Name: Leah Chisholm aka LP Giobbi
Occupation: Producer, DJ, label owner, curator, music director, feminist, entrepreneur
Current Release: LP Giobbi's remix of Junior Sanchez's "Music So Special" is out now via Undisputed. [Read our Junior Sanchez interview]
Recommendations: "The Artist’s Way" and "The Artist’s Way". I’m saying it twice cause that is the book that changed my life.
If you enjoyed this LP Giobbi interview, follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud to stay up to date on his work. She also has a twitch channel and a personal website.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started piano lessons in 2nd grade and getting the piano teacher I got was the greatest gift I've been given. She cultivated creativity to my core taking entire piano lessons to play the inside of the piano or just play bongos or dance! I studied with her until I graduated high school. Then I went to college to study Jazz Piano Performance. I don’t know why but my parents told me I begged them to learn piano. I was just drawn to it and it was so early I don’t even know why.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
When I first started producing I definitely would study the tracks I loved trying to figure out how they created them production wise and then I would go to YouTube to try and find a video that explained whatever sound I was drawn to. IT WAS A PROCESS! And anytime I tried to replicate something it would never come out exactly that way and in the process you find your sound!
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I was raised by Deadheads and I am finding the through line in dance music and jam bands. They are both a part of being something greater than yourself and losing yourself in the music. So I am really enjoying collaborating with people outside the “dance” world and pulling in acapellas / guitar loops from jam bands.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
Getting technically comfortable in Ableton. It just took opening up the program every day and experimenting / playing around.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
When I started I was a bit of a snob as far as wanting to use hardware gear / vintage synths and running things through outboard gear etc. But as I started touring pretty intensively, it became a necessity to figure out how to create with just my computer in the box. Although I’ll always have a love of synths, I have found having less options for sound creation has helped me hone in on my chords and the melodies more.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
I used to write songs on the piano - lead / jazz sheets. And now I write songs through sounds in the computer. So the technology of using a DAW has greatly changed things for me.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I LOVE COLLABORATING! The hardest part for me of being an electronic producer is how much alone time I have in the studio. I receive energy from people so the more I can collaborate the better. I like file sharing to take my time with an idea and I also love being in the studio with a “yes, and” approach to watch what happens when someone else's creative brain is in the process.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I start with three pages of “morning Pages” stream of consciousness word vomit to get it out of my head and onto the paper. Then I do an hour walk around the lake next to my house. Then I make my hot water concoction and do my piano practicing / sampler practicing / live show practice. Then I dive into whatever studio work I have for that day: making my radio show, working on a track or a mix, crate digging, session etc. Then I get caught up on my emails and go on an evening run.
This is my ideal day but since touring has started back up my routine has been squashed and it's sort of a free for all do what you can until you drop! That isn’t sustainable though and I’m working on ways to bring my routine back.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I played a show in Portland years ago that my whole family came to. I was so nervous cause I wanted it to be PERFECT! Then I got on stage and messed up right away. Awful mix into an awful track selection and there I was … still breathing. I saw my family see me and I realized that no one cared. What they want from me is for me to be present, share my love of music and be a conduit of joy for other people on the dance floor. It isn’t about perfection … it is about being part of something greater than yourself. All I have to do is take care of myself so I can show up and share my love.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I used to think you had to “be in the right mindset to create.” But it is a practice - not a state of being. What I have to do is show up day after day. To sit down and open Ableton and play. To show up with the same sense of childlike wonder that I used when playing dress up or pretending to run my own detective agency as a kid. To focus on the wonder instead of the product.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I spent most of my life intellectualizing music. I went to school to study jazz and I could tell you every note that would fit over these chord changes etc but I stopped listening. My first dance show I went to blew my mind because it wasn’t about notes as much as this meditative bpm. It was for your body and not your mind and it got me out of my mind and into my body and this was a very, very, very healing experience for me. One that made me want to dive head into it!
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
If I ever make a track that gives nod to or is inspired by another culture it is extremely important to either talk about the influences and give credit where credit is due in all press and socials around the music, or if it is a collaboration with someone from a different culture, to highlight their voice and center their voice in all conversations around the art and to make sure they are getting compensation equally and fairly for their work.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Music always comes back to nostalgia for me. The more I like a song the more it brings me back to a very specific time / place / feeling.
The other thing that does that for me is smell. Hearing one of my mom’s favorite songs immediately helps me remember her smell and both of those things help cement memories for me.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
My viewpoint through this and my role in the kind of music I make (dance music) is through a feminist lens. What made me keep going and open up Ableton every day and grind through learning how to produce was that I did not see enough visual representation of people who looked like me producing music. It is hard to be what you don’t see.
It wasn’t until I learned that Grimes produced her own music did I even think that was an option for me on a subconscious level. That alone expanded my concept of myself which was such an empowering gift that I use in all parts of my life and the gift I hope to give other women.
I started a nonprofit called Femme House that teaches women the technical aspects of music making and has become a community that makes me believe anything is possible.