Blending folk, blues, jazz, and and whatever else makes lovely music, Canada’s Whitebrow pumps out some catchy, eerie, and foot-tappin’ tunes. We caught up with Gabriel DeSantis and picked his brain for inspiration, quirks, and a whole lot of ‘what-if’s. Have a read below to get the scoop and find out what’s new and what’s next.
AMBY: For all those prospective listeners out there, how would you describe your music?
Whitebrow: Hmmm, well folk seems to be the popular response but that’s a bit of a cop out because folk is a pretty vague genre itself. Honestly that’s tough because it’s always changing haha. At first it was strictly the singer-songwriter type stuff, then the blues started creeping on in. Over the last year I’ve been playing some really great New Orleans style jazz musicians and I even hear that popping up in my own music. I guess on the whole I’m trying to move away from the soul-searchin’ and towards the foot-tappin’.
AMBY: Tell me something nobody knows about you.
Whitebrow: Ain’t no secrets here haha, I let all my skeletons hang loose in the songs I write. It’s like singing out your diary, which is why I cringe when I think of some of the things I’ve put out in the open. I guess not a lot of people know that I grew I up on a farm… but that’s not terribly exciting.
AMBY: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be and why?
Whitebrow: Living or dead? Because that’s a total game-changer. Honestly, I’d just want somebody that was a good roommate. Because Jimi Hendrix would be awesome but I know after a while I would be like, “Jimi, dude, can you PLEASE stop lighting my guitars on fire.” Haha, now I’m just picturing myself getting in petty arguments with music legends, “The toilet paper’s not gonna change itself Garfunkel!”
I think I would be scared to tour with someone I admired because it would be impossible to live up to the god-like vision I had conjured up. Never meet your heroes right?
AMBY: What can we expect off the new album?
Whitebrow: It’s big, it’s dark. I poured a lot into it and I’m happy with what turned out. That old church offered plenty of solitude and gave me the opportunity to dig in real deep and figure out what was up. It was definitely challenging at times, but towards the end, after Mike DeiCont and Frank Evans recorded upright bass and violin respectively, I thought it might be something special. Those bowed instruments are crazy man, I swear to god sometimes it sounds like breath, like the instrument is alive and breathing.
AMBY: If you weren’t in a band what would you be doing?
Whitebrow: Music doesn’t really offer the tangible results that other jobs do and that can create stress. So I like to balance it with physical work where it’s easier to gauge success. I paint houses with my dad and it’s great; this morning the room was blue and now it’s beige, job done. I also landscape in the summer time and that’s tough but rewarding, so probably something in that vein. I went to school for journalism so there’s that as well.
AMBY: Has growing up in Canada influenced your sound, and if so, how?
Whitebrow: I think so, definitely, I love this country. We’re into the dog days of winter now, each passing day of cold ways heavier on the frayed nerves of Canadians nationwide. But would we cherish the summer time as much as we do if we didn’t have to endure these endless winters? I think the cold gives us a certain levelheadedness and respectfulness that you don’t really get in other places. I like to think that Canadians have a better ability to look at the world objectively and I try to do that in music. I’ve got a song called Northern Lights which is a tribute to Canada as well as Neil Young the almighty.
AMBY: Where did the name Whitebrow come from?
Whitebrow: One summer when I was a kid a small patch of hair on my eyebrow turned white. Don’t know why and neither did the good doctor, stress was her best answer.
AMBY: If you could be any character in fiction, whom would it be?
Whitebrow: Good one. When I first read Catcher in the Rye in high school I wanted to be like Holden Caulfield, but Holden was more badass at 17 than I am at 23. As much as I’d love to be the lone wolf in a wild wild west town, like Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars, I don’t have the sand to pull it off. If I’m going to answer honestly I would probably be the quiet, observing type, a Nick Carraway or Sal Paradise.
AMBY: What are three songs that could sum up/be the soundtrack to your life so far?
Whitebrow: “It’s alright Ma (I’m only bleeding)” by Bob Dylan, doesn’t really pertain to my life at all but it’s my favourite song lyrically.
“5 bit Blues” by Kid Koala, again nothing to do with my life but it gets me groovin’.
“Grinnin’ in Your Face” by Son House, because the words of others shouldn’t hold much weight as long as you can look at yourself with a clean conscience.
AMBY: What’s next in the world of Whitebrow?
Whitebrow: Hopefully good things. We’re shooting a couple videos with Southern Souls this month. Then the album release show is on Friday March 29th at the Tranzac Main Hall and we hope to see all of you there. It’s going to be a party. Then we’ll be at a few festivals around Ontario and beyond throughout the summer.
Thank you Whitebrow, for giving us your answers!
[bandcamp track=1737372493 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=9042bb size=venti]