After establishing himself with a wave of glittering releases these last few years, emerging singer-songwriter Gianni Bee is now back once again to deliver his breezy new single 'Sunflower'.
Teaming up with vocalist Maddie Ashman for the new offering, 'Sunflower' makes for a beautifully sweet and tender listen. With their joint vocals layered across a shimmering acoustic-led production throughout, he continues to shine as one of the more heartfelt names doing the rounds right now.
So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has been inspiring him most over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
My first instrument was the guitar. Although I was always touched by music, I was never attracted to playing an instrument until I was 15. Growing up with my parents in a very isolated part of the Dominican Republic, the distractions were scarce ; we didn’t have internet, no electricity most of the time. I would write fiction, draw, build little things out of paper, cardboard and aluminum foil, anything remotely artistic to be honest, but music was never part of it until my older brother Ugo came to visit us and very spontaneously bought me a guitar. It all started from there. In retrospect he said he “created a monster” haha.
What kind of music did you love when you were younger?
I had the chance of growing up with parents who were very into music, despite not being musicians themselves. They stayed away from commercial pop and made me discover classical music, folk and Americana, traditional African chants in albums my dad would bring home from his travels. It was all very enriching and diverse.
What was the first album you remember owning?
The concept of owning music isn’t that emblematic for me (gen z-er, born in 1998 whoops) BUT the first two albums by Paolo Nutini were a huge part of my musical awakening, finding my style what I wanted to make. I literally stole these albums from my aunt during a summer in France and brought them back to the Dominican Republic, and my parents and I listened to them every time we got in the car for two years straight.
What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?
I happen to have given this a lot of thought and it would be without a doubt Another Love by Tom Odell. In my opinion it’s one of the few perfect songs out there, and I’m certain it will make history, that in 50 years we will regard this song in the same way we are looking back at some classics like Can’t Help Falling in Love or Yesterday now. I would actually sell my soul to have written this song haha.
Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?
It’s absolute chaos honestly. I can go one year without writing a song, and I have absolutely no process. Usually it’ll come from an idea in a moment of a very intense feeling, usually a sad one. A piece of melody sometimes comes with the idea, and then I try to develop it to turn it into a song. I think even though it makes it harder than it should be, having no process can actually be a strength. You’re forced to rediscover the path to songwriting every single time, and not have a recipe and end up inevitably repeating yourself.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
My favorite artist since I discovered him back in 2018, is Tom Rosenthal. I discovered Tom’s music at a very key moment in my life, when I was struggling to figure out who I was musically speaking, what to sing, what to write. It’s hard to define what I like so much about it, I just instantly resonated with this man’s way with words and music, a way that includes both depth and humor, and that reveals the beauty and romance in everything, especially the things that would go unnoticed or what one could consider “not song worthy”. I don’t know, he just seems like he has fun with it, with the songwriting process.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Umm… Taylor Swift, but I don’t think it would be good for me, I would make it my entire personality and become absolutely insufferable about it haha. Realistically, I would love to open for Billie Marten, Gregory Alan Isakov, Passenger, The Villagers… I love the intimacy of their gigs and I think they could fit very well with my set, plus I’ve been obsessing over them for years.
What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?
Creating something that you’re proud of, that comes from your heart, watch it come to life, something that didn’t exist and that now is part of the world, is an incredible, thrilling feeling. Of course the shows, meeting the fans, seeing people contribute to the songs by relating to them with their own stories, living stories with your songs as the soundtrack, is absolutely amazing, but it’s just a bonus really. The whole process makes more sense when people listen, but I think I would still do it if no one did.
And what is the most frustrating part?
Honestly, as someone very aware of mental health, I find social media quite difficult and nefarious. the mandatory social media presence for artists, and the whole desperately grabbing for people’s attention promo is very frustrating. There is a lot of competition and releasing new music can feel like being in one of those chicken suits on the sidewalk next to a fast food restaurant (strange metaphor I’m aware). But it’s part of the game, and I believe we all have to adapt to the evolution of the music industry whether we like it or not. I try to have fun and be creative with it anyways.
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
There is a short video on YouTube by my favorite songwriter Tom Rosenthal called 5 songwriting tips, that has been very enlightening for me and that I think everyone should know, whether or not they’re interested in music. Won’t spoil them for you but I think if I were to summarize it, it would be “try to make music as freely as you can, as if no one but you was ever going to listen, or as if you were going to find your songs on the shelves of a music shop somewhere where you’re the only customer, and think to yourself “this resembles me and I want to listen to this on repeat”. That’s the goal to me, it’s not easy to achieve and I definitely don’t think I’m there yet, but I’m trying.
Gianni Bee's new single 'Sunflower' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.