Singer-songwriter Gavin Turek released her sparkly, disco-tinged R&B EP, Good Look For You, back in 2017 and ever since, fans have eagerly awaited more. Now poised to release her debut album, Madame Gold (named for her bold, powerful, superhero alter-ego), LA-based Turek is feeling a mixture of emotions—nervous, proud and hopeful. As with her first album, she worked closely with Chris Hartz (who Turek says is her “producer, collaborator, angel, he’s everything”), but the record went in a different direction than the two had initially planned.
Her sound—blending R&B, ’70s funk, soulful disco and pop—oftentimes conjures images of poolside soirées, rollerskating, disco balls and satin, but there’s poignancy and pathos behind her honeyed vocals too. As she tells us, this album took some time, a lot of energy and emotion. “We tried to make a more ‘danceable’ record that just sounded like the last project. It just didn’t work. It wasn’t natural. I think I was just going through too much internally to choose to rely on the old Gavin,” she explains. “With this project, I just really wanted to be as honest and truthful to the moment as possible. And girl, the moments have been many!”
Turek put immense pressure on herself to perfect the album, and the process took longer than expected. “We’re obsessed with making demos and trying a billion different ideas until we land on the right one. There’s many songs on the album that we rewrote four times—rewrote, reproduced, rearranged multiple versions of so many songs,” she says. “I think the process surprised us both. It really surprised me. I didn’t think it was going to be so hard.”
While the resulting music sounds undeniably like Turek, there’s no doubt it’s a diversion from her previous release; it’s a little darker, which makes sense considering how she was feeling. “To get to the root and into the heart of what I was experiencing—I would say it was an incredible amount of self-imposed pressure,” she tells us.
“As a woman, I become very accustomed to embodying shame; carrying a lot of pressure to be married by a certain time, to have kids by a certain time, pressure to have everything career-wise figured out, to achieve a certain level of success by the age of 30…After this experience, I keep on saying I’m going to be cool, I’m going to try to be cute but obviously I have moments of being extremely raw. One day, I promise I will write a memoir with every detail of the last few years so everyone really understands.”
Between the rewrites and self-doubt, there were many moments Turek wasn’t convinced the album would be completed, but explains her “ritual” for this creative process was just showing up—even (or perhaps especially) when she didn’t want to. “I rarely felt like going into the studio and going through the beating myself up, all the voices that say, ‘You suck, you’re not good enough, this isn’t gonna be good.’ Just the daily fight is the ritual. The struggle is the ritual.”
Now, as the album is set for release on 23 July, she says she’s thrilled to have been able to complete it. “I think it’s as an artist, as a musician who’s been pursuing this for so long, and kind of dreaming of making an album since I was a little girl. For me, it was about finishing it,” she says. While she’s anxious about the release, she’s also excited and hopeful about what the audience experiences when listening. “I feel very grateful that I’m finally putting something out that is very vulnerable. I feel excited and proud of myself that I’m taking a risk and that I’m getting out of my comfort zone by doing something that is a different side of me—showing another side of me.”
“I hope people feel that and appreciate the fact that I’m not trying to hide anything and overall I’m a joyful person,” she continues, “and I always want that to be a part of me. I hope people like it. I hope people care. I hope it resonates with someone. I want people to feel like they can save themselves instead of waiting for someone to bring the answers or the solutions in order to move forward. That is what I learned as a result of this album process, and I hope it comes through sonically, lyrically and visually.”
Turek also channeled some of that hopeful, joyful energy into making a summertime playlist for COOL HUNTING. “All these songs, I just want to hear by the pool,” she says of selections. “I just love these songs. I really put everything that I’ve been listening to in the last month or two. I’ve been really on this gospel house kick. There’s a lot of old stuff; I’m very nostalgic. And then I have a few key newer songs. But yeah, this is fun. Everything sounded summery.”
Images courtesy of Alex Harper