Saxophonist Gibbons is poetry in motion

  • Gianluca Gibbons — cover art painted by Jessica Roe — The Last Roe (Photograph supplied)
  • Gianluca Gibbons
  • Cover art painted by Jessica Roe (The Last Roe)
  • Gianluca Gibbons

Gianluca Gibbons is looking forward to next year.

The saxophonist and composer released the music video for his breakout single, Shades of Me, on Friday.

A labour of love, he has been working on the track for two years and its accompanying poetry book for more than ten.

“I’ve waited till now to release it because I have a good bit of music that will be released coming into the new year,” said Mr Gibbons whose soul/pop band Heritage will release their new project in 2018

The book, which will come out in January, is “a sequel” to the song. The video is bookended with spoken word.

It opens in an art gallery where he is cleaning the floor; it ends with him entering a venue to do a gig.

“That’s the daily reality of an artist,” he said.

“You do the gritty work behind the scenes — you’re practising, you’re working because you have to finance your dreams. At the same time, you perform on stage and you’re seen as an artist.”

Mr Gibbons moved to Los Angeles two-and-a-half years ago and has survived on a mixture of work — marketing, events, gigs, songwriting and motivational public speaking.

“The grind has been real,” he laughed.

“It’s anything you can get your hands on.”

This year, he landed his first movie role in the upcoming feature Romancery, based on the producer’s autobiography The Dirt Merchants. He takes on the role of a motivational speaker at a sales convention.

“It’s a really cool part,” he said.

“I’m giving a monologue about good and evil and going the right way or the wrong way. I’m narrating his arrest, in a sense.”

The 26-year-old started speaking professionally in February as ‘Millennial Mentor’ Mr Life Stylist. He was featured on CBS Los Angeles last month.

“In my art and public speaking I have to be transparent,” he said.

“There’s a lot of honesty and though-provoking material in my poetry. It’s very intimate.

“I’ve travelled a lot. By the time I was 16, I’d lived in about three different countries, went to seven or eight schools and then I went to boarding school.

“Poetry became a therapist. When I was frustrated or didn’t understand things or had moments of high emotion, my most familiar place was my mind because everything else around me — cultures, countries, things would change.”

Mr Gibbons also directed his promo. As he drives through Los Angeles, he passes a dancer, played by choreographer Keva Walker, and a violinist on the street, figures that disappear and reappear, symbolic of his creative process.

“We do a lot of driving here in LA,” he said.

“That’s where I write my lyrics and a lot of my poetry. As I’m driving, my ideas are coming to life.”

Having performed and lived around the world, from South Africa to Spain, Mr Gibbons has been able to draw from many cultures and experiences for his original sound.

In Los Angeles, he has played at legendary venues such as Bootsy Bellows, House of Blues and The Viper Room. He studied Jazz in Cuba.

“Most people expect a different sound when they think of saxophone,” he said.

“[I’m] breaking the mould of what people expect to hear from a saxophone. It isn’t jazz necessarily ... It’s a new sound to show the versatility of the instrument, while bringing a new and fresh musical experience for my listeners.”

He will return to the island this month for the first time in almost three years. He hopes to put on shows and collaborate with the island’s talent. His bandmate, singer Hanna Eggen, will also return.

“I’m excited to come back to Bermuda, put on some events and connect with the local artists,” he said.

“The Shades of Me project was so exciting because I was able to create a project from the ground up. I composed the music, I produced it, I engineered the recording, I directed the video.

“It’s such a steep learning curve. I really learnt the process from PR to creating the video, to sending out a press release to getting on playlists, to getting it on Spotify, on iTunes, having a marketing campaign and putting out teasers.”

He hopes to bring his knowledge and connections to the island for workshops. He and Ms Eggen recorded two songs with producer Tommy D who has worked with the likes of Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Prince, Céline Dion, among others. Two weeks ago, the pair opened for Wyclef Jean.

“When I set off to California, that was a dream of mine — to bridge the gap,” he said.

“In the climate of the current industry, there are so many resources for an independent. You don’t necessarily need a label to get your music out there, but you do have to understand the industry itself.

“I’ve been able to gain information from different A&R’s, from Warner Brothers to Atlantic Records to performers that have toured the world. Being in this environment has really helped me so much.”

He says he follows the island’s artists online.

“Bermuda has so much talent. I see it. My goal is to bring people that can make a difference through information or opportunity and have them really connect with the local artists and give them a head start.

“In this industry, knowledge is power. Your creativity is important, but the knowledge of the industry is powerful. The more you can educate yourself and acquire those tools then you can really push yourself a lot further.”

Shades of Me, now streaming on YouTube and Spotify, and for purchase on iTunes


Instagram: @gianlucagibbons

Shades of Me (music video):