For some people, it’s the ultimate dream to be able to pursue what you love full-time. This seems to be the case for a budding singer-songwriter who gets to release songs–something he genuinely enjoys doing–while pursuing a college degree. Gabe Watkins is a Thai-Australian recording artist who also happens to be a full-time college student. In October 2021, Gabe came out with “Blue Skies,” a song he wrote and produced and is relatable for virtually any Gen Z who’s ever fallen in love. Read on to learn more about how he got started in music and what his experience is like as a student-artist.
He’s always been into music, but only decided to pursue it seriously years later.
As the popular saying goes, you’ll figure out what’s meant for you all in good time. For Gabe, music has been present in his life ever since he was young, but it was only very recently when he realized that it was what he wanted to pursue for the rest of his life. “I’ve always loved music since I was a kid and my dad would play the guitar and write his own songs and things like that,” Gabe shares. “But I didn’t really take music or songwriting seriously until like two years ago, right before I started my gap year. I was in a band in high school and we got asked if we wanted to write a song and that was the first time I’ve ever written a song, and I just fell in love with it from there.”
He took a gap year before university, and it ended up being a significant experience.
Gap years are often looked down upon because it’s widely believed that it takes away from the years you could have been spending to pursue your studies. That said, gap years can actually do wonders for a student’s outlook in life. It’s a period students often take advantage of to explore various aspects in life they wouldn’t have experienced otherwise if they didn’t stop to look.
For Gabe, the gap year he took ended up being significant to his journey as a musician. He shares, “I was kinda thinking of maybe doing a gap year anyway but when COVID-19 hit, I think that just definitely pushed me towards doing a gap year. And honestly, it was really good for me. Obviously, lockdown wasn’t the greatest, but the whole year really allowed me to learn more about music and songwriting. I wrote so many songs in that year. Overall, it was a really great experience.”
He chose a college course that would help him improve his craft.
Gabe is now a student attending university in London, and now that he has a more concrete idea of what he wants to do in life, he chose to focus on music engineering to really align his education with his goals. “I want to work in music in the future, wherever that is. I think this engineering side of things, it really helps in my songwriting. If I’m able to produce everything by myself I think that’s a really big thing,” he explains.
On top of that, his major also provides the most basic, but essential, support that's actually helpful for aspiring musicians like Gabe. “I have access to studios at the university and practice rooms and things like that,” he adds.
Like any student in the pandemic, Gabe has his fair share of struggles. On the bright side, the experience of being in London despite the hybrid setup is one he appreciates a lot. He recounts, “I started my first year last year and obviously it’s been a little tough because of the pandemic situation going on. It’s been 50 percent online and 50 percent on campus so that’s difficult. But I live in London at the moment and I’m really enjoying that aspect. Being in London for university is really cool, I’m really having a good time.”
In 2022, Gabe is hopeful he gets to continue doing what loves.
For Gabe, making music is more than just a potential career, it's also an important part of his life. "Writing songs for me is like therapy. It really helps if I’m going through anything, I just sit down on the piano and come up with something," he shares.
Since starting, Gabe has gone through two music releases—"Blue Skies" and "One Summer"—both of which received positive response from music enthusiasts all over the globe.
In 2022, he just hopes to be able to continue doing what he's already started. He shares, “My goals are just to keep writing and releasing songs and hope that people can connect with them and really like them. And hopefully, I’m able to play some shows this year, if not, next year."
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