UVa-Wise alumnus Gabe Hawkins has been playing music for 13 years now. His passion for music started after his parents’ got him a guitar for Christmas. Hawkins also plays bass and piano. He has turned his hobby into something serious.
Hawkins’ new EP, “Nightmares and Locusts”, is proof of his seriousness as he turns his love of pop-punk, alternative rock and indie music into something that is uniquely his own.
“I’m influenced from a ton of different artists across a number of genres, but the ones that stick out are Tom DeLonge from blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves, The Cure, Weezer – so many,” Hawkins said.
“Nightmares & Locusts” was not Hawkins’ first EP. A few years ago, he released ‘Pluto’, a collection of his songs.
“The whole thing was a way for me to teach myself how to record and get better at songwriting, so while it wasn’t my best work by any stretch, it taught me a lot,” Hawkins said. “It really sparked my interest in getting serious about recording and songwriting.”
Hawkins worked on “Nightmares” for 10 months. The idea came to him around New Year’s and he started working on demos and working ideas for songs around this time. He does all of the recording and mixing for the EP himself, so he’s an artist and producer all in one.
“It’s a pretty time consuming trying to play the role of artist and producer at the same time, but it’s fun and you learn a lot in the process,” Hawkins said.
‘Nightmares & Locusts’ is a unique concept because it’s based off of a short story that Hawkins wrote. Each song on the album is tied to the events in that short story, but they can each stand alone.
“I’ve always been interested in the way music plays off other art forms, like when a band releases a concept album and a movie or something along those lines,” said Hawkins. “I had sort of formed this story in my mind over the course of a few months, and I had considered doing a full length concept album, but I thought that doing an EP and a short story would not only be a little more interesting, but also more digestible as a listener/reader.”
Hawkins says the songs on the EP are inspired by love, fear, loss and dreams. The title track on the EP, called ‘Gemini’ is inspired by one of the main characters from the short story.
“She and another main character, Adam, find themselves in some pretty crazy circumstances, and there’s a bit of a love interest there as well”, said Hawkins. “Outside of the story, the song touches on the feelings surrounding a breakup or lost love. I chose this song as the single because I thought it did a good job of showcasing a little bit of everything that’s on the EP musically.”
While they are connected, the short story is somewhat different from the lyrics that appear on the EP. “The short story is about two people experiencing sleep paralysis and nightmares about being abducted by aliens, so the song lyrics touch more on the emotions that come along with their experiences rather than documenting the narrative in song form,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins is the president of the independent production company Beverly Drive Productions. He started the company with another UVa-Wise alumnus, Martin Kilgore.
“We primarily work with musical artists doing mixing and mastering work, but we are also trying to build a collaborative community of artists,” Hawkins said. “We want to bring in artists from all sorts of fields – music, writing, painters, filmmakers, etc. – and not only help them create and share their work, but also work on collaborative projects.”
Their ultimate goal is to bring in talented people to the company to create interesting art.
Hawkins is currently working on projects with musicians and songwriters for whom he has co-written or produced songs, but he is not working on anything of his own. He wants to take a break after the release of his own EP before starting something new.
The five-track “Nightmares & Locusts” will be released on Nov. 14 and will be available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and anywhere else digital music is sold.
The EP also will be available on Spotify and Apple Music, and physical copies can be purchased at Beverly Drive Productions.com