Opening with delicate piano and Gillian’s soulful vocals, the track builds to a buoyant pop chorus. “Static is about not wanting to go out, but also not wanting to miss anything,” Gillian explains of the relatable concept behind the track. “I actually wrote Static minutes before leaving my house to go out with my friends, feeling like I didn't want to go, but I also didn't want to miss out. Eventually, I forced myself to go. Static is special to me because it captures a feeling that I think is underrepresented.”
Gillian treats her music as a conduit for truth. Whether behind the piano or with a guitar in hand, the Boston-based artist chronicles life’s ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and trials and tribulations with thoughtful clarity, poetic eloquence, and a stirring soulful voice. Documenting the dissolution of a relationship, confronting the pains of addiction, or facing loneliness, she confidently conveys unbridled emotion with wisdom that belies her 16 years of age.
We got to chat with this young rising star:
Unheard Gems: Welcome, Gillian, to Unheard Gems. We are so excited to have the opportunity to talk with you. How are you doing today?
Gillian: I'm pretty good! I'm so excited to have the opportunity to share my music with Unheard Gems!
Unheard Gems: Just so our readers can learn a bit more about you, how did you know you wanted to get into music?
Gillian: I've been singing since before I can remember. When my brother started playing the piano, I decided to start too. I was five when I wrote my first song. I’d heard “Love Story” by Taylor Swift and it inspired me to write my first single… about being on a beach in Florida. It was a terrible song but hilarious looking back on it!
Unheard Gems: I’d love to just take a minute here...you are 16 years old! That’s crazy. I was 16 when I started Unheard Gems so I love to see the young talent and know their stories a bit more. How do you think being 16 and the experiences of being a teen shape you as an emerging artist?
Gillian: I think that, when you are a teen, life is still new and exciting. Things are constantly changing, for both the better and the worse. My experiences as a teen have inspired me greatly, and songwriting has always been an outlet for me as I've grown up. I also think that being young allows me to keep a lot of doors open. I love music and I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to pursue it, but there are so many other things in my life that are important to me, so I'm glad that I still have a lot of options.
Unheard Gems: I have to ask just as a fellow young person. How do you balance your music which is obviously your passion, and school and friends that come with the “normal” teen experience? I’m sure there is some give and take.
Gillian: The hardest part is releasing the music. It sometimes feels like I'm publishing a diary entry for everyone I know to read. The people around me are usually the inspirations of my songs, and things can be awkward and difficult when you write a song about someone. Although parts of it are hard, I am so passionate about my music, especially the stuff that I'm currently releasing. My friends and my boyfriend are also super supportive, which motivates me, even more, to keep pursuing my passions. It's taken me a long time to realize it, but, although other opinions can be important and beneficial, you should not let them stop you from doing what you love.
Unheard Gems: Your first EP, “Unfiltered” was released last year, what have you learned since that release about having your voice out in the world?
Gillian: Although I now cringe a bit when I listen to Unfiltered, it taught me so much. It was my first experience professionally recording music. I honestly just did it for fun and for the experience. I wasn’t really expecting much to come from it. However, "What it Felt Like" ended up streaming really well. Though I find some of my old songs pretty cringe-worthy, I still love that song. It means a lot to me, and I'm so glad that so many people enjoyed it. My favorite part of releasing music is that it brings other people joy and that other people can relate and connect with my songwriting.
Unheard Gems: Your newest single “Static” set for release on June 25th blew me away. You have an incredible maturity to your voice and songwriting that I almost wouldn’t expect. Can you talk to us about the story behind this single and what it means to you?
Gillian: Thank you! This single is one of the most truthful stories on the album. All of my writing comes from a place of authenticity, but this song is basically just a real life story.
"Static" follows me throughout a night of going out, from getting ready to going home. A lot of the time, going out with my friends is difficult for me and can give me a lot of anxiety; however, I also have a lot of FOMO in situations like this. "Static" basically encapsulates these feelings. This song means a lot to me, because I think it epitomizes emotions that are often stigmatized. I think that it is important to talk about these emotions, and I hope that the song helps people realize that they aren't alone in their emotions.
Unheard Gems: “Static” and “High” are the two singles we now have heard from your upcoming album, what can you tell us about this project, what can we expect?
Gillian: There will be a few more singles (which I am SO excited for) and then the album will be released! This album means so much to me. I like to talk about my songwriting in phases, and I think of this album as my dark phase. Though there are some happy moments on the album, if I had to describe the album as a whole, I would describe it as forest green (I know, weird description, but I love describing things with colors). I also carefully chose the order of the album, and I love each and every song on it. I can't wait to release it!
Unheard Gems: How is the music scene out in Boston? What is it like growing up with music there?
Gillian: I absolutely love the music scene in Boston. My family is also very musical, so I've always grown up surrounded by music. I went to my first concert when I was 7, and my family loves concerts and other musical events. Going to local concerts is really what keeps me inspired to keep writing and making music. Performance is such a big part of the art, and I can't wait to get more into it following quarantine.
Unheard Gems: We always like to know who our Unheard Gems artists are listening to, if you could recommend to us another artist you think deserves more recognition in the music industry who would you recommend?
Gillian: I am absolutely obsessed with Olivia O'Brien and I am still in awe at the fact that she isn't a massive pop star yet. Her writing is beautiful, her voice is unique, and she perfectly encapsulates the alternative pop genre. Her music inspires me daily.
Unheard Gems: Lastly, for all of our readers, where can they find you and your music, and is there anything else you want to leave us with that we didn’t talk about in our questions?
Gillian: I think that the questions have touched on basically everything! Thanks so much!
Interview by Hannah Schneider