Meet Eskimeaux, the Best in Brooklyn Indie Pop

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Photography by Amanda Silberling.

In the music video for “Broken Necks,” a song from Eskimeaux‘s breakthrough full-length O.K.Gabrielle Smith makes direct, unflinching eye contact with the camera, dancing and singing in an eerily upbeat way. It’s both confrontational and endearing, just like the rest of Smith’s music, which mixes quirky bedroom pop with a musical and emotional self-awareness.

Over the past seven years, Eskimeaux has evolved from an experimental, atmospheric project to a full indie pop band, anchored down with percussion from Told Slant‘s Felix Walworth. But Eskimeaux is by no means Smith’s only endeavor – she honed her skills touring with bands like Frankie Cosmos and Bellows, somehow adapting to a never-ending tour schedule with a range of acts. When Eskimeaux released her newest album O.K. in May, Smith showed us that tireless touring and immersion in The Epoch, an arts collective she helped start, definitely pay off.

This Friday, October 23rd, Eskimeaux will re-release her 2011 record Two Mountains on Yellow K Records. We caught up with Gabrielle Smith about her relationship with the Philadelphia and New York City music scenes, the Epoch arts collective, video games, and much more.

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Gabrielle Smith and Felix Walworth perform as Eskimeaux at OK Fest (July 24, 2015)

Rock On Philly: Two Mountains originally came out in 2011, but you’re re-releasing it on Yellow K Records. What made you decide to put out the album again now?

Gabrielle Smith, Eskimeaux: It wasn’t really my idea. It was actually the record label’s idea. They got in touch with me, and they were like, “Hi, would you be into this?” and I was like, “Yeah, sure! Sweet!” and they were like, “Let’s put it on vinyl!” and I was like, “Well, okay!”

Two Mountains album cover, courtesy of the Artist

ROP: I think I saw on bandcamp that the limited edition clear vinyl is already sold out, which is pretty impressive.

GS: Yeah, the fancy one – that’s sold out. The less fancy one, which is still nice but just not on clear vinyl, is still available.

ROP: Two Mountains has a different, more ethereal tone than O.K. – do you think that you’re moving towards the sound of Two Mountains again, or is the re-release just something that you thought would be cool to do?

GS: Oh, it’s definitely the latter. I still really like it, but I’m much more into the percussive aspect of making music now. I feel like it’s still me, so everything I do is going to have a million layers of vocals on it and have some weird sound that you’re not sure what it is, but in terms of sounding like Two Mountains, I feel like, at least not right now, I’m not.

ROP: I’m really interested the arts collective The Epoch that you helped start. There’s so much connection, for example, with Felix Walworth from Told Slant playing in Eskimeaux, and you playing in Told Slant, even though they’re pretty different projects. So, how did you all meet and decide to start a collective?  

GS: Felix [Walworth, of Told Slant] and Oliver [Kalb, of Bellows] went to high school together, and I went to the same high school, but I’m older than them, so I graduated before they were there. Henry [Crawford, of Small Wonder] and Jack [Greenleaf, of Sharpless] grew up in Park Slope together, with Felix and Oliver, who also grew up in that neighborhood. Richard [Gin, photographer] worked for Felix’s dad, so there’s just all these weird ways in which we’re connected. But, I guess in high school, Felix, Oliver, Jack, and Henry used to share songs with each other that they were writing and, at some point, I came along and started also sharing what I was doing with them, and we all individually respected each other. I guess we decided that we should call ourselves a collective after high school, and everyone was going away to college, and we were freaked out about being apart from each other. So, we sort of made it an excuse to stay in touch and share what we’re doing with each other.

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Eskimeaux performs at OK Fest (July 24, 2015)

ROP: You went to University of the Arts in Philly for a bit, right?

GS: [laughs] Yeah, for like, a second.

ROP: Were you involved in the Philly music scene during that time?

GS: Yes. I was in a band in Philly called Br’er for a while, and then in a band called Power Animal for a little while. I played shows in Philly before. My first show was at a place called the Bubble House. It was a bubble tea bar that had some weird poetry readings and acoustic shows for a while.

ROP: That sounds like it would’ve been really cool. 

GS: It was, but they didn’t give me free bubble tea, so I was pissed [laughs]. That’s part of the fun – figuring out what food you’re going to get while you’re waiting to play.

ROP: Have you ever gotten anything really weird to eat from a venue before a show?

GS: There was one time in Columbus, Ohio. I was on tour with Frankie Cosmos, and the place was like, “Oh, we’ll give you a free meal!” And we were like, “Cool, that’s awesome.” And the lady who ran the place was like, “I’m going to give you all this Korean food in a big silver pot,” and we were like, “Woah!” It was really exciting.

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3 Comments

  1. Bryana Natale

    October 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Okay. She seems super awesome. Loled when she talked about her “fancy vinyl” selling out and her time at Uarts. Love how so many artist credit Philly with “weird music.”

  2. Lauren Silvestri

    October 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

    This is an awesome, in depth interview, great job Amanda!

  3. Pingback: Frankie Cosmos Chats Sold-Out Shows, Eskimeaux and Poetry - Rock On Philly

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