festival a few years ago and everywhere I looked there was a heart attack waiting to happen.

A: I love it. My mom used to own Bio Bottoms and we had a float in the parade.

Q: So when did you first make that high-pitched Pikachu yelp?

A: I think when I was a baby.

Q: Did you scare the hell out of yourself?

A: I think I scared my neighbor. That's actually how I started playing music. A neighbor heard me singing from across the street. She was a piano teacher and she came over and asked my mom, ``Who is singing in your house?'' My mom said, "Oh, I'm sorry, that's my daughter." I was 5 years old. She said that I should come over and take piano lessons and that's when I started playing.

Q: It was the birth of Gabby La La.

A: I started playing on the toy piano that I play now at my shows.

Q: So how did you hook up with this Les Claypool fellow?

A: I met him through Lonnie Marshall. We were in a band called Love Balm in L.A. and we opened up for Les at the Fillmore at a New Year's show. Then after that we recorded on "Dee's Diner" on "Purple Onion." Then Les called me to do some background vocals for the "Bucket of Bernie Brains" disc. One day he was like, "Hey, do you write songs, too?" So we did one song, then two and three, finally it was like, we should do a whole album.

Q: What's that creative process like?

A: Usually I come in with the song written for the most part, either on the sitar or ukulele or one of these instruments. I'll play it for him and he'll give me some feedback and then he'll get some percussion thing together.

Q: How does he push you?

A: He just says stop trying to be one thing or another thing. I want to hear the Gabby La La. Get her out here.

Q: So you have to channel her at some point?

A: I have to like bring out my -- I collect miniature toys and antique dolls -- so I bring out all these little tchotchkes and things with me and I have them all set out.

Q: Do you have pictures of this?

A: Probably somewhere.

Q: What do your toy dolls look like?

A: They're all different. I like the strange ones. They're not like Toys R Us kinds of things, more like mermaids or like a deranged little kid.

Q: And then you line them all up and get in the zone?

A: Exactly. I have to let go of all my own expectations for myself and just be myself. - The Press Democrat


Discography

"Be Careful What You Wish For" (2005)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Gabby La La's first album, Be Careful What You Wish For... is a wildly fun, endlessly charming and musically off-the-wall debut that's rooted in a life-long dedication to music, both highly specialized and extraordinary. Well before the release of this album, Gabby's proficient and vast musical talents with such instruments as the sitar, ukulele, toy piano, accordion and Theremin, have made her a decidedly sought after contributor for artists ranging from Snoop Dogg to Les Claypool, Macy Gray to DJ Boogie.

Gabby fell in love with music at a very young age. As a child, she incessantly sang the songs from the rags to riches orphan tale Annie around her Bay Area home. Lucky for her, a piano teacher neighbor heard her efforts and prodded her parents into getting her piano lessons at age 5. She took to it so well that it wasn't long before she and some friends were playing music on the street. By the time Gabby was 12, she was playing guitar as well, and after stumbling across her mother's Beatles albums, she developed a new obsession: sitar. She began studying the instrument with one of its masters, Ali Akbar Khan.

Her first professional forays into the public music world came with her work with San Francisco beatmaster DJ J-Boogie and his Dubtronic Science outfit. She would later join the lauded collective Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra as one of several female MCs, before enlisting in Love Balm, her band with Lonnie Marshall. Her credits also include a contribution to Macy Gray's The ID and an appearance with Snoop Dogg on The Tonight Show. Ironically, it was after attending a Bay Area Primus gig during the band's Sailing the Seas of Cheese period - the very first concert that the young phenom was allowed to attend without a chaperone - that Gabby was ready to devote everything to music.

Love Balm, scored a fateful gig opening up for Claypool at the Fillmore in San Francisco a few years ago. After the show, Claypool asked multi-instrumentalist Gabby to add sitar to Purple Onion, the 2002 disc from The Les Claypool Frog Brigade. Soon after, while cutting The Big Eyeball in the Sky, the first album from Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, Claypool asked Gabby to guest as a backing vocalist as well as a musician.

It was these sessions that led to the beginnings of Be Careful What You Wish For... With Claypool chiding her to get to the "real" Gabby La La - saying "I want to see that character I see in front of me" - he and Gabby sought out to flesh out the bare musical accompaniment she had written for her whimsical, fun and comical lyrics. As the first new artist to debut on Claypool's Prawn Song Records in 12 years (since the debut from Charlie Hunter), the album is the product of her collaborations with Claypool - one of her childhood heroes. "He's an amazing creative force in music today, and continues to be really open to all my ideas," Gabby says of the Primus frontman, who produced the album and played its bass, percussion and drum tracks.