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Under Her Spell
Steve Carter | Photo: Nick Prendergast | January 2, 2013
Gabrielle LaPlante, musician and magician’s assistant, prepares to debut some Hocus Pocus of her own.
When avant-alt-popster Gabrielle LaPlante moved to Dallas four years ago, she knew it was time to pursue her music career in earnest. “The first thing I did was get in touch with producer Salim Nourallah,” she recalled recently over coffee at the Sixth Floor Museum Café. “I called him, and the rest is history.” While history is still in the making, that reach-out marked the beginning of a stimulating, fertile musical collaboration that’s yielded LaPlante’s singular debut and is about to see the release of her sophomore album, Hocus Pocus. The award-winning Nourallah has proved to be the perfect helmsman for realizing LaPlante’s musical vision, and the results are remarkable. “He and I have similar influences and a lot of common ground,” 30-year-old LaPlante notes. “He’s magic.”
Magic? Hocus pocus? LaPlante should know what she’s talking about. For the past six years, she’s been assistant/partner to acclaimed magician Chase Curtis. She met the necromantic master when she lived in Los Angeles and began a life of 90-minute stage shows “getting in a lot of boxes and getting sliced and diced,” she laughs. LaPlante’s musical life goes way back to her childhood in Dauphin, Pa. Trained early on violin and piano, she’s written songs since grade school and added guitar to her arsenal while in college. Her self-titled debut album is an atmospheric smorgasbord that evokes the ’60s and ’70s, with a lo-fi sonic palette composed of tremolo guitars, Farfisa organ, Mellotron, whiffs of everything from bossa nova to Motown grooves and even hints of Martin Denny Exotica. Vocally, Gabrielle’s something of an underachiever, opting for intimacy over bravura, in the vein of Nancy Sinatra, Carla Bruni, Chrissy Hynde and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
On Hocus Pocus, scheduled for release in early February, the cinematic flourishes of the debut outing are largely absent, but the production values are more dance- and vibe-oriented. Psychedelia is again in evidence, with fuzz bass, sitar, cavernous reverb and tremolo electrics making appearances, and it’s all unmistakably Gabrielle LaPlante. “My modus operandi would still be ‘Nico goes to Laurel Canyon,’” she admits. “If you marry those two sounds, you’ve got what I love.” In the title song she reveals, “My life needs some focus/a little less hocus pocus/a little more forward motion/before I just stand still.” This album just may be the one to make that wish come true.