Gabriel Garzon Montano & The Dm That Landed Me In Colombia.
If you’re not familiar with Gabriel Garzon Montano’s music you should stop reading this and go listen to it instead.. if you’re still here cool- cause this is a good fucking story. A little background -Gabriel is a French-Colombian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who lives in New York and sometimes at his dads ranch in Pereira, Colombia. I’ve always known about his music, because I truly think Gabriel is a genius. Im a fan. He’s friends with the most talented musicians in the game, always gets good reviews from the coolest blogs, you know he’s stays mysterious, never brags, and grew up with Zoe Kravitz- he’s that guy. In probably any industry, but especially the music industry sometimes it feels so exclusive that you can’t break through or get in with the “cool kids” or on the “right playlist”No matter what stage or level you are. As an artist there’s always this feeling of not feeling good enough or cool enough.. Co sign and cancel culture make it even harder to get people to champion or work with you. I cant even get some of my actual friends to promote my music, and fellow artists sometimes never like to promote others artists music. I get it. But, I also don’t get it. Anyway- this isn’t about why we all want to appear cool to others and the fucked up music industry and my sob story.
its about how Gabriel Garzon doesn’t give a fuck what you think about him and how he saved my artist self! He also remains the least judgmental person I’ve ever met. He truly reminded me why I wanted to be and artist in the first place. But more importantly reminded me what kind of artist I could choose to be. He is a rare breed of unaffected, enlightened, raw creativity in all forms. I am forever grateful for his wisdom and that dm back that led to me traveling To Pereira Colombia to meet a “verified stranger”
Let’s me take you back before I dmmed Gabriel.
I of course intimidated by him, assumed he was pretentious, a music snob, he was sampled by Drake for fucks sake, he’s got cool tattoos, his mom played with Philip glass, he gets compared to D angelo, he actually came to meet my ex in our house -who wanted to sign him and I remember staying upstairs because I was too afraid to come say hello… he turned the deal down. Legend;) I just assumed he would never fuck with me. I doubted he knew of my music or existence.. yada yada poor insecure me…
Anyways flash forward - it was August 2019 I was coming down from the high of finishing my second album by myself and started to realize that after my album came out I would eventually need to start making music again. Fuck.. Though I finished my second album on my own- I started it with the same person who I’ve made most of my professional music with.. Could I make music by myself? And if I couldn’t do it alone would I ever be able to work with someone else that I liked or made good music with. or that I didn’t have to date… Sigh…
I was in New York, I think my manager was about to quit, I was clearly in an insecure weird place as an artist. I was in a relationship with a non musician that was going great until he stopped communicating with me for most of the summer and threw himself into his work which was killing me. With no more album to finish, no sessions booked, or timeline goals on the whiteboard- I felt lost. I think the album was done, but not out yet.. yeah. I have no sense of time.. Anyway, I was staying at my cousins house just wasting time honestly and Gabriel’s ig came up and for some reason I was just manic enough, decided to write him. The most embarrassing, oversharing DM in the world to dear Gabriel- who was a complete verified stranger.
To date this dm probably is one of the bravest and best fucking things I’ve ever done in my life.
I quickly deleted the thread so I wouldn’t have to see my desperate dm. But I remember it was something pretty heartbreaking a real cry for help.. Something like..
“Hey, doubt you’ll respond.. I don’t think I can make music by myself or I’m not ready to try again.. Im worried Ive lost my ability to create with anyone else.” I don’t know what to do. I’m worried I’ve lost myself and my confidence, my North Star. why am I even making music anymore? Im angry at my ex for taking that away. I’m in new York and don’t want to see my friends. But I know its my fault for letting things get so out of hand but.. I dunno. I forgot how to be an artist. Anyway, I know you won’t respond you don’t even know who I am but your music inspires me and I’d love your thoughts on my music someday” fairy emoticon.. Niia” then I sent him my link to some of my album tracks and my cell number. I assure you it was far worse than what I just wrote.
I forgot I had sent the dm immediately and went on with my life. A few days later I got a call from an unknown number and it was Gabriel..
I didn’t even know what to do with my hands during the call..I was surprised how nervous I was on the phone. It was as if Prince was calling me from the afterlife or some shit. Gabriel was apparently upstate doing drugs with friends from what I remember finishing his album. His voice was smooth but had a cool little rasp to it. He would change his pitch based on how excited he would get easily so I could tell when and where he enjoyed our conversation most he has crazy vocal and speaking range. HE can go very high falsetto, and then get those low notes too! Range Daddy! He was very melodic and you just knew by hearing his voice he was an artist in some way if you had never met him. To quote CB I couldn’t help but wonder.. “ this guy seems so normal and nice.” He’s going through my existential questions and answering them from what seemed like a heartfelt place. He seemed very Zen and mentioned the book the Artists Way and I rolled my eyes on the other line.
He said he’d be back in the city and we should link up. I of course said yes for sure.. click. Well that was bizarre I thought to myself.
Thinking I’ll never hear from him again.
Gabriel texted me casually over the next week checking in with me asking to link up, have me come to his studio etc. And every time I found an excuse or a reason I couldn’t go. My manager thought getting a track from him could be huge “cool guy points”, but I wasn’t even thinking about that I only told her to convince her I was doing something with my time in nyc.
