If there was one thing I yearned for watching hours upon hours of teen programming growing up – it was a summer romance. Alas, I never went on any sort of vacation nor was anyone ever interested in me that way. With that, I continued to live vicariously through tales on screens both big and small but had a song like “One Summer” from Gabe Watkins been available then – I would’ve played it more than a few thousand times until it was time to head back to school in the fall.
That is because this delightful indie-pop gem captures what I wanted but also, just delivers as a well-rounded good time for the ears. We talked about the summer that inspired this song, working with Three Man Down’s Peerapon Iamjamrat, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: You did what I wish I would’ve done many years ago and that’s take a gap year after high school. How beneficial did you find that year and do you think more should embrace that educational break?
Gabe Watkins: The gap year was great for me. I had been thinking of taking one, but the pandemic starting around the time that I finished high school made the decision easier for me. I didn’t get to travel as much as I wanted to obviously, but the time off allowed me to just concentrate fully on doing what I love most – which is making music. It was nice to finally have the time to sit down and work on something that I’m passionate about full time. And I would encourage others to embrace the experience of a gap year too.
Kendra: Now you’re fully diving into music, right? Was your family taken aback by that decision at all?
Gabe Watkins: Luckily my family has always been supportive. Music’s always been a prominent part of the household. My Dad has been a big influence. He’d write and sing his own songs on the guitar when I was younger, and constantly play his favourite records around the house. I was exposed to a lot of different music from an early age – and my love for it just grew from those early experiences with family.
Kendra: You don’t have to go into details but is the person you’re singing about in “One Summer” from the gap year? But in regards to the song, why do you think it’s hard for summer romances to last into the fall and beyond?
Gabe Watkins: Yeah, you could say that. The inspiration for the song came to life during my gap year, and what I was experiencing at that time. I think it’s harder for summer romances to last because summers can sometimes feel like an escape from normality. And these romances become like their own separate thing – something that feels more special when you’re in it – and less so when you’re removed from it.
Kendra: Was this the first song you ever wrote or was this just the first one to go from paper to the studio to a finished product?
Gabe Watkins: “One Summer” was the first song I wrote for my upcoming album. It was really just a song where everything came together so smoothly – but that really sparked my confidence as a songwriter – and for me, it kickstarted the whole process of making an album.
From writing the song to finishing up in the studio, that all happened in about a week. And after that, the finished product just gave me real confidence to go out and write more and more songs.
Kendra: Which, you worked with Three Man Down’s Peerapon Iamjamrat on this. Did you learn anything from that experience that you sort of tucked away to use again and again in your career?
Gabe Watkins: I’ve learned so much from Toon (Peerapon). He’s been so helpful and supportive from the beginning – ever since I started making my own music. He’s taught me a ton about production and all the different aspects of songwriting. What I always try to do and something I’ll continue to carry with me, is his advice on always being bold and creative in my musical decisions.
Kendra: On top of creating amazing pop songs, you’re also quite the traveler. Your Instagram is one to be envious of. In all your travels, is there one place you’ve spent time that moved you to write more than others?
Gabe Watkins: A couple of years ago I spent a summer traveling around Europe. I spent a lot of time in Amsterdam and took to the city. I stayed on a houseboat with some friends for a few weeks and it was one of my favourite experiences. I ended up writing quite a few songs during that trip – and it’s a time and place I look back fondly on.
Kendra: “One Summer” is out now but what are your plans as we head into the fall? More singles? An EP? Shows? Let us know…
Gabe Watkins: Yeah it’s a busy time coming up and I’m just really excited. My next single “Blue Skies” will be out later this fall, and I have my first studio album lined up for the end of the year. I also can’t wait to get out there and play some shows, and hopefully hit the festival circuit once everything opens back up.