BLED Fest Artist Feature: Andrea Gibson

“It’s my hope to create art that supports people in feeling like they are welcome in this world, that they belong here, that there is a place for them, that their lives can be fantastic, and that they are immensely deserving of love and celebration.”

Andrea Gibson has three poetry collections, seven albums and a recently released illustrated book under their belt for a reason, Gibson is an immensely talented writer who captivates listeners with their work.

Their 2018 release, Hey Galaxy embodies not only the emotions surrounding the current political upheaval, but Gibson’s own personal moments as well as a handful of guest features. The delicate music paired with their strong words create a powerful body of work.

Gibson will be at this years BLED Fest, and is the first of our series of artist features. Editor-In-Chief Kailey Howell had a moment to chat with Gibson regarding their work, and the festival.

Kailey Howell: I can’t stop listening to Hey Galaxy, it’s honestly amazing from beginning to end. What inspired you to create this piece of work?

Andrea Gibson: I wanted to create something at once political and empowering and tender and loving while collaborating with some of my favorite musicians in the world. I wanted the end product to comfort and disturb and shine a light on the possible during a time when many of us are feeling hunted by despair.  I wanted to make something that would combat despair while still holding space for grief.

KH: The album has a slight juxtaposition to your 2013 album Truce, which had more of a musical tone whereas Hey Galaxy is more stern and empowering. Did you plan this change? If so, what inspired it?

AG: The sternness is most certainly a response to the election of a fascist president. And along those same lines– it was really important to me to keep the record empowered throughout.  I didn’t want anything about what I was creating to resonate from a place of hopelessness or defeat. I wanted it to ring with a feeling of moving forward towards something incredible.

KH: The track “Ode to the Public Panic Attack” really speaks to listeners. Can you tell me a little about the writing process behind it?

AG: I actually wrote that poem directly after having an awful panic attack on stage that filled the entire room with an awkward shakiness. I wrote it so the next time that happened I could stop whatever poem I was reading at the time and read, Ode to the Public Panic Attack instead. For me, being as transparent as possible about my internal experience offers me a great deal of comfort. Hiding has never calmed my nervous system.

KH: What track resonates the most with you? Can you elaborate on why? 

AG: On this album the track that resonates the most with me is “ORLANDO”, a piece about the massacre at Pulse. It’s a difficult poem for me to read on stage and it has gotten more and more difficult as time has gone on and more massacres continue while gun laws remain the same.

KH: As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, how do you hope your work makes an impact with those coming to terms with personal acceptance, as well as representation in the media? 

AG: It’s my hope to create art that supports people in feeling like they are welcome in this world, that they belong here, that there is a place for them, that their lives can be fantastic, and that they are immensely deserving of love and celebration.

KH: This May, you’re playing BLED Fest here in Michigan, a festival that prides itself in its diversity. Are there any bands that you’re looking forward to catching? 

AG: As for music I’m most excited to hear Kississippi as I have a friend who has played with them a lot and I’ve never had the chance to catch them live. And I’m in love with the writing of Neil Hilborn and have never seen a full set of his so I’m psyched to see him as well.

KH: What can we look forward to from you for the rest of 2018? 

AG: Lots of wild stuff! I’m brainstorming lots of collaborations that I’ve not seen done before.  I’m dreamy about collaborating with filmmakers and dancers and skateboarders, and I also have a new book coming out in November!

 

Kailey Howell