Interview With Northeastern Student and Musician, Sidney Gish
September 25, 2018 | By Alexa Portigal, Photos by Audrey Berlin
Only 21 and already on the music industry’s radar, singer-songwriter and Northeastern fourth-year and Music Industry major Sidney Gish sat down with Artistry Magazine to discuss all things music and her experiences with other musicians on professional platforms.
“When I was younger, I started playing on an electronic keyboard that I had at home,” Gish recalled, sitting on a bench in Krentzman Quad on a gloomy Thursday afternoon. Along with the electronic keyboard, where she experimented with various symph noises, Gish picked up the recorder and ukulele in the fourth grade, before becoming more serious about music and joining her high school’s choir in ninth grade.
Photos by Audrey Berlin
Gish expressed that up until this year, she never really thought about pursuing music on a professional level and becoming a solo artist, until she saw that her most recent album, “No Dogs Allowed,” garnered a lot of success on streaming platforms. Her goal is to continue releasing albums until she feels that her producing skills are at an advanced level, so each album she releases can be marketed on a more professional platform.
Gish applied the production skills she acquired from creating her first album, “Ed Buys Houses,” to her second album, “No Dogs Allowed.” After mixing “Ed Buys Houses” on Garageband, Gish decided to upgrade to a music program called Logic with “No Dogs Allowed.” “With Garageband, I learned how to multitrack vocals and guitars just from fooling around in high school,” she said. “For ‘No Dogs Allowed,’ I took the sketches I created from the previous year and tried to make them into something bigger.”
As for her very playful and personal song titles, Gish draws inspiration from everyday life events and uses her experiences as a basis for uniquely naming her tracks. For her song titled “!Ed Buys Houses!” Gish came across a sign while on a walk, collaged it, and decided, “this would be a cool album cover.” Another song title, “I’m Filled With Steak, and Cannot Dance,” on “No Dogs Allowed” was created when Gish attended a wedding. “‘I’m Filled With Steak, and Cannot Dance’ was a note that I wrote at a wedding when I was filled with steak and unable to dance.” Gish said that her note from that night became the name of the project file, and when it was time to rename it, she said she decided that her original note was better than any other name she had tried to come up with.
Photos by Audrey Berlin
Working in a professional environment this past spring on a co-op in New York City at Island Records, a record label under Universal Music Group Inc., Gish was able to learn the ins and outs of the music industry, all while advancing her own music career. “It was a really educational to be working in the environment of a major label. It [also] coincided with the “No Dogs Allowed” release, and for the first time, I was getting emails from people in the industry,” she said. “Having the opportunity to work in the A&R department and to basically be an artist scout during the day and then to be scouted by other labels, was extremely meta,” Gish said.
She had another professional glimpse into the music industry world, as she went on a cross-country DIY road trip this past summer, touring with other established indie bands. “I was riding in the same van as the band Petal, along with their tour manager,” Gish said. She did a bit of everything, from “playing the set, settling with the venues, selling merch,” and much more.
Gish’s summer road trip wasn’t her first experience on tour, as she opened for indie-rock artist Mitski for the first few days of her New England tour leg. Gish traveled by herself, meeting up with Mitski at the venue every night. Not only did she have a great time playing with Mitski, but she also had to handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes logistics. “It was helpful for me to plan out routes and what time to leave the city; to decide who I was crashing with, etc. It was basically me acting like a tour manager,” Gish said. “I had to learn how to juggle all of those different roles at once. It made me feel better about hiring someone in the future to be a tour manager, since now I know what I am hiring them to do.”
Her attitude for putting music out into the world is very relaxed, and Gish doesn’t concern herself with “making it” in the music world, but rather with giving her listeners music they truly enjoy. When asked where she sees herself heading in the music industry, Gish responded “I don’t know really, I just want to make another album because I know that I can and I have enough ideas to.” She said her music, “might do well and it might not do well, maybe this year was just a year of random hype, but it’s been really fun, so I hope people continue to enjoy it even if it doesn’t get good press or a ton of listening streams. As long as people listen to it and enjoy it then that’s fine--even if the big conglomerate of indie press people don’t like it.”
Gish describes being featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist as an “anomaly of a situation, that [she’s] really glad happened.” With nearly 90,000 monthly Spotify listeners, Gish is very happy to have a larger platform on the well-known music streaming service. “Being an independent artist and having control of my platform on Spotify, I don’t even need to go through a label, I just go through a distributor and I can just do whatever I want with it.”
Gish is constantly working on new project files on her laptop, which are always filled with an extensive collection of ideas. She plans on making “another intentional release out of the fragmented ideas that [she] has.” With a growing platform, Gish wants to ensure that people are truly enjoying the songs she is putting out. Her creative jolts usually appear out of boredom, “I’m mainly just bored all the time and doing stuff on my Notes app or Logic.”
When asked about her current plan, Gish replied, “to keep doing exactly what I have been doing, but slightly more people are paying attention now. So I’m like ‘OK, I’m gonna act normal now.’ It’s definitely really exciting,” she said.
Concerning balancing her school life with that of a burgeoning music career, “I guess we’ll find out,” she said with a laugh.