Interview: GILT

Jacksonville-based band GILT is a queer-punk/emo outfit that set their focus on LGBTQ+ topics and mental health advocacy. GILT is made up of four loud and proud members including Tyler(he/they) on guitar/vocals, Nico(she/they) on bass/vocals, Tilley(they/them) on guitar, and Ash (she/her) on drums. We spoke with Nico and Tyler to get a little more insight into what GILT is all about.

Hi there! I’m Nico, I’m the bassist and backup vocalist in GILT, a loud queer-punk band from North Florida. Thanks for interviewing me today! – Nico
And I’m Tyler, the front person, and primary songwriter. Thanks for having us! – Tyler

What is GILT exactly? Does it stand for something?

Gilt is an art term for gold fleck over paintings. Most people would probably know it from Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss.’ I just think there’s a link between what we make tonally and the idea of a cold metal used in this weird sometimes-cohesive-sometimes-not combination with organic painterly forms. And the capitalization just felt right, honestly. – Tyler

Can you explain the meaning behind “On Life And Living?”

GILT tackles (religious) faith and ego a lot. I think younger me conceptualized God as a wish-granting genie. Growing up I realized prayer was a much more desperate sort of thing. You have no control, no bargaining chips with God. The crux of the song is about a time when my grandmother had recently passed and I was also experiencing some other close people leaving my life. It’s sort of a stab at the stages of grief from the book “On Death and Dying.” Basically, before you make someone else transitioning to another stage of life about your feelings, first celebrate them if it’s healthy and good for them to go. Before you enter this horrible bartering with God’s situation to get someone you miss back, check yourself because people aren’t there for your comfort or use. It’s about trying to care from a distance. – Tyler

You’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community- does being queer as well as being in a loud and proud queer band effect your experience in the music industry? If so, how?

We’ve been really fortunate in our experiences in the music industry. So many artists past and present experienced harassment and gatekeeping for us to reach the point that what we talk about can be at worst quietly ignored but most often vocally celebrated wherever we go. We do spend a lot of time researching where we’re going, who we’re working with, and do our best to focus on people with a message, and whose business ethics reflect ours. At the end of the day, we’re probably more conscious of social politics and creating safe and representative spaces than most bands, but that’s a choice because we want to see that. We’re being exactly who we want to be and trying to spread that comfort around.

I recall you mentioning that GILT is an avid supporter of an annual charity show- can you tell us more about that?

Yes! We organize a fundraiser show series called Snipfest, this is its second year. There are shows across Florida hosting events and pool the money for a selected recipient’s top surgery. The shows aren’t exclusive, but we do focus on showcasing LGBTQ+ musicians and artists.

A lot of your music revolves around heavy but necessary subjects such as anxiety, depression, and consent. Do you have any advice for femmes in the industry trying to write music that encompasses these subjects?

I think the scariest/most nerve-wracking feeling of putting yourself out there, pouring your heart out into a song for others to hear is a level of emotional vulnerability, but I think it’s important to do so. For myself, it’s a form of catharsis, and for others, they can also use it as a way to heal. I think the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Honestly, when I first started writing lyrics, I was so scared that my feelings were so… sad and depressing. But upon meeting other people, and sharing experiences, I know that a lot of people are feeling the same thing that I’m feeling, and writing these types of songs that deal with mental health, really helps a lot of people. – Nico

You recently released a zine about anxiety called “Sometimes I Get Nervous On Airplanes.” You so kindly gave me one at The Bronze house show – and let me say, it’s beautiful. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write it?

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and upon being diagnosed with it, I discovered a lot about myself. For those who don’t know what this is like, I’m pretty much on edge all the time. And when I was younger, it controlled every aspect of my life. It’s still hard, but I’ve learned a lot of ways to go about it, and I have done so many things despite those setbacks. I wanted to put the zine out there so people knew they weren’t alone, and that there were things they could do to help cope with their anxiety, that maybe they didn’t know about before! I also included a PDF of it, for anyone who wanted to read it!

Are there any other tips or advice you’d like to give LGBTQ+ community members in the music industry?

I would say to put yourself out there, even if you’re scared, or even if you think it’s not good enough. It’s really important to make that initial leap – I feel like it helps over time. Also, never sell yourself short! Know your time and value. This goes for musicians and artists! – Nico

Be upfront, that’s my best advice. Our songs have a lot of weird metaphors and allusions, so we’ve really taken to just bluntly stating our feelings during our sets. At first, I thought it might be a bit awkward. But the number of crying hugs I’ve received after, when someone says, “That was for me. That happened to me, and that song was about me. Thank you,” and shared part of their story with us in return, was eye-opening. Be candid and get personal. – Tyler

Are there any other projects or upcoming shows you’d like to promote?

We have a show coming up at the Amphitheater in Saint Augustine, Friday the 13th in September. We’re opening up for Propagandhi, a personal favorite punk band of mine, and we’re all stoked. We’re also playing Fest this year in Gainesville, and we had Snipfest at the beginning of October all throughout Florida!

GILT have a handful of upcoming shows including Rain dogs., Nighthawks and Fest 18 in Jacksonville and Shred City in Miami. According to their Facebook, GILT have locked down a date set to begin recording their first full-length record following the Rain dogs show. You can find dates and tickets to their upcoming shows on their Facebook page.