Belo Cipriani: How do you categorize your style of music?
Gypsy Love: My style of music can be characterized as Dance Pop with a soulful World Fusion vibe. I blend modern electronica with ancient global rhythms, live instrumentation, and uplifting lyrics. The result is high-energy dance music infused with international flavors.
BC: You write and sing music with a positive message. What made you focus on this theme?
GL: I believe performing a song is like casting a spell. As listeners sing along and move to the music, they start to embody the vibration of that song. Their entire consciousness shifts. Years ago, I began to see a disturbing pattern in the industry. Negative vibes, empty lyrics, and/or toxic messaging seemed to control the mainstream music market. Sure, I understand our world is in a state of crisis, and I appreciate all forms of creative expression, but there needs to be a balance. I found myself avoiding mainstream radio since the vast majority of lyrics focused on — and even glorified — destructive themes like gender bias and hostile competition (especially among women). Where were the songs that fueled hope and promoted a positive social impact?
Meanwhile, I’d relish in the uplifting sounds that would set me free on the dance floor. I grew up in San Francisco’s undergound house music scene, where speakers would thump with soulful divas singing about love. I’d witness and partake in the transformation that happened when people collectively tuned into the joy. We’d dance in celebration with hearts open and smiles aglow. I truly believe that energy is what the world craves — especially now.
So, I created Gypsy Love Productions in 2008, driven by a mission to inspire love and unity through uplifting music and movement. My goal is to transform darkness into light by motivating listeners to love themselves, appreciate each other, and focus on the positive. Positivity breeds more positivity.
BC: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
GL: Do you want the short answer or the long answer?
The short answer is simple: “Love.” Nothing inspires me more than experiencing people loving and living their bliss.
I’m also extremely inspired by the blending of creative influences. I was adopted at birth and raised Italian. And my biological origin is a mix of Mexican, Native American and Libyan. I never fit into one ethnic “box,” so I grew up embracing and valuing diversity. On top of that, I’m from San Francisco — a melting pot of many beautiful cultures. Much of my creative process is about fusing different elements that may otherwise seem like opposites — like electronic music and live instrumentation. It’s fun to take a standard house music beat and layer it with complex Arabian percussion… Or perform Middle Eastern Belly Dance to a Hip Hop melody accented by live violin. I’m constantly inspired by the eclectic communities that surround me. I want them all to make love. Music and dance are my methods of doing just that.
BC: Are there any musicians you admire?
GL: I wasn’t even alive in the ’60s, and yet I continue to feel a deep connection with the music from that era. Artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind & Fire have always inspired me with their thought-provoking lyrics and soulful rhythms. And I adore disco! Legends like Donna Summer, The Emotions, and Evelyn “Champagne” King make my heart soar. I’m energized by the euphoria that takes over when people dissolve unnecessary boundaries and unite under a disco ball in the name of love and dance. Current artists that excite me include Chromeo, Daft Punk and Sia. I’m super into Sia right now. She’s an extraordinary songwriter — and WOW, that voice!
BC: Before you perform your songs, do you do any type of meditation or ritual?
GL: I usually perform with a group of dancers and musicians. Together we’re known as “Gypsy Love Productions” (unofficially, we call ourselves “Team Love”). Before a show, we hold hands in a circle and I lead us in a meditation. I give thanks for the ability to express ourselves creatively and to inspire others to do the same. I dedicate the performance to all those whose hearts crave love, and I remind everyone that it’s our sacred birthright to be here. All the music, choreography, and lyrics exist within us already. We just need to exhale and allow our light to shine. I also enact this ritual when I perform solo (it just looks a little different since I’m holding my own hands, lol!).
BC: You are a dance teacher. How long does it take to choreograph your videos?
GL: Yes, I teach Belly Dance professionally. I also volunteer as a Hip Hop instructor for a Bay Area-based organization called S.N.A.P. (Special Needs Arts Program), where I teach children with special needs how to express themselves with the gift of dance…
Choreography comes in phases. Sometimes it just pours out of me so quickly I can barely catch up. Other times, I’m more “formulaic” in my approach — especially when I’m choreographing pieces for many dancers, which requires strategic timing, transitions, and staging. This takes a bit longer (days, or even weeks). I also enjoy collaborating with other choreographers. I’ve been so fortunate to work with amazing dancers like Chad Conner (Hip Hop), Johnathan Lay (Hip Hop/Go-go), and Eldon Bryce (Ballroom), to name just a few. And many times, even when I’m the official choreographer, I keep my mind open and welcome input from Team Love. The co-creative process is very exciting for me. We are each reflections of each other’s light. Our talents complement one another, and incredible results unfold. To quote one of my songs, it’s a “Beautiful Thing.”
BC: Where can people buy your music?
GL: My music — including my newest single, “Kaleidoscope” — is available at all major distributors like iTunes, Amazon, and Beatport. Visit www.GypsyLoveProductions.com for music downloads, videos, performance dates, Belly Dance classes, and more.
BC: Anything I missed?
GL: I’ll end with the phrase I use to close every performance: “Love yourself. Love each other. Every day, make love.”
Who is Belo Cipriani?
Belo Cipriani is the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind, the “Get to Work” columnist for SFGate.com, and the author of Blind: A Memoir. You are invited to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.