Josiah Gabriel is the truth. Few artists possess the talent to converge technical expertise with mystical splendor. His music reaches into perilous depths where shadows lurk and light disappears. People dance around his makeshift altar, featuring a traditional set up that appears underwhelming. Yet, what he can do with so little makes his sound larger than life.
Earlier this year, I witnessed Gabriel DJing for the equally mesmerizing rapper Perseph One. Although she seized the stage with near-perfect precision, behind her Gabriel was dancing in ecstasy to the beats he had carefully arranged for the performance. Eyes closed, head tilted upward, his exchanged energies with Perseph unified the audience.
The past five years on the grind has come to this, Gabriel's spot in this city's one-of-a-kind new winter festival, Day For Night. Revisiting this year alone with him feels exhausting. Working with Chase Demaster on Kult Dizney, who performed at Free Press Summer Fest this year, DJing and collaborating on beats with Perseph One and nurturing his inner DJ with his unique project, MKE, Gabriel spent little time on the project that established himself as one of this city's most sought-after producers.
Gabriel, nee Noah Clough, recently reflected on his successful and dizzying — and overwhelming — year.
"[W]ith the success of Josiah Gabriel over the last few years, I felt I was being pulled in different directions," he says. "Different projects and different collaborations. Now that I’ve been doing this for as long as I have, I felt my next step would be to get management, and a team of people to help me turn my art into something that all people can get their hands on."
Having management fills the widening void Gabriel needs. It provides the necessary focus in order to take the next step in his career.
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"Blake [Hunter] has only been signed on for a month and I can already see the difference in the way my career is being handled and the atmosphere is conducive to making the best music possible," remarks Gabriel. "My next album, I’m on vocals and planning something that really explains me more as person and artist."
Shadows are an integral part to Gabriel's identity, which makes him a perfect fit for Houston's most curated festival. He has DJed gallery openings and art installations in the past because his music creates colors and shapes. "Hittin' the Wall," a track with layers of distorted melodies, searing trap hats and beats that drown themselves within the track, hyper-visualizes creative defeat while overcoming the constraints making something out of nothing. Being part of Day for Night permits him to complement the interactive installation.
"Houston is a thriving city, the art scene and the music scene," muses Gabriel. "Most people deny this, but we are making huge strides in this city. Day for Night being here in Houston is an example of that. When they asked me I jumped at the chance to be a part of something that is truly based around the art and music scene. It’s going to be a great festival and great opportunity for everyone on it."
His plans for this weekend's performance are kept tightly under wraps; however, Gabriel does plan to perform selections from his EPs as well as some incredibly turned-up tracks. In spite of the secrecy, his moment this weekend is a culmination of years of hard work.
"I feel like a lot of things are coming together," he reflects. "I’m hoping to keep it going on be on to new things. I don’t want to feel like I’ve made progress, because it’s still not enough for me as an artist."
Humility is Gabriel's strength. It keeps him hungry. Always busy, he can already see other projects on the horizon, including the highly anticipated Running Shoes with partner Jon McCartney.
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"[Running Shoes] is something I am very excited about it," Gabriel says. "It’s dark techno, something different. We plan to release something early next year, and plan on performing all over in only club settings. Our first performance will be at a secret warehouse party called the Void. Be on the look out for the flyer. [It's] gonna be something very fresh, but also brings a different feel to Houston and all of Texas. I’m really excited about that."
Next year already looks like a potential banner year for Gabriel. In addition to his Running Shoes project, he finally plans to release his first full-length album under the Josiah Gabriel moniker. His plans, although ambitious, are consistent with everything about his musical pursuits.
"I’m hoping that all this hard work will translate into something that can change my career as well as hoping change the Houston and Texas music scene," he says.
Go see Josiah Gabriel's Day for Night set is 12:45 p.m. this Sunday, December 20, on the Green Stage. For more information about the festival, see dayfornight.io.