Gigi Rowe, a pop singer based out of Miami, has already made her mark with hit songs like 'Got That' and 'Run The Night.' Featured on the past two editions of the acclaimed video game Just Dance, she has grown an international audience that identifies with her infectious, powerful personality. Before the lipstick, glam, and classic pop-inspired sound, she picked up the guitar as a teen from Jersey.
“I’m in the waiting room and I hear Don on the phone with Mick Jagger,” says Gigi. “He was warming him up for a concert in Belgium.” Gigi Rowe, a pop singer based in Miami, worked with Lady Gaga’s vocal coach, Don Lawrence, in NYC. Before a lesson, she heard Lawrence on the piano practicing pre-show vocal exercises with the Rolling Stones icon. “When I was with Don it became a cathartic experience. He’s worked with so many people I respect,” says Gigi. “You’re on cloud 9 when you discover something new after a session.”
Trekking into the city for vocal lessons, Gigi first started singing across the bridge as a kid from New Jersey. Her Dad bought her a guitar as a way for her to practice at home. “He booked me a lesson on Valentine’s Day and I had an electric guitar waiting for me in the house,” she says. Even though she now gravitates towards pop, Gigi sticks to her singer-songwriter roots. She still plays the guitar and is learning the piano as a songwriting tool. Treating her voice as an instrument, she integrates her natural sound into the pop style. “I fell in love with the 80s, 90’s movements with Cyndi Lauper and Madonna,” she says. “I craved the larger than life production values and the left of center pop universe each of them created.”
Inspired by other worlds, Gigi created a backstory for herself as an artist. “I wanted to embody a persona that was timeless and ageless,” she says. “Gigi has a father from the future and a mother from the past, although many speculate she traveled in time from the 80’s.” Neon clothing, vibrant streaks of makeup, and harlequin wigs dress the unearthly alter ego of Gigi Rowe. Although she embraces her persona on stage, Gigi remains down to earth, especially around those close to her. “I always want to stay in the moment and approachable,” she says.
A self-proclaimed “glamorous runaway,” Gigi does not shy away from her dual nature. “The term ‘glamorous runaway’ is polarizing, but it fuels me creatively,” she says. The glamour of a popstar combined with the restlessness of a runaway sparks an inner conflict most can relate to. “Conflicting ideas are a part of me like anyone else,” she says. “I’m inspired by Old World Hollywood, the bold-color lipstick, a romanticized view of life. But at the same time I just want to escape it all.” A few years back, Gigi heard Bruce Springsteen deliver a keynote speech at the music festival South by Southwest. “He told us that at any moment you should have two conflicting ideas in your head,” she says, “and if it doesn’t drive you crazy, it’ll make you great.” Since then, she’s channeled her own opposing ideas to drive her artistry. She looks to other powerful artists, like Lana Del Rey, who embrace clashing concepts. Calling herself the “ganga Nancy Sinatra,” Lana Del Rey embodies a strong, hairsprayed, Hollywood dark-pop swagger that Gigi admires. “When the song ‘Video Game’ came out, along with her striking visuals, it made a lasting impression,” she says.
Those inspirations, combined with her own style, inspired the futuristic, colorful vibes of Gigi Rowe’s personality. Her look changes frequently. “I stop people all the time because I’m inspired by something they’re wearing,” she says. “Certain fashion pieces can change my day.”
Gigi’s day changed undeniably when she found out her song ‘Run The Night’ would be featured on one of the most popular video games in the world, Just Dance. Ill Factor, Gigi’s producer, was working on a song that Ubisoft, the creators of Just Dance, wanted to feature in the game. Ill Factor asked Gigi to come into the studio and cut vocals over the track. “A few days later, Ill Factor called me in LA and said Ubisoft had chosen the song for Just Dance,” she says. Gigi would be featured alongside other artists like Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and Fifth Harmony. “I felt like I was finally in my lane,” she says.
Véronique Halbrey, who was then the Creative Director of Just Dance, invited Gigi to Paris to watch the recreation of her song for the video game. In a motion capture shoot, a professional dancer performed as Gigi to design the moves people would dance to in the game. “I didn’t know what was going to happen until I arrived at the shoot,” she says. “The choreography added on a whole new meaning and life to ‘Run The Night.’”
After the release of Just Dance, Gigi was invited to perform at Rock in Rio Brazil, one of the largest music festivals on the planet. 2017 marked the first time the festival would be held on the Olympic grounds in Rio. She performed ‘Got That’ and ‘Run The Night’ on Brazilian TV. “I pulled up random people on stage, of all ages, who knew the exact choreography and words to my songs,” says Gigi. “It’s amazing experiencing that level of connection with fans.”
Impressed by the response to ‘Run The Night,’ Ubisoft chose another one of Gigi’s songs, ‘Got That,’ to be featured on Just Dance 2018. Release last month, the music video has already racked up over one million views. “The video for ‘Got That’ is a celebration of the success of the song and the game,” says Gigi, “and a visual of my love affair with colors.” Fans across the world reach out after they discover her music on Just Dance. She wanted the video to match the playful vibe her fans crave. “The visual aspect of my music is an extension of the universe I want to create,” she says.
Gigi’s debut EP, Stardust Motel, builds upon that universe. She saw an exit sign for “Stardust Motel” while driving from Miami to NYC. Wanting to pull listeners into the 80’s Miami vibe, she knew the name would fit the EP perfectly.
Working alongside Ill Factor, Gigi constructed each track on Stardust Motel from the beginning. “I love writing with a producer who’s also a multi-instrumentalist,” she says. “You can hear the record from the moment you start building.” Gigi and Ill Factor maintain a rare, effortless flow in the studio. As a mentor, Ill Factor adapts to her style and expands upon it. “It’s fun when you meet someone you connect with creatively,” says Gigi.
Immersed in the creative world since her teenage years, Gigi maintains the same drive from her earliest studio sessions. “I loved singing over beats in the studio,” she says. “Feeling the volume and intensity of those tracks, I wanted to hear my voice in different ways.” Now a popstar on the rise, Gigi still craves the same intensity. “There’s nothing like when you’re creating something, feeling so in it and of it,” she says. “Adrenaline pumps, and I love the rush when I’m working on something fresh that I’m excited about.”