There’s something about finding a home that brings out the best in people. Maybe it’s the comfort of people you trust or the feeling that you can, finally, be yourself. Whatever it is, the effects are undeniable. A home is good for everyone.
Dec. 1 marked the anniversary of the day Gabriel Fulvimar, the man behind Gap Dream, found a home at Burger Records, the label of Ty Segall and King Tuff. And no, we’re not talking about the fact that, after months of working together remotely, they invited him to move from his home in Cleveland and live in their headquarters in Fullerton, California—although that is pretty remarkable. What we’re talking about is what a gesture like that means. For Fulvimar, it meant a cross-country move; an end to working in the service industry; an opportunity to invest in his music and, most importantly, a community of friends, collaborators and patrons to enable him.
“Now I’m doing music full-time, after six years of bartending and three years as a busboy,” Fulvimar says. “It’s weird that I won’t have to be doing that stuff for the foreseeable future. You do miss it.”
But as anyone who’s ever felt nostalgic for the days of family meals and shift beers knows, missing the service industry life is often more fun than living it. Back in the days when he was clearing other people’s dishes, Fulvimar was hard at work recording his music at home, and one day he decided he’d start submitting his tapes to Burger, his favorite label. Much to his surprise, founder Sean Bohrman liked what he heard and asked for more. Thus began the friendship and collaboration that led to the label inviting Fulvimar to hike it out West and live in their storage space as he made his way. Day-to-day life there is a marked improvement upon the restaurant life. For instance, take his description of a normal day at the office:
“You feel like a character on The Facts of Life. There are so many strong personalities. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. You feel like a Saturday morning cartoon. I love living there. Yesterday, we had to listen to all the demos [the label received from aspiring artists]. That’s our project, going in shifts. We had chili. We have a good time and get a lot of work done. I’ve never been able to love what I do before.”
That love colors Fulvimar’s output. Take the video for “Chill Spot,” the lead single from Gap Dream’s sophomore LP, Shine Your Light. The camera finds him atop some scrubby California hill, smoking a joint with a friend as they ape a tough-guy attitude, but neither one can seem to suppress his smile. Maybe it’s the weed. Maybe it’s the awareness that, in orange-tinted glasses, a denim vest—which he pilfered from the same tour van where he found a rogue bottle of The Gap’s Dream perfume scent, his band’s namesake—and a scraggly beard, he hardly looks hard. Or maybe the dude is just giddy to have found a place in the world so perfectly suited to himself. Regardless, the effect on the viewer is something akin to watching Jimmy Fallon snigger through old SNL skits like a naughty schoolboy. It makes you want to giggle, too.
The contagious mirth of the “Chill Spot” video is a decent metaphor for Shine Your Light as a whole, with its low-contrast, mid-tempo pop shamble. The California sun has suffused Fulvimar’s latest offering with a warmth that was absent on his self-titled debut, which skewed toward a distant and slowed-down sound. For Shine Your Light, Fulvimar and producer Bobby Harlow (The GO, Conspiracy of Owls) picked up the pace and moved the drum machine, hidden in the mix on Gap Dream’s early tracks, front and center. One thing they didn’t change though, was Fulvimar’s reliance on synth, an instrument he uses in sometimes endearingly silly ways, like the cartoonish horn sounds he coaxes out on “Shine Your Love.” Oh, and then there are the lyrics. Sure, there are lines here about his new brown boots inspiring him to strut, but there’s also a whole track (“Immediate Life Sentence”) about how he’d rather stay home smoking weed than listen to his love interest talk. You can take the boy out of Cleveland…
Fulvimar says he has ambitions to move beyond Gap Dream eventually, and since moving to California, he’s been branching out, taking DJ gigs and working on an instrumental synth project called WARM. “I wanna score soundtracks to films,” he says. Since Shine Your Light’s warm reception in late November, such opportunities have been presenting themselves, though Fulvimar won’t go into details.
“It’s scary,” he says. “You know when you want something so bad you think you need it? That can either leave you really happy or really disappointed. So I keep thinking, ‘I don’t care.’ If I really stack everything up, I’m so happy.”
Fulvimar plans to take it easy through the winter, gearing up for a big run of tour dates in the spring. Kicking things off with SXSW, he’ll spend the spring and summer months in a flurry of gigs, first in Europe, and then in the United States. Meanwhile, he has plenty of time to muse on what he wants to do next and how much he enjoys exactly where he is now.
“I lay here at night, in this storage space where I sleep, thinking about how far I’ve come from sending my records in to Sean and listening to King Tuff at home and being a fan. Now I’m here, I live here. Sean’ll have a decision about Burger to make and he’ll ask me! And now King Tuff isn’t just someone whose music I like, he’s my friend! Do you think I’m getting Truman Showed?”
But of course he isn’t. It’s just that, for most of us, life doesn’t align quite so neatly. Yes, we find our way in the world, and our place. But rarely do you find a you-sized hole in the world you can fit into as snugly as Fulvimar seems to fit into his. To find a place like that, and creative partners like the ones Fulvimar has in his corner, well, anyone would find like sort of luck a little surreal.