Like a lot of people I discovered Gibbz from his work with Gramatik. The first time I saw him live I couldn't get over the unprecedented swagger the guy had on stage. Who the fuck did this guy think he was? But more than that, the overwhelming thought of the night was, “This brother can sing the shit out of some songs.” Luckily, since then Gibbz has been on a tear, releasing a constant stream of sexy, fun tremendously dancey synth-pop. Near the end of 2016 he released the stellar Oh My God EP and if you haven't got that into your earholes, you definitely should. I was lucky enough to get ahold of him at home in New York as he prepares for his first-ever residency, at the famous Knitting Factory, before heading off on his first full headline tour – just him and drummer, driving in a van, working the road. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing the supremely talented singer/producer/gangster of love, do yourself a favour and get out to one of his shows.
Enjoy the title track from Gibbz' tremendous Oh My God EP.
1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
Yeah. I went to a store that was called The Wiz, way back when that was a store. It was kind of like Best Buy. “Nobody beats the Wiz,' was their catchphrase. I went in with my own money. I bought three records. I bought Busta Rhymes – “Dangerous” single on cassette, Usher - My Way on cassette and I got my first compact disc ever, which was Britney Spears – Hit Me Baby, One More Time.
Of the three, which holds up the best for you?
Well, Dangerous is such a badass song. But I got the Britney Spears because it came with a poster. You could pull out the booklet and it folded out into a poster and I was like, “Sweet!” I wanted Britney Spears on my wall. I didn't really give a fuck about the music, so I bought it just to put a poster of a chick up on my wall. I remember my parents were like, “No, that's not gonna happen.”
How do you feel about using the inserts and little gifts that come with albums? Because I'm always really torn as to whether or not I should keep them intact or not.
The whole point of that stuff is to be used, right? May as well use them.
2. When is the last time you did something for the first time?
I guess...cutting hair. I cut someone's hair for the first time the other day. I've been cutting my own hair for six or seven months now. I love having a connection with my barber, but I haven't found a barber like my old barber before my old barber quit. Until I find a new good barber I'll just do my own. But I cut my buddy's hair. That was a first. It was pretty cool. I felt like I was in charge. I had the power to just fuck everything up for him. “Do I just wanna run this razor over and ruin this dude? That would be hilarious!”
Did it go well? Was he happy with the cut?
Yeah. My buddy Mike Iannatto (aka Cobrayama) DJ'ed during a live stream and I cut his hair.
Is it more challenging cutting your own hair or someone else's hair?
Cutting my own hair is more challenging. You gotta use mirrors and stuff. I have a t-shirt that I cut the sleeves off and I put the sleeve over my head and it forms a line in the back of my head and I use that as a guide.
3. What's your best memory of an elementary or high school teacher?
I had a chorus teacher in middle school. His name was Mr. Phillips. He was tiny guy with a big nose, he looked a little bit like a bird. He had thick, dark eyebrows, almost like Scorsese. He would always say you have to sing with your eyebrows. He would point to his eyebrows all the time. Like if your eyebrows aren't moving you're not singing on pitch or something. There'll be times when I'm singing and moving my eyebrows and I'll be thinking, “Oh shit, this dude.” I just think of this guy's face every now and then, wondering if I'm moving my eyebrows the right way.
4. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
That's a tough one...it would definitely be somebody dead...I think it would be Charlie Chaplin. I'd wanna talk to him because he was one of the original United artists with Douglas Fairbanks, Walt Disney...I would love to know about the world back then. And the fact that he starred in, directed and wrote the music for all of his shit. That's badass. That's really not wanting to pay anyone. And I get that because I don't wanna pay anyone either.
5. Have you seen or felt a ghost or ghost-like presence?
I'm not really into the whole ghost thing. It doesn't really do anything for me. If you're stuck in between worlds, that's just shitty. I get it if you wanna just bug some people. I wouldn't be freaked out by it, I'd be like, “Nah, it's cool. Purgatory sucks, man. I'm with you.” I've been to the DMV, so I know, purgatory sucks.
I've never thought of it like that. Wow, yeah, that does suck.
You gotta be understanding with those ghosts! I also think, if something even slightly affects you in that sense, we have this thing in our heads that we make things so much more than they are. We have to build a narrative in their heads. There has to be a plotline. Nothing just happens because it happened. “I have to find out the history of this house...in 1938 a guy dropped a cigar on his leg, so now he's haunting the place.”
That's a really specific ghost story. Cigar Ghost.
Lou Carlson dropped a cigar on his leg and yelled “Yaaaaooowww.” So every now and then, if you listen closely, you'll here “Yaaaaooowww.”
6. The guest questions from the homie Stickybuds...What's one law or public policy that you disagree with and how would you change it?
Oh jeez, Stickybuds, come on, man. I think prostitution should be legal. It's safer for sex workers. They should have somebody behind them, in more than one way if you know what I mean, and be able to get tested and regulated. It's the oldest occupation, it should be fucking covered.