Photo by Jordy Asher, taken after writing the interview in Montreal.
“Thanks again so much, this is the first time I’m opening up about any of this…”
Who is Gambles & how did this project come about?
Gambles is me, Matthew Daniel Siskin. This is all very new, mostly written from august 2012 to now. There’s a story in there that I still go back and forth about, if I want people to know, but the songs are the story, so I think it’s fine to give you a slight look in since anyone that knows me, or her, or anyone close, will know exactly what it is I’m writing about.
A few years back someone very close to me became pregnant with our child, this changed our world quickly. We got engaged, told our families, every single day things built – a few weeks later we lost our child, stayed engaged, all I can say is she was perfect, the kind of person people search for – and we tried our best to love each other. We were married in December 2010 in California, but September 2011 I was living alone in my studio where I had been doing my design work. It was a brutal time – I always thought I was a good person but I learned quickly that good people can do such awful things, it was very destructive and complicated and difficult to talk about but I’m doing this because the songs are a testament to her, and us, and our families, and all the things that I meant. I meant what I did, and I think that was lost on everyone when I left, and how I left. So, these songs are my way of putting it down, I think we deserve that. I am also insane for saying all of this, self centered, ego maniacal, but I mean well – I do. I always loved her and the songs say all of this, even the dark ones. She’s also engaged to be married now to someone else (I found out the night I finished my record a few weeks ago), so I like to think that somehow through this we both ended up standing in an honest place where we can be happy as people. But I can’t speak for anyone but myself. Even though I just did. She’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known, and I was lucky she loved me once.
The name Gambles seems to complement your sound and much of the lyrical content within your records, how did the name occur?
The name came randomly, before I was looking for one. My friend Sophie and I were driving back from Atlantic City. The name had nothing to do with gambling, it was just sort of around us. She called me Gambles, and I kept it in my pocket. It just felt right, and has felt right since.
How would you describe your sound in an adjective filled sentence?
A pushy overflow of sleepy nails.
We first heard your music late last year with the stunning “Trust”, accompanied by a brilliant video directed by Grant Singer. It seemed to come out of nowhere, we got so excited we listed it in our Top for 2012. What was the inspiration behind the track? Was there any decision behind making it the first thing you released?
I guess the inspiration behind most of these songs relates to the story above. I was stoned, with my best friend, feeling awful, and and he set up a mic and I started singing. Trust was the first one I sang, it came fast sort of freestyle, I didn’t have the song or words before I started singing – which kind of turned me on to a new process – I did a few others that night, two of which are also on my record – although I re-recorded them. But Trust, the way it is, that take, is the first and only time I ever recorded it. It’s the song in the video, its sort of the score in my head for all of this stuff. So I guess thats why it was the obvious first release, it was also the only song that felt “finished” at that time. for the album, I sang everything in the order of the record, everything except for trust – that one will always just be what it is. I don’t think I could replicate that performance If I tried (I’ve tried).
You’ve recently followed up the initial release with “Safe Side.” What else can we expect release wise? Is there an album in the pipeline?
I have a full album finished – about 12 songs long – although I’ve written some new ones that might find their way onto it. It should see the light of day sooner than later, sort of working all of those details out as we speak.
“Sex,drugs,and Rock n Roll” has long been a cliche within music,what three words would you use to describe your music career so far?
Fuck, Direct, Guts.
Are there any new bands that are inspiring you at the moment,or any that have been the soundtrack to your days as a growing musician?
I can’t stop listening to Angel Olsen and Marissa Nadler – maybe because I’m lonely and these strong female characters in music make it feel like I have a family. I wrote a song called Angel on my record that is sort of for Angel Olsen as a character, not as a person. I don’t know her, but I heard her song “Acrobat” and a song came from it while I was staying in New Orleans.
Your lyrics seem to have a poetic edge, appearing very raw and natural. You’ve posted your lyrics online which is something we love to see and you’ve started a google poems project based on certain phrases creating poems in google search. How has that side of things been an influence on your songwriting?
I think I’m a process addict, I love seeing things inside out – so I like to show people the same. I think everything is in the words, the music for me is just the bed or table for them to stand on or dance with so seeing the words as visuals help me, and sort of comfort me. As far as the google poems project I started, it’s funny – I think it made me get even more direct with my writing, sort of listing things as google might, but each line has to be loaded and tight and cut pretty clear. Its all good practice.
You’ve recently put out a video on youtube for a song you had written in 20 minutes on a road trip. Is that typical of how you’ve gone about your writing process?
Yes – I do not think too long on things, if I do, then I leave it and move on. Sometimes I come back to it, sometimes I don’t. If something feels right, I’ll finish it, and start singing it. That song you mention is called “Far From Your Arms” – and I’m actually going to sing it tonight for the first time in Montreal (I’m writing this from the back of our sprinter named “Mercy”. The song was written a few days ago driving from MN to Chicago.
You’re currently on a string of dates supporting The Maccabees. How’s it all been so far? Are there any plans to tour following that?
I think I’d like to tour all year. This feels like the first time I’ve truly toured. It’s a two man tour (for Gambles) – my good friend Jordy Asher (of the band Blonds) is tour managing, doing my sound, all in all, just making sure I feel OK. Being my dear friend, keeping me happy. Making sure I don’t go insane. The shows have been great, everyone I’ve met so far has been beautiful and sincere and I love all this real life sharing. On top of that, The Maccabees are very old friends of mine, so I get to hang with my brothers every night and that is a complete dream.
Finally, if you could create anything, for personal or worldwide benefit, what would it be and why?
I’d like to dig a place where nobody has to really worry about much except for being in love. I don’t think I need to tell you why.
– Gambles Tour Dates –
Thu 14th Feb 2013 – New York, NY, USA Bowery Ballroom w/ The Maccabees
Fri 15th Feb 2013 – Boston, MA, USA The Sinclair w/ The Maccabees
Sat 16th Feb 2013 – New York, NY, USA Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ The Maccabees
Sun 17th Feb 2013 – Washington DC, USA Black Cat w/ The Maccabees
Tue 19th Feb 2013 – Atlanta, GA, USA Masquerade w/ The Maccabees
Thu 21st Feb 2013 – Dallas, TX, USA Trees w/ The Maccabees
Fri 22nd Feb 2013 – Houston, TX, USA Fitzgerald’s w/ The Maccabees
Sat 23rd Feb 2013 – Austin, TX, USA The Parish w/ The Maccabees
Wed 6th Mar 2013 – Swedish American Hall – San Francisco CA w/BOY
Fri 8th Mar 2013 – Troubadour – Los Angeles CA w/BOY
Sat 9th Mar 2013 – The Loft – San Diego CA w/BOY