Over the phone, Gigi Rowe's voice jumps an octave as she describes the moment things began to feel real for her. It wasn't during a concert or backstage but thanks to a coveted spot in one of the world's most popular video games.
She remembers attending an event in Paris, fresh off the success of her single "Run the Night" and the viral remix that introduced it to a global audience. Gigi found herself at a large-scale production in one of the global capitals of culture. World-renowned photographers and stylists huddled around her, cameras in hand, and asked a question as profound as it was simple: "You're the artist — does this shoot work for you?"
It was there, across the Atlantic, where Gigi realized things had changed for her — probably forever. With "Run the Night" getting placed on the Just Dance 2017 soundtrack, nestled among tracks from global artists such as Sia and Justin Bieber, Gigi knew her career was in for a boost.
"I got the call from my producer, [Miami-based] ill Factor, that our song would be part of this global video game franchise. To be among that kind of company, as a new artist, was really exciting. In that moment, everything felt real."
Ill Factor, a producer whose credits read like a laundry list of hit records, is an artist whom Gigi credits as a helpful guide through the maze that is the music industry. It makes sense, then, that the producer whose influence and experience have steered Gigi to new highs is a product of the city where she finds much of her creative inspiration. After spending time in cities as disparate as Nashville and London, Gigi describes the growing sense of freedom she feels in her newfound home base, Miami.
"Miami — with its retro-'50s aesthetic and art deco architecture — feels like it transcends time and space. I believe Gigi Rowe, as a character, is a glamorous runaway, and there's no better place in the world to be a glamorous runaway."
And, speaking of Gigi Rowe the persona — known to sport colorful wigs and heart-shaped sunglasses — the singer describes how time spent working on the smallest details has painted the bigger picture, a picture the world is learning about in carefully disseminated pieces. She speaks of pictures and mood boards and all the bits of inspiration manifesting in real life, ready for their grand unveiling.
A large source of inspiration can be traced to the iconic women whose music and personalities inspired the dance world. At a concert featuring two first-name-only artists — Madonna and Cher — Gigi felt she'd found her calling and, more specifically, her "tribe."
"To see them — after decades of doing their thing at the highest level — be so warm and funny and engaging was a game-changer."
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In that moment, Gigi saw a glimpse into her future, rocking those lavish costumes and finding a balance between substantive, liberating creativity and expansive pop sensibilities.
With her EP having dropped December 2, Gigi explains with a subtle charm that she'll board a plane to Paris in just a few hours. There, she'll bring the next mood board to life. There, she'll manifest the next chapter of the story she's written for herself. With a curling smile evident even over the phone, she describes the outlook she has for Gigi Rowe.
"A little bit real, a little bit made up. I like dancing between the two. Every day is a blank canvas."