Nabil Gonzalez is a half Spanish, half Jordanian Singer-songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist. He is one of the artists who are going to perform his original songs on the 21st of April at The Cobblestone, organised by Babylon Radio. Prior to the concert, we had a chance to have a chat with him about songwriting, his years on the road as a vagabond musician, and how music became a part of his artistic identity.
Aron: Could you tell me about your artistic project and how you got into songwriting?
Nabil: Well, let me see, my passion for songwriting started around the late 1990s, firstly, I got into mainly the pop genre by the influence of Michael Jackson and that sort of stuff. But by the early 2000s I made a major switch, jumping from the pop genre to grunge, and alternative rock music, and ending up in a band around 2004, which I found with my best buddies. From the beginning, they kind of wanted to play covers primarily, that annoyed me a bit since I rather wanted to write and perform original tunes. Since day 1, I was the lead singer of the group and later on I started to play rhythm guitar too. Eventually, this formation became a sort of a hard-core/punk-rock band, so I was doing some harsh vocals, and making it as raspy as possible, and yeah sometimes around 2007, stopped playing in bands and started to focus on writing my own songs and experimenting a little bit.
Aron: Can you name any influences, any artist or band who inspired you to get into songwriting?
Nabil: Oh you know, I listen to all kinds of music regardless of genres, but If I had to pick a few, I’d say Sufjan Stevens inspired me a lot, so did City & Color. But I also love the records of Nick Drake, for instance. As a singer-songwriter, probably he is the one who had the biggest impact on me.
Aron: When it comes to your solo artistic project, do you have a mission statement as a singer-songwriter/performer, a message that you’d intend to deliver or represent to your audience?
Nabil: To be honest, I’ve always kind of considered songwriting a sort of a channel for confession. Through music, I’ve always wanted to express the certain state that I was in at the time. But the older I got, the more I started appreciating two aspects of songwriting, number one was when it came to story-telling based on some sort of a fictional stuff, and intended to make it cinematic and as visually exuberant as possible. The other aspect of it was when I started to fuse these fictional metaphoric images with real-life experience that I actually went through. So, after a while, songwriting, instead of the channel of personal confessions, became the way for me to talk about certain stuff from the perspective of mental health instead. To speak of certain things that everybody emotionally and mentally can relate to.
Aron: Right, now please tell me about the last time you played music live! Was it before the pandemic?
Nabil: Oh, yeah God, well, as a singer-songwriter, the last time I had a gig was in 2014. Yeah, It’s been a while. It was about playing as an opening act for a band in Jordan and it wasn’t the best experience but it’s not why I’ve been a little bit inactive lately. Since 2014, a lot has happened. Besides the pandemic, I’ve also moved around several times in Europe, lived in multiple countries, including Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Though I’ve put performing music and singing live aside for a bit, I stayed productive as a songwriter, and released multiple records. Also, since last year, I’ve also started to get into making short films, stop-motions, and actually drawing as well. The more you stay creative, the better!
Aron: Which aspects of songwriting would you prefer? The procedure of writing songs, recording them in a studio or rather performing these original tunes live?
Nabil: Hmm, that’s interesting, I’d say, I rather enjoy the part of performing music live, because I’d like to have a connection to an audience, feeling their energy around me and their reactions to my music has always been essential to me. That’s the same experience I had during my time in that punk rock band as well.
Aron: Is the upcoming gig on the 21st going to be your first live performance in Ireland?
Nabil: Yes, it’ll be my debut concert in Dublin. It’s gonna be interesting because I’ve always played my songs before in solo, accompanying myself with a banjo or a guitar, and this time I’ll be joined by Frank Francone who’s gonna play the guitar, so I’ll be able to focus on singing exclusively which I love the most, and frankly, I prefer collaborating with other musicians, so, yeah, I’m actually really excited about it.
Aron: Do you have any plans for the future as an artist?
Nabil: Sure, I mean for me, the major goal has always been getting a record deal in time and making a living with my own music. Although, it is also important to me to just stay productive and creative, getting out there, getting to know Dublin and the music scene over here. Being opened to as many collaborations as possible, playing with other people and being a part of the community here.
Aron: How do you find Ireland so far, not as an artist but as a person? Would you like to stay here permanently in the future?
Nabil: Yeah, definitely, I wanna stay. I mean that is my primal goal for me as a person. I’ve moved around a lot lately and the recent years have been a bit bumpy for me, I’d rather say, it’s been an unstable period. I need stability, a base really. I’ve been searching for a home, and I think this place could become my haven in time.
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