Meet Sidney Gish
Photography by Sonya Alfano
Words by Isha Chirimar
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Sidney Gish is refreshing. Her latest album, “No Dogs Allowed”, sounds like absolutely nothing I’ve heard before. In a DIY scene where artists and albums are starting to blend together because it feels like everything unique has been done, Gish’s lilting voice and self-aware, poetic, lyrics stands out as completely individual in the best way possible.
Perhaps what makes her music so unique are the lyrics: almost depressingly self aware, they capture the psyche of being twenty, twenty one, in the most comedic way. “I Eat Salads,” off of “No Dogs Allowed,” is the perfect example of this: the light, breathless tone Gish sings in draws a sharp contrast to the lyrics, “Bitch I’m wasted / Just kidding I’m high / We’re gonna go to a show / And then come home and then probably die.” Gish describes everything that’s going wrong but almost laughs at herself. “Midnight Jingle” from her previous album, “Ed Buys Houses,” actually made me laugh - the line “there’s the geniuses and then there’s me / scrolling through clickbait endlessly” is such an accurate description of how so many kids feel and it’s almost painfully self aware, but it comes out so casually that it makes you laugh.
That probably comes from her writing process. When we asked her what’s behind her utterly real yet so funny songs, Gish said, “I like to try out new things a lot & record whatever I think will be interesting at the time. I usually will go off of one main idea that's set in stone (melody, lyrics, instrumentation, etc) and improvise other elements around it and see if the completed thing that comes out is good a day later.” She also described a very natural process around writing, where she just writes down whatever comes to mind and combs through it when she needs a new song. This kind of organic process makes her songs, simply put, fresh.
Gish’s music has been getting quite the attention lately - covered by Billboard, Fader, and Medium, her self-released album reached the world outside the DIY scene, where she started out. She’s been recording on her computer and self releasing music on Soundcloud since she was a teenager, but since she started seriously making music in the past two years, she’s been involved in the Boston DIY scene. She says, “I got involved in playing shows in Boston through playing open mics, going to local shows, saying yes to mostly every gig i was asked to play, and eventually I was lucky enough to end up meeting a lot of friends and playing shows with bands who were into the same music I was.” After releasing “No Dogs Allowed” on New Year’s Eve of 2017, 2018 has been a crazy year for Sidney Gish - she says, “it’s strange to think that [my music]’s had a larger reach this year specifically than ever, but it’s a good strange. I’ve always liked putting creative stuff online just since it’s really satisfying for me, but that people can find their own meaning & enjoyment in it, especially recently, is such a lucky thing to experience.”
Alongside recently breaking out as an artist and interning in A&R at a major label, Gish opened for Mitski on the New England leg of her tour. At Retrograde, we cannot get enough of Mitski so obviously we asked if it was totally amazing, to which Gish said, “Yes! The tour with Mitski was just for a week before her record release, and I had a great time. I've been listening to her music for around two or three years now and I'm really glad I was able to tour with her. Her live set for this album is stunning. The venues we played were mostly creative spaces in smaller cities I'd never been to before, which was really cool. I got to know her and her touring party at the shows along the way, and I got to see my friends who were based along our route.” However, Gish manages most of her business herself. Gish, impressing us once again, managed her tour by herself and was her own driver, and merch person. She said, “Each day I usually did a scenic route through a forest or up the coast. It was really calming and felt like some sort of cool quest or something, especially at the end of summer.”
Keep an eye out for Sidney Gish and new music from her (her past two albums have been released right around New Year’s, so maybe soon?). In the meantime, check out “No Dogs Allowed” on Spotify, Bandcamp, and Apple Music. I promise, you’ve never heard anything like it.