Photo: Tiger Tiger
Gavin Turek is that rare talent that can walk, okay shimmy, across the thin line between “imitation” and “influenced by.” The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-actress has been called everything from “dancing disco queen” to the “next Donna Summer”, but for Turek herself the best description is simply one word.
“I’m a performer,” says Turek over the phone in a cheery voice that sounds like she’s always smiling. “Ever since I was a little girl I was always attracted to artists like Prince, Donna Summer, and Dianna Ross. They all had confidence, charisma, and beauty in the way they connected with the audience when they performed. Of course the music was great, but for me it was almost secondary.”
Turek has been dubbed an “artist to watch” on the LA music scene for a couple years now, having toured with Mayer Hawthorne and recorded a joint album with DJ/producer Tokimonsta, but now she’s stepping out as a solo artist with her new EP, Good Look For You (coming out Feb. 17th). Check out her new single, “The Distance” below.
Much like Childish Gambino did with cosmic funk on Awaken, My Love!, Turek captures the roller disco groove of the ’70s and ’80s and then flips the script, giving them modern day harmonies and relatable themes with her sultry voice and “open book” songwriting.
“Disco gets a bad rap and I don’t know why,” says Turek when asked about her disco influences. “My parents listened to it in my house growing up so I just know it as being happy music that you enjoy with your friends and family. It’s infectious and makes you want to dance!”
“Dance.” The word comes up numerous times in a 25-minute chat that stretches from her childhood in the Valley; to going to a performing arts high school in downtown, “it was like Fame, the more weird you were the more popular you were,” where she trained as a dancer; to spending a year abroad in college, where she went to Ghana to study (what else) dance.
The globe-trotting trip not only re-affirmed her decision to chase her dreams, but also inspired her to incorporate the life-changing experience into her thrilling live show. Turek performs in multi-colored fringe dresses, which were influenced by Bamaya dancers in Ghana. The handmade outfits have become a Turek trademark as much as her vintage Pam Grier afro and push-pop hips, forming a holy trinity of shimmy when she performs.
“Off-stage I’m kind of self-conscious,” admits Turek, “but when I get on-stage I try to get out of my own head. I love looking into the crowd and making eye contact with people who aren’t dancing. It becomes like a challenge. I want them to engage, have fun and just dance.”