Most 14-year-olds aren't plotting which songs to include in a set opening for the Magnetic Fields. Yet, this is exactly what San Clemente artist Gal Musette is doing. Inspired by her father, who played the band's music for her in her formative years and the band's 69 Love Songs project, wherein they did create 69 such songs, the young musician decided to one up them by writing 70(!) love songs.
Gimme Noise spoke with Gal before her show Tuesday with the Magnetic Fields at First Avenue to get her thoughts on creating such a ambitious project.
Soft-spoken and extra polite, Gal answers questions in a succinct manner in the same child-like voice -- like Joanna Newsom, but actually young -- that drifts through her songs. She has written 35 songs so far, halfway through the task that she has set for herself. The singer says that her pieces are all about love, because she can't really write about anything else -- although she'll sometimes write little songs about her sister on the side.
The majority of the recorded songs were written over the summer when she had more time off from school to dedicate to the music, but with school in session, it's been a little tougher to squeeze in the practice and songwriting. Drop into this mix some writer's block, and there are times when the commitment is a little slow going. Gal says, "I will sometimes get in a these writing spells where it comes easily, but sometimes I'll be depressed and I can't write anymore. Then, my father will be like, 'Oh, yeah you can write.'"
Her father was also the one who emailed the Magnetic Fields' manager, Claudia Gonson, on a whim, telling her about Gal. Impressed by her drive, Gonson emailed back and subsequently kept up with Gal. When there was two shows available with openings, one in Minneapolis and one in St. Louis, Musette made sure her calendar was clear to share the stage by opening for the band. "It was such a shock; we were jumping up and down, cause they are not only my favorite band, but also my whole family's favorite band."
Of her own songs, Gal says that she doesn't have a favorite, once she's done with the piece, she likes to move on to the next one. "It's not that I don't connect with them anymore, I just prefer to try new things, and it's just the old songs are the old ones." She does have a favorite Magnetic Fields song though, "The Night You Can't Remember." She says, "I find it has clever lyrics and melody. I like the song a lot."
Musette has given herself a time frame of high school graduation to finish the project, backed by the support of her family. Like a lot of musicians, she can't read music, but was instead influenced by her father and grandfather to learn the piano. Her shows and pieces implement her bandmate, Brent Samson, who is going to school for business and helps with the business side of the music, on guitar and Gal on vocals and/or ukelele.
The young songwriter is learning that's it a tough world out there when you are baring your art for the world to see. Building a thick skin is a part of the industry that she says she has learned the hard way. When she first starting getting some press attention, Musette says that she read the blogs, not so much anymore, though. "I try not to read things written about me anymore, because I don't want to get offended. It's hard not to read it, but it did happen where someone wrote some things about my voice that were very hurtful. I try to keep in mind that for every hundred compliments I get, I will get one negative comment. It's helped a lot." On whether she has had anyone look down on her due to her age, Gal confides, "I don't think so, not that I've seen to my face. There are some people open to what I do."
Gal Musette will open for the Magnetic Fields at First Avenue on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.