RVBY MY DEAR released her second single “Waiting”, the title track off of her debut full-length album she released in June 2019. The song speaks of “loves lost and forgotten, hope regained, the companionship of regret, and the passage of time.” says Gabbi Coenen.
Listen to “Waiting” on Spotify here.
RVBY MY DEAR is the art-pop project of Gabbi Coenen, a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist originally from Perth, Western Australia, who is now based in Brooklyn NY. The band has been featured in publications like IMPOSE, Speak Into My Good Eye, and The Vinyl District, and have received rave reviews including being voted “Artist of the Month” by The Deli Magazine in 2014.
A formally trained pianist from the age of 4, Coenen formed RVBY MY DEAR as an outlet for her songwriting in late 2012, after moving to New York to attend The New School’s jazz voice program. We reached out to Coenen to learn more about her early beginnings and what advice she has for up and coming artists in the music industry.
Visit her website at www.rvbymydear.com.
WiMN: You currently reside in Brooklyn, but grew up in Australia. How was music influential in your upbringing back home, and how different is the music scene compared to New York?
GC: I was exposed to a lot of different types of music growing up – most of the music on the radio was from the US and the UK, but there were also a lot of local artists that would come through town. Australia has a really rich festival culture, which was a great way to find new music when I was in high school. I also went to university for jazz singing, so there were a few years where pretty much all I listened to was music from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I would say the music scene in New York is a lot more diverse, and people are much more willing to take risks with their work. Perth is a little more conservative in that way, but the level of musicianship and technical ability is definitely on par with where the Americans are at.
WiMN: What inspired the band’s name RVBY MY DEAR, and who came up with it?
GC: It’s based off the jazz standard “Ruby, My Dear”, all credit goes to the one and only Thelonious Monk.
WiMN: Do you still play the piano? How many instruments can you play?
GC: I do, though I don’t practice nearly as much as I probably should. I also play bass guitar, and I tried teaching myself guitar a few years ago but four strings is enough for me.
WiMN: What is the music scene like in Australia, especially for women trying to make a career in the industry?
GC: I’m not actively involved in the Aussie scene anymore, but I can tell from the outside that the women there are really working hard to make things fairer for themselves, and there seems to be more accountability these days towards venues and festival organizers to actually commit to booking more diverse artists. There’s an organization called All In, based in Melbourne, that promotes gender and racially diverse artists and gigs in the city, which is really cool to see. When I was there, I don’t think I ever played a show that was female-dominant, and there was an unfortunate ‘macho’ attitude from a lot of the guys I worked with, so I wasn’t very confident in my abilities for a long time. But things are definitely changing, as they are in the rest of the world.
WiMN: You originally came to New York to pursue education as a Jazz vocalist. How has that style of singing influenced your singing and songwriting for RVBY MY DEAR?
GC: I suppose my singing style is a bit more “mellow” and intimate than your average pop or rock singer, which definitely comes from the jazz approach, though I think I picked that up from a few Australian singers as well. My approach to songwriting is pretty rooted in jazz as well; in terms of the overall structure of my songs, I usually think of them as how you would a good solo or improvisation ,with obvious peaks and valleys; and I love using unexpected chords and harmonies. Though I did try with this most recent album to make things a little more straightforward and leaned more into my pop sensibilities.
WiMN: Which female artists inspire you today and why?
GC: There are way too many to list – pretty much any woman trying to make it in the music world inspires me! Since I keep mentioning Australia, I’ll shout out a few faves from the homeland – Megan Washington, Katie Noonan, Nai Pal from Hiatus Kaiyote, and my friends from university, Brooke Russell (an incredible alt-country singer/songwriter) and Allira Wilson (an amazing jazz vocalist). All of them are so unique and committed to doing their own thing, and I find that really inspiring.
WiMN: Can you share with our readers any advice on what it takes to make it in music today?
GC: This is a tough question to answer, as so much of it has to do with luck, being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people, which are factors that are out of most people’s control. Being involved in your local scene, and supporting other female and non-binary artists, is key. I think people these days tend to get more caught up in playing the “numbers” game and churning out content non-stop, and you do have to be your own advocate in the early stages of your career, so it’s important to pay attention to those things. (I should add that the “early stage” can sometimes take years). But at the end of the day, the most important thing is just to be really really good at what you do – write good songs, make good records, play good shows, and people won’t be able to tell you that you’re not ready if what you do is undeniable. You’re in a much better position to “make it” if you know what you want and you can confidently stand behind what you create.