Maile Carballo / KUTX

LP Giobbi Brings It Home

Artist of the Month - May, 2023


KUTX Artist of the Month is powered by PNC Bank

From jazz pianist to dance music superstar, Austin’s LP Giobbi releases her debut full-length album ‘Light Places’ on May 12

By Jeff McCord

Take chances. Be fearless. 

That’s the attitude that has taken LP Giobbi (born Leah Chisolm) in short order from high school piano lessons to the stages of Coachella, EDC, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Tomorrowland.

OK, maybe it’s not quite simple.

Giobbi explains:  “I released my first dance track in 2018. I know that there are a lot of people thinking ‘Oh, you came out of nowhere’. But I was grinding for a very long time before that. I started studying piano in second grade. I started with a wonderful piano teacher in high school and I went to school for jazz piano performance at UC Berklee. And from there I was working in the music industry for a while. I was playing a jazz gig at a bar in San Francisco and an engineer and producer for Daft Punk happened to be in the bar. He asked if I wanted to join his all-female electronic band he was putting together in L.A. At the time I didn’t know anything about electronic music or anything, but the rest of the band is made up of jazz musicians as well, so I decided to take a leap and I moved down to L.A.”

Maybe it’s because our time on the phone is short. Or maybe she’s always like this. She’s animated and excited, recalling her very first introduction to the music. 

“I went to my first electronic show with a friend, a DJ show, and was so confused because I got there and I didn’t understand, like, why is there so much sound? [There’s] just one person on stage, where’s the band? I didn’t even understand the concept. [My friend] broke down. ‘It’s called body music, it’s just going to feel so good to your body. It’s all about your meditative state.’ In school, I’m intellectualizing everything, I know exactly what notes, each chord change on a lead sheet. But I stopped really feeling it. And in that moment, I just fell into a trance and felt like I had a sort of sense of peace, as if, I want to know more about this. I think that’s why I was able to take that leap, my journey to move to L.A. and join the electronic band.” 

Yet it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Giobbi recalls the producer selling her on the concept. 

“‘Don’t worry’, he said. ‘You know music theory and jazz chords, and we’ll teach you the rest. That part will be easy.’ Thank God I believed him, you know, I think ignorance is bliss. If I really understood just how sharp the learning curve would have been, I don’t know that I would have done it. For the next two years, I was in the garage learning, the band did everything live, so we had midi clocks, drum patterns, it was a lot. Once I got control of the gear, I then decided to learn how to produce music, and luckily the band let me take a chance on them. And then, the band was playing at an electronic festival one year and this band that I love, Sofi Tukker, needed an opener for their afterparty. I had no idea how to deejay. But I said, ‘I’ll do it!’ I was horrible, really bad. But I did it.”

LP Giobbi’s debut album Light Places out May 12

It’s a pattern Giobbi has repeated throughout her short and meteoric rise. Do it, and learn. These days her style of DJ’ing, dubbed ‘Piano House’, comes with big crowds and adulation. But at first, it was a work in progress. 

“The first few years I was really bad. I’d be playing too many notes, like diminished seventh chords, just to show you how smart I was. It didn’t actually feel good. I really had to strip everything back and really like under-use my knowledge. And then, finally, I got to a place of understanding the production enough, understanding a groove. Just last year, I would say I was able to bring back in that theory, my knowledge-based theory, because I trust myself more. It was actually a long journey to learn a lot of things I learned.”

Giobbi is doing something unique, integrating improvisation into what is typically rigidly formed music. 

She laughs. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But the fun thing about my live show is I play the piano while I deejay, and then I also have a sequencer that my piano is running through. So it’s almost like I have the world’s best rhythm section, I have a drum loop and maybe some like pad chords or whatever. I keyed all my tracks. And then I play live. I can just sort of improvise over them, tied to the to the grid rhythm section, if you will. Using my jazz background and combining, that has been really fun.”

And hardly the usual thing in the rave world. Not many DJs are playing live instruments over their mix, or citing Bill Evans and the Grateful Dead as big influences. Giobbi recently transformed  Jerry Garcia’s eponymous 1972 release into a club favorite.

“I’m a huge Deadhead,” says the Eugene, Oregon-raised Giobbi. “My parents followed them around in their twenties and went to 100 shows and stuff. Jerry Garcia was essentially like an uncle in my house. I heard his voice every morning. Finding the children who are raised like me, but who are ravers themselves now. And having them hear the music of their parents sort of woven through the music of their generation, connecting with those kids has just been such a joy and such delight. I recently performed at the Playing in the Sand Festival in Mexico, and afterwards, I received the greatest compliment. This father and son came up to me and they said the father dragged his son to this festival because he really wanted him to see the Dead & Co before it was too late. And then the son said, ‘I’ll only go if I can drag you to the late night show with LP Giobbi’ And so they went to the Dead show and then and then to my show and the dad said this is the first time that they really shared a love of music together and that they’ve had fun at a concert together.”

Giobbi’s on the go these days, she’s been out for many weeks, speaking to me on the phone from Guatemala, where she flew after her triumphant Coachella shows to play the Empire Music Festival. But she’s missing her adopted home. 

“I love Austin so much,” she gushes. “I met the love of my life in Austin. I was still working in the music industry for a concert promoter in the Bay Area, and they sent me to South by Southwest for work. And I was down there and I standing outside Stubbs, and this guy wandered by and started talking to me. And now he’s my fiancee. When we were in the pandemic with him being in L.A., it was not a great place for my soul. It never really spoke to me, and we decided to move back to the place that we met and fell in love. I literally just this morning, I thought, I am missing the East Side so much. I’m so grateful to be there.”

But it’s going to be a while before she gets back. From Guatemala, she flys to Asheville NC to kick off the tour for her soon-to-be-released full-length debut album, Light Places (out May 12 on Ninja Tune). 

“I’m flying to Asheville, North Carolina, and I’m starting an Airstream tour with D.J. Tennis, a dear friend and collaborator. We outfitted an Airstream. I don’t even know why, but I thank God they gave us Airstream and we tuned it into a recording studio and driving all over the U.S. and popping up in random places like caves and airplane hangars and all that stuff. We’ll have a radio show on Amazon and we’re interviewing interesting folks. My parents are going to drive the Airstream. And we’re making a documentary, so we’ll be on that during the release and we’re doing in-store and in-store record signing thing in San Francisco on May 12 when it actually comes out.”

Her enthusiasm and excitement are contagious. She spills out the itinerary.  

“But the tour ends in Austin on May 28th. We play the Superstition Club.”

Finally, a pause, a breath.  

“And I’m just so home.”