Snow Angel is funk/pop group led by electric sitar player and lead vocalist Gabby La La.
After first picking up her instrument of choice at age 13, La La studied the Ali Akbar College of Indian Music and The California Institute of the Arts before launching a musical career that has included solo recordings and touring and collaborating with Weapon of Choice and Primus bassist Les Claypool in Les Claypool’s Fancy Band. With Snow Angel, she aimed to create a group centered on fun, good vibes, and bringing people together. “I wanted to make music that felt inclusive, so that when people hear a song, they would feel like it was their song and that it was OK to sing along. It is my intention to get people to participate and sing as a means of connecting with their greater community.”
The California-based group quickly grew into a six-piece band that along with La La is comprised of bassist Melissa Leigh Hubbell, guitarist Cadence Myles, keyboardist Alison Niedbalski, drummer Emily Studden, and Sarah Melekova on Omnichord. The women—who are all also involved in various outside creative projects—share vocal duties. “When I am singing with the girls, I often find myself looking around and feeling supremely uplifted and proud to witness what I see as love and friendship expressed through active music,” says La La. “I see how much each individual has grown and how healing music really is. There are countless times when I, or one of the girls, have been at an emotionally or physically low place, but when we play music together we can forget about those problems. I think this is a huge part of why music is so important to all people.”
Following the release of their “So Sick, So Cool” 7” in 2015, Snow Angel’s self-titled debut full-length will come out later this fall. The album highlights the band’s sense of joy, inclusivity, and good nature through a mix of upbeat pop, dance, psychedelic, and funk with gang-style vocals that, among other subjects, champion self-empowerment, confidence, and friendship between women. “Bullying, cliques, mean girls, we’ve all experienced it from one, if not both, sides of the story,” says La La. “I feel like there is even more of this negative behavior today than when I was growing up. I feel compelled to do something about it. Even though I’m definitely guilty of being competitive and jealous at times, I want more than anything to overcome it.”
Through their music, Snow Angel attempts to counter negativity and stereotypes about female relationships and lead by example. “When we appear together we show how powerful, supportive, and fabulous a group of girls can be, and it’s not just an act. We’re friends and we care about one another. It shows in everything we do- whether we’re working out the kinks of a new song, helping each other get ready for the show, or holding someone’s hair back when they’re barfing. These relationships between women are vital to our survival and wellbeing,” La La says.
“Historically, women have not been dealt an easy hand. We have had to work harder and be better at everything we do, just to have a level playing field. If we as a gender—and I include anyone who identifies as a woman—don’t work together, we will never get ahead. Men have dominated the charts and sound space forever. If we don’t support one another, women in music will continue to be a novelty. I’m not asking for more Lilith Fair (though I do love an all woman show) but I do want balance. To create that balance, it is even more important to play together and to feature the talent and musical skill that we have always had.”
The band’s camaraderie comes to the forefront in their video for the single, “Group Hug.” Directed by Mark Kohr, a longtime collaborator of La La’s who has previously worked on projects with No Doubt, Green Day, Alanis Morrisette, and Shakira, filming took place on Pinole Pier in Richmond, California. ”We got there at sunrise and had to walk like a mile in, carrying all of our stuff. It was beautiful and freezing—that’s why we’re all wearing gloves—but it ended up being quite a fashion statement,” La La says. In addition to the music and the fashion, the band’s dance moves, created by choreographer Danielle Rowe, add to the celebratory vibe.
“We wanted to draw upon folk and circle dances that would be cool, easy, and inclusive of our audience. I always strive to emphasize that we are a group of (exceptional) girls—just like you and your friends—who work hard and play hard,” she says.