Gabriel Garzón-Montano on Twisted Cumbia, Touring with Lenny Kravitz, and Recording Offline

Originally from the NYC area with roots in Colombia, Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s debut album Bishouné: Alma del Huila is the sort of recording with the capacity to catch the ear of singer-songwriter crowd, neo-soul fans, and analog gear nerds alike. The new year brings an appropriate time for the artist to refresh, with a number of shows in the works and a new album in production over the course of the next few months.

Garzón-Montano has recently returned home from a fall tour across Europe with Lenny Kravitz, after the artist checked him out at one of his solo shows and later called to ask him to join up on the road.

The R&B experimentalist returns to home turf this Saturday, January 10th at at Blue Note in Manhattan– grab your tickets to see him live in action here.


How’s tour treating you so far? What’s some highlights from the tour so far?
The tour has been incredible. Lenny has treated me like a little brother and I’ve learned a great deal from him and everyone working on the tour. Highlights? The guy singing “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night” in the front row at Wembley was amazing. I’ve had some of the greatest moments of my life on stage while on this tour. Playing this music for all these people and feeling their energy is unlike anything I’ve experienced.

How’s the adjustment been, transitioning from playing small New York clubs to arena-level spaces?
I’ve gone from sitting at the keyboard to standing and interacting more with the audience for one. It has been terrifying and thrilling.

What’s behind the title of your EP, Bishouné: Alma Del Huila?
Bishouné is my own phonetic spelling of a nickname my mother had for me as a child and all through my life. Alma del Huila is another name for the Colombian municipality of Garzón, which is my fathers last name.

Going back to your roots, how did you get into music?
My mother was a singer and played a handful of instruments. I’ve been singing and playing music my whole life. I started violin at age 6, then quit because ROCK AND ROLL and I bought a drumset at age 12 with my life savings of $720. Then guitar and singing, then keys and bass.

I read that you had a funk band called Mokaad– why did you decide to go back to writing and recording by yourself?
Henry Hirsch told me I should do a record with him where I was playing everything and I got my shit together and did it the best I could.

What are some musical inspirations that you pay tribute to with your style?
Prince, Sly, Stevie, The Beatles, Bach, Debussy, Dilla, Weezy. Totó la Momposina and Petrona Martinez are my favorite Colombian singers. “Me Alone” is a twisted cumbia of sorts.

As a multi-instrumentalist working mostly with analog gear, how do you break down the songwriting process?
I sit at the keyboard and write songs. When I want to demo them I record into Logic or make beats with Maschine etc. When I record I put the songs down instrument by instrument to tape. Then I do vocals.

Why is the return to recording offline important for you?
It’s the way the music I listen to was made. When something is no good you do it over until you get it. That’s a beautiful thing. It has made me a better musician.

Now that the record is out, what are some of the projects you’ve been working on?
I’ve been writing a new record that I’ll be recording in the next couple months. I’ve been working on music with a bunch of my favorite people. Very much looking forward to sharing.