Gazelle Twin on creative freedom, depression and motherhood

BY Sammy Stein

15th Oct 2023 Culture

4 min read

Gazelle Twin on creative freedom, depression and motherhood
Composer, producer and musician Gazelle Twin opens up about being a conceptual artist and forging a unique identity ahead of the release of her new album, Black Dog
Reader's Digest: Why did you choose Gazelle Twin as your artistic name?  
Gazelle Twin: I wanted a name I could use for different projects. Gazelle Twin did not limit me creatively. A gazelle is beautiful and agile.
Also, the image of a twin gazelle is in Solomon’s Song from the bible where it talks of a woman’s breasts resembling the twin fawns of a gazelle. Those connections satisfied me.  
Would you describe your music as conceptual?
Conceptual is a good term. I don’t make music just for the sake of making music. My records are inspired by themes. I take a long time before writing the music learning about subjects related to the theme. Then I work on the structure of the album.
"I found similarities between the physiology of being depressed and the nature of hauntings"
Ideas can change. For example, Black Dog was originally about ghosts—something that fascinates me—but I ended up with an album about my childhood experiences, through to adulthood and parenthood, and the anxiety and fear that has been with me during that time. I found similarities between the physiology of being depressed and the nature of hauntings.
The album’s title, Black Dog is a term used for depression. Is that relevant?
Yes, that term became perfect for the album. The original black dog was a shadow I saw as a child. The black dog of depression gives the album title a dual meaning.
Did becoming a mother change how you felt about your music?
It changed the way my music sounds. It became noisier and full of anger, rage, and anxiety, which was a surprise. I thought I might calm down a bit when I had children.
Throughout the album, there is a sense of an observer. Is that person yourself, or another presence? 
Both. There is the voice of depression and anxiety, and also this "other" person you know is always there. I thought of having this ominous presence around you.
"We have to build protective instincts around ourselves"
There is also that sense of being out in the world, as a woman, aware of my vulnerability. For example, just going for a walk is never simple. We have to build protective instincts around ourselves.
When you started out, did you have any idea of the kind of artist you wanted to be?
I knew I didn’t want to fit a mould or be restricted by being female. I wanted to be flexible. I like to think in scale and of more than I can achieve as one person.
I like artists with unique identities. Kate Bush, Bjork, Bowie, and Prince—that ability to create personas and push their sound into different places.  
What would be your advice to anyone with ambitions to become a musician?
Follow your instincts. Put yourself out there without pressure to be "finished". Absorb things, experiment, and allow yourself to follow a journey where you don’t know where you will end up.
Being successful commercially takes a team and time. You have to love it and be in it for the long haul. 
There must be commercial constraints though. 
I have total freedom in what I do and choose to put out, and am privileged to be in that position. I have been independent all my career but now I have signed with Invader Records. I have always found people who supported me, and my music has been picked up by TV shows like The Walking Dead. That kind of commercial breakthrough is amazing.
"I have total freedom in what I do and choose to put out"
But I am also making albums that have a commercial format. So there is a framework. My music can deal with intense themes and putting that out to be reviewed can feel strange, but I am four albums down the line and know the drill. I work as a film and TV composer as well, so I am in the super commercial and the experimental worlds and I am happy in both. 
In previous albums, there is a sense of you as an observer, and Black Dog has a sense of introspection. What brought the change?
I feel there is a lineage with my previous albums, but sonically for this one I went with the mood I wanted to create. It is a departure but then again, I do not want to be restricted. 
When you tour the album will people see a show?
Yes. The music on stage will mostly come from me. We have a theatrical set-up with visuals and specific lighting.
There is a chair, and I shall operate like a medium where people can really get lost in the performance. 
Fast forward ten years, where do you want to be?
I would love to carry on following my instincts and making albums. I would like more of a portfolio of TV and film scores because I enjoy writing scores and collaborative work.  
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