As an adoptee, Gabrielle Smith knew nothing of her lineage beyond her birth father’s Tlingit heritage (indigenous peoples with roots on the Pacific coast of Canada and in Alaska). So to reclaim her cultural identity, Smith decided as a teenager to perform her lo-fi “Bedroom Pop” under the name Eskimeaux.
After a childhood of choir and violin training, Smith began writing songs in her late teens and released her first album, iglu songs, in 2008, the same year she enrolled at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. Two years later, Smith dropped out of school and returned to Brooklyn, N.Y., where she crafted three more releases before co-founding The Epoch, a Brooklyn collective comprised of local artists and friends she had met at UOTA with the aim of establishing a support system for the area’s creative community.
Since then, Eskimeaux has released seven additional titles, including her 2012 self-titled album, which consisted of re-recorded versions of her 2010 demos collection, Ixsixan, a project she completed during a bout with writer’s block. Inspired by artists at The Epoch and friend Frankie Cosmos (the performing name of Greta Kline, daughter of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates), Smith created last year’s more full-bodied O.K. album, a combination of her wispy Synth Pop and waves of Electronic-washed Indie Rock featuring contributions from her live band, Oliver Kalb, Felix Walworth and Jack Greenleaf.
The most recent Eskimeaux release, the six-track Year of the Rabbit, follows a similar path, with an emphasis on the Indie Rock direction as bubbly Pop melodies and Smith’s Dominique Durand-meets-Jane Siberry vocal thrall act as a stealthy disguise for her dark ruminations on the end of a relationship. In a mere 15 minutes, Smith unleashes more raw emotion and captivating music than many musicians can muster in three times that length. Amazingly, after eight years and a dozen releases, Eskimeaux may just be hitting her stride — her next steps will be thrilling to witness.