By nature I’m a true introvert. Looking back I believe I didn’t want to see him because I couldn’t face him. Stranger or no Stranger he knew my vulnerable thoughts, my artist struggles and fears. It made me feel so fucking uncomfortable, ashamed, mortified, lame, insecure all the things..
So more days passed and he finally said he was flying to Colombia to finish his album and if I wanted to come I could come stay at his ranch in my own room and just chill.. He would have to work on his album but if he had any free time and I was up for it we could work on some music but I could also come to just detach, a retreat he suggested. I laughed.. I said okay, thats nice I’ll think about it knowing ill be quite able to come up with a reason I wont fly to Colombia alone to meet a strange man. Yeah, you’re not gonna do it. He joked. Na, Im gonna think about it.. I wanna make it work.. I liked to use as an excuse.. yeah yeah yeah.. okay this is going to be so long if I don’t move the story along..
SO in my hotel now I was telling my boyfriend I was going to fly to Bogota and transfer to Pereira to meet this male artist Gabriel to stay for I don’t know how long and maybe we’ll work on music and I remember saying I need to do this for me. To see if I even can. I don’t know if he trusted me, or understood what I was saying or maybe he didn’t care but he said okay.. be safe and call me when you land.
I flew to bogota waited 3 hours and transferred to a small plane to Pereira. I don’t know much about Colombia, and when we landed it was dark and I was afraid I had made a very bad decision. Gabriel was not waiting for me when I got there.. hm… The small barely there airport started turning the lights off.. okay, stay calm… You’re bad ass you got this.. Sure enough Gabriel popped up. A giant hug a cigarette and we were off.
WE drove down dirt roads with no lights on the way to his fathers ranch, police stopped us to check our passports and bags all very exciting and terrifying but normal things. We finally arrive at his fathers ranch and its beautiful, simple, there are bugs, a little white dog in the main house where his father lives.. he cut me up some fruit shows me to my room and says tomorrow get up and do your pages.
He was referring to the “artists ways method (which id failed multiple times) where you wake up and just write your thoughts. For 10 pages or 30 mins I don’ t remember. I said ok.. I didn’t have a mattress because he had taken the two to use in the studio to sound proof the walls..
I fell fast asleep..
I woke up to Colombian music, I wish I could remember every detail because it was truly sensory overload. My demeanor was shy and withdrawn. I must have seemed like I had escaped from a woman etiquette prison. I was so uptight compared to Gabriel. I was apologizing, nervous, I was hurt and down. He could see that and was friend and teacher. He made me sit outside and do my pages. He took me on hikes, taught me about some of the history of Colombia, his family. Shared his new music with me. His process.. let me into his world. Talked about the women he loved, it was out of a dream. He never judged me, made me feel like I had nothing to offer, he made me feel more confident, beautiful but in the most respectful way. He was close with his mother who passed and his sister and you could tell. He had a good soul.
We went to the local tattoo shop and I met some of his crazy ass friends, I watched them all salsa while I stood like a piece of marble against the bathroom door too afraid to dance. I ate the most delicious food, sat for hours on his “studio” floor while he played me music and created some chords for me to write to.. You don’t have to write now.. when you’re ready..
He would have me submit my pages to him so I wouldn’t judge them.. I’m sure he read some of my fucked up thoughts but he never mentioned them.
As the days passed I started to feel more in tune with myself. I was writing and reading.. I realized how fearful I was and how tired I had become from making art. Both making music and listening to music requires an enormous amount investment of energy. In the book Art & fear it says “in moments of weakness, the myth of the extraordinary provides the excuse for an artist to quit while trying to mark art, and the excuse for a viewer to quit trying to understand it. Meanwhile artist who do continue often become perilously self- conscious about their art making.”
Gabriel was saving me. We made music, we did drugs, we did nothing sometimes, we listened to frogs, I’ve never felt more like an adult and child at the same time. I felt renewed as an artist if not stronger. Taking in a new environment being open to challenge myself and listen to an artist I respected and ultimately trusted has turned me into an even better artist now..
Ive always had to fight growing up in a strict all girl catholic school environment, an Italian mom who never wanted her daughter to be “too artsy” too hippy” be creative but stay inside the lines.. I could be werid just not too weird. IT was hard. Also not really wanted to become an artist to obtain fame or attention throws more curve balls at especially female artists these days.
I am not a practicing Catholic but I find in ironic “Gabriel, in the Abrahamic religions, is an archangel. In the Hebrew Bible, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his visions. Um… also he was sent by God to Mary to tell her and convince her she was having the son of god.. he’s basically the “Chief Angel” To help you believe..
Luckily he didn’t have to convince me I was having the lords baby… just that I needed to find myself again and believe..
Seem pretty hollywood movie when I think about it now.. so I guess I’ll leave you with 3 last things..
• Yes the cocaine was insane.
• 2 Tyler Posey with a shaved head would play Gabriel in the Hollywood version and Id be played by a young OC mischa barton. thats the PG version. Rated R version.. .hm…Diego Luna with a shaved head and I dunno who’d play me..
Someone who looks like Bella Hadid and Amanda Pete lol
• An excerpt from the book the Artist Way.
“In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me.”
― Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
We have met the enemy and he is us