A story of love, loss, and self-discovery told through five dream-pop-tinged tracks, RVBY MY DEAR’s latest EP (out 11/18 via Spirit House Records) embodies the musical prowess Gabbi Coenen has spent her entire life nurturing. A captivating listen from start to finish, the EP’s intricate beats, thoughtful textures, and existential lyricism set it apart from any traditional collection of pop songs, pulling you in close with its emotional soundscape. As Coenen puts it perfectly, the album “rewards careful listening.” Coenen, the multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter behind the noir-pop project, didn’t set out to make an EP when she decided to record songs during lockdown. But, as she started playing out ideas on a keyboard in her bedroom and sharing them with producer Andrew Lappin [L’Rain, Chromeo, Big Red Machine], his confidence in their sound encouraged her to complete them. Soon she realized each song not only reflected a new version of her sound but of herself as well, one she was ready to share with the world. “I do view it as a reset in a lot of ways,” the Los Angeles-based artist shares. “That’s why I chose to make it a self-titled EP.”
Today RVBY MY DEAR has released the single “Over It” along with an accompanying video. Swirling in ‘90s British electronica influence, the track presents a deeply moving piece of music.
“I wrote this song as way to process the end of a relationship, before the relationship had actually ended,” says Coenen. “In the moment of writing the song it became a way to cope with the experience of being with someone with severe mental health issues and trying to figure out how to be heard and make space for my own issues within the relationship. I think many women can relate to the feeling of when we know something isn’t right, but we feel this obligation to “fix” someone. It can be very difficult to distance yourself from someone when you become so invested in trying to help them get better, but at the same time I had every opportunity to let go and didn’t (“I never learn”), even though the same issues kept coming up over and over again (hence the title).
As soon as the production on the song was finished I knew I wanted to shoot it in an abandoned location in the desert to represent the end of the relationship, with a sort of “ghost of exes’ past” occupying the house. Luckily the directors of the video had been to Twentynine Palms the year before and had scouted a bunch of abandoned shacks in the area. I can’t say I’d recommend shooting outdoors in the middle of the desert in July, but I’m so happy with the result that it was worth the mild heat exhaustion!”
Originally from Perth, Australia, Coenen’s bond with music started at just four years old when her mother put her in piano lessons. It was just a few years later that she picked up the electric bass, ordaining it her instrument of choice. Coenen then attended high school for performing arts, honing her vocal talent by singing in choirs. She continued that education in college, studying jazz voice, first in Australia then at The New School in New York. “That’s where I started writing my own music,” she remembers, noting how the formative experience helped her create a signature sound. “The vibe at The New School was very experimental: avantgarde noise rock free jazz along with neo-soul and future R&B.” The New School is also where the first iteration of RVBY MY DEAR was formed and the band released their debut album, Waiting in 2019. But, after going on tour the band “fell apart.” In March of 2020, with her calendar completely clear, thanks to the hiatus from her project and the pandemic, Coenen decided to move closer to her family who was now in Los Angeles.
The songs she wrote during that time, which would ultimately feature on the self-titled EP out November 18, 2022 on Spirit House Records, were not only inspired by the feeling of being alone sparked by the global lockdown, but the recent end of a long-term relationship as well. “It was a very dramatic breakup, just before my birthday,” she says. “I was by myself for six months in this apartment and finally getting used to being on my own again, and that informed a lot of what I was writing. Then when the pandemic hit, everyone was alone. Those feelings of being in that relationship coupled with what was going on in the world filtered into the songs. It was the starting point.”
Coenen not only wrote each of the songs on the record, but leaned into her wealth of musical experience by playing multiple instruments. “I played all the piano parts, all the bass synth parts, and most of the synth parts,” she shares. This was a new experience for Coenen who in the past had been too overwhelmed by the desire to play perfectly to trust her talent. “With previous records, I was relying on the band, and coming from an academic jazz background, there’s a lot of pressure to be the absolute technical best at your instrument,” she says. “I had shied away from really owning that side of my musical background because I felt like I wasn’t good enough, so it was important to me to play as many of the instruments as I could this time.” That acceptance and awareness of self, from the textures and beats that highlight her musicality, to the lyrics that shine a light on the emotional debris she sought to clean up after the collapse of a romantic relationship, can be heard in each track of the self-titled EP.