Wonderland.

GAZEL

The classically trained instrumentalist crafting a story in song.

Wonderland Gazel interview autumn 19 issue

Dress MILÓ MARIA.

Wonderland Gazel interview autumn 19 issue
Dress MILÓ MARIA.

“I was always much more interested in creating something that had a story – in creating my own world…” Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gazel is remembering her time at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Music, where she trained as a violinist before realising she couldn’t flourish creatively playing with an orchestra. “You’re a bit like an actor, you just go from a script,” she explains. “The part of classical music that really didn’t appeal to me was the rigidity of it.”

At 16, Gazel discovered electronic music production software, and combined her classical training with experimental new sounds to craft her own unique sonic landscape. “I was on Radio 6 a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve had mess- ages from people saying that they heard the track and turned it up because they hadn’t heard anything like it,” she agrees excitedly. ”I can’t say that it’s music for everybody, but I’m hoping that a small group, my people, will feel that.”

Her debut album Book of Souls, due in early October, showcases her eclectic approach with a bewitching journey of unexpected twists and turns: Gazel conjures a hazy dream world with meditative chants and ethereal vocals, asking us to dance to steel drums one minute and absorb light piano melodies the next. Static violin solos, frantic synths and textured percussion build intensity and emotion, tempered with steady, soothing beats throughout.

Wonderland Gazel interview autumn 19 issue
Wonderland Gazel interview autumn 19 issue

Left: Top and trousers PAUL & JOE. Right: Dress SELF PORTRAIT.

Wonderland Gazel interview autumn 19 issue
Left: Top and trousers PAUL & JOE. Right: Dress SELF PORTRAIT.
Wonderland Gazel interview autumn 19 issue

For those who want to dig deeper, the 14-track album will arrive alongside a booklet explaining the complex storyline running through it. “I really wanted to make something that felt whole, and I felt the best way of doing that was to have a story,” she says, with Book of Souls’ plot following the journey of young girl who encounters a series of “souls” in the desert. “I’ve actually always been more inspired by books and writing and text than I have been by other music.” Based on Jungian archetypes, each “soul” (and each song) represents a character within the collective unconscious of a fictional town in the Middle East, which has changed unrecognisably throughout the years. With an upcoming tour in October, she’s even going to build the town on stage for each of her immersive performances. It’s a timely exploration of community and responsibility as much as self-discovery, where “the main character has to go through the collective subconscious of the town to understand how she can bring it back to its roots.”

For an artist with such an uncompromising vision, it’s hard to imagine Gazel working within the confines of a classical orchestra. And when I ask her what her teenage self would have thought of her trajectory now, she doesn’t even need to pause for thought: “I feel like this was always going to be what I ended up doing. I wanted more than anything to be free, to not be under an umbrella or working for someone else – I very much wanted to be doing my own thing, whatever that is.”

Check out Gazel’s new track, “Walk On Land”, below…

Photography
Elliott Wilcox
Fashion
Abigail Hazard
Words
Rosie Byers
Hair
Sven Bayerbach at Carol Hayes Management using BOUCLEME
Makeup
Hannah Brooke at Gary Represents using Noir et Blanc de CHANEL and CHANEL Sublimage Eau Micellaire
Special thanks to
Kaileidoscope Studios
GAZEL