From Watching J. Lo Videos to Working With FINNEAS and Beyond: Gabrielle Current Talks Road To Debut EP

For alt-R&B powerhouse, Gabrielle Current, it all started with J. Lo.

Videos by American Songwriter

“My mom would always have live performances of J.Lo on the television,” she told American Songwriter. “I would stand on the coffee table with a broomstick, copying her every move. I love live performances in general, the lighting, the outfits—all of her songs felt like they came to life and the audience was experiencing this collective emotion. That’s how I knew I wanted to pursue a career in music one day.”

And now, “one day” has arrived. After years of building up her name through singles and features on other artists’ work, Current is finally getting her chance to step into the spotlight outright: on May 27, she’s set to drop her debut EP, Virgo. While it might not have the same bombastic flare as something like On the 6, Current’s laid-back, neo-soul-inspired vibes are impeccable, announcing the arrival of a gifted artist.

While Current’s potential has always been evident to anyone who’s known her, it didn’t start seeping into the public’s awareness until she started dropping singles last year. Her most recent single, “If I Fall,” for example, has already racked up tens of thousands of streams for its slap bass-clad arrangement and J. Dilla-inspired feel.

But Current’s story goes a lot further back than 2020—it goes all the way back to the 5-year-old girl watching J. Lo videos with a broomstick mic stand in her hands. “I fell in love with music at a very young age,” the now-24-year-old said. “My parents put me in this performing art school that I would attend on the weekends. It was in Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles. I started doing live, cover performances of my favorite songs. I love getting to dance and sing on stage and seeing people in the audience just have a good time. So, that’s where I started when I was 5 years old. Then, I started writing my own music when I got older. That’s when I started taking this career more seriously.”

Throughout high school, Current began cutting her teeth on everything there is to know about the music industry—from the songwriting side of it to the actual “releasing music” part of it. “When I first started writing songs, it was back in the days of SoundCloud and YouTube videos,” she explained. “I picked up a guitar and learned the basic chords or would just copy chords from songs that I already loved and was singing on my own. Then, I would write about whatever was going on. It was very simple. Then, I would just post it to SoundCloud.”

This sustained Current’s artistic desires for a while… then, everything kicked into high gear when she met an extraordinary young producer: FINNEAS.

“To this day, looking back, I would really consider him to be like a mentor to me,” Current said. “I was probably 18 years old, right after high school. We had met very briefly because he was in a band and we were both playing at this show in a park down the street from my school. We talked a little bit and then we connected on Facebook, funny enough, and we just set up a session. From there, we became really good friends and continued writing. At the time, I had never done sessions. I had never collaborated with people in terms of producers or co-writers. So, he really showed me the ropes and introduced me to other producers and songwriters. I honestly feel like I fell in love with collaboration through working with him.”

That was a huge moment for Current—ever since FINNEAS inspired an appreciation for co-writing in her, she’s been an outspoken advocate for creative collaboration. “I love bouncing ideas off of someone else,” she explained. “I love landing on a subject and seeing how another person might interpret that subject into lyrics or a melody. After I worked with FINNEAS, I became open to working with as many producers as possible and learning their techniques and styles. I didn’t close myself off to any genre. I found myself doing a lot of pop, a lot of electronic and dance music—which was cool for a while. And then, through that, I finally felt ready to create a project of my own, which is where I am right now.”

While FINNEAS is no longer producing Current—though, he’s still a big supporter of her, citing her as “one of his favorite artists to work with” in an interview with Ones To Watch—the new team she’s assembled for Virgo is stellar, bringing her and her vision to the next level. “I met a producer named Austin Brown,” she said. “He makes R&B, neo-soul music, which is a genre that I’ve always found myself wanting to sing. So, once we started writing together, the sessions and all the songs came together really naturally. It was just one after the other. So, I picked five of my favorites from that year and we really tweaked them over through the mixing and the mastering, reproducing. I’m a perfectionist, so I did my vocals, like, five different times, creating new vocal arrangements and tracking all the different harmony parts.”

This process may have taken Current a while, but to her, it was worthy labor. See, after years of holding back and waiting for the right moment to let her talents shine, she was down to go to great lengths to ensure everything about that moment was up to snuff. In the end, the record-making process not only satisfied this artistic mission, but also revealed a lot about Current to herself. 

“I always say that writing sessions are like therapy sessions,” she said. “You really have to dig deep into a situation in order to analyze all the aspects of it and then write about it in a way that feels relatable to whoever might be listening. These songs on Virgo, for example, came from the period of my life that year where I felt like I was losing all of the relationships I was in—whether that’s romantic, friends, family members, etc. I was desperately trying to hold on to them, trying to find my work through those relationships. I was able to write it all out through the songs and realize that the only thing I was missing was a type of love that can only come from me, a freedom that could only come from me. So, it’s a nice sonic diary of self-discovery.”

That’s another thing about Current that makes her an amazing artist: a radical sense of openness. There’s a fluency between Current the person and Current the artist, and that dynamic plays itself out in her songs, often painting a poignant portrait of her human side. Likewise, Current likes to be adaptive with her arrangements, allowing the songs to develop and change as the evolving themes deem fit, even if that means entirely rerecording them. 

“One of the songs already out is called ‘Plenty,’ which is a perfect example of that process,” she began.

“I wrote it with my friend Barkley, who’s an amazing songwriter and artist. I came to her with this idea after a situation unfolded with the relationship I was in. It was just like a therapy session—I was like, ‘I need to write about this, I need to tie the bow on this experience with a song.’ We had a lot of details and examples to pull from, so we wrote it on guitar and I brought that voice memo to my producer, Austin Brown.

“From there, we came up with one idea that felt like it had a lot of Spanish-influenced guitar,” Current continued. “The drums were very simple and there was no second half or bridge section of the song. We sat on it for a couple of weeks and then we went more into this, like, reggae version of the song. We sat on that too, but we eventually came around to ‘No, I think I need this to sound like a healing release, where you’re finally letting go of a relationship.’ So, I was like ‘I think this needs more ethereal piano chords. The bridge needs to feel like you’re going on a journey, like you don’t know where the second verse is going to take you.’ I wanted it to sound completely different. It’s like when you’re letting go but you don’t know where you’re going to go next yet. So, by getting really specific about what the song means to you, you can then incorporate that into the production.”

That multi-tiered creative approach to song craft is signature for Current. Virgo itself is lined with lived-in songs, speaking to the great effort and passion that she poured into each of them. Now, with the EP dropping in just a few days, Current can hardly contain her excitement. 

“I’ve been sitting on this project,” she said. “I first started writing this in 2018. At the time, I didn’t know that it would eventually become a full body of work. I’m honestly just so excited to finally have these songs out in the world. This is my first step into the music world, so I wanted to make sure that everything felt really good, that it felt like it’s really me.” 

Gabrielle Current’s debut EP Virgo is out on May 27. You can pre-save the EP HERE and watch a visual for it below:

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