Gab Strum was 15 years old and on a tediously long family vacation. With nothing to do but listen to Tycho and The Postal Service, he opened his iPad and discovered Garageband. It was on long car rides and flights that he began building loops and messing with different sounds, creating music under the moniker, Japanese Wallpaper. That name would soon become synonymous with an individual who would create winsome electronic music and production so potent, it’s like it were designed to make your heart feel, rather than your feet move.
Back from his holiday and armed with a handful of tracks, he threw one up on Triple J’s Unearthed website and Gab took home the top prize in the coveted “Unearthed High” competition, and was propelled into the spotlight. “I never really expected any of this to become a thing, I was just making songs in my bedroom and putting them up on Soundcloud to show my friends. And that was the extent of it,” he notes.
He took his time to finish high school and steadily worked on his debut self-titled EP, which he recorded in his bedroom and released in 2016. A dazzling collection of introspective and slow-burning songs, brimming with a lo-fi haziness, the EP has gone on to garner 20 million streams and found fans in Charli XCX, Flume, Gotye, Lily Allen, Chet Faker and Bombay Bicycle Club.
His song, “Breathe In” was personally selected by Zach Braff to feature alongside indie luminaries like Bon Iver, The Shins and Cat Power in his highly acclaimed filmed and soundtrack Wish I Was Here, with his other tracks finding their way into scenes of shows like Offspring (Netflix), Catfish: The TV Show (MTV), Awkward (MTV), Made In Chelsea (E4) and Scream: The TV Series (MTV). He’s also garnered attention from NME, i-D Vice, HillyDilly, Indie Shuffle, EARMILK, Hype Machine and more.
Influenced by the all encompassing industry endeavours of artist/producers like Rostam and Jack Antonoff, as well as Chris Walla (formerly of Death Cab For Cutie), Gab has also produced records by Half Waif, Mallrat, Wafia, Allday, swim good now, Eilish Gilligan, Charlie Lim, Katz, as well as remixing for artists like Charli XCX, Luke Howard and more.
Now 21 years old, the Melbourne based artist is gearing up for his next full length release, which is a departure from his first effort, leaving his melancholic melodies behind and embracing a resounding sense of hopefulness and ambition.
First song from the release, “Fooling Around” is a dizzying spell of synths and saccharine melodies, with textures of electronica layered over a lyrical narrative that sees Gab sing of self-confidence. The song is a call to arms to anyone who has ever felt the need to assert themselves, and the forthcoming record is a further exploration of that theme, with an introspective look into Gab’s own journey of identity. “It’s about me finding my place, and figuring out who I am and what I want to do, and how that functions in the world.”
“A lot of it is, awkward songs about having a crush,” he admits, adding, “a lot of it is also me trying to figure all that stuff out – which is what I love the most about writing songs and why I do it, which is to figure things out.”
The record began to take shape in his apartment in Elsternwick, Victoria and eventually made its way to Atlanta, Georgia where it was completed with the help of Grammy Award Winning Ben Allen (Neon Indian, Cut Copy, Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective) who mixed and mastered the effort. “It’s the record I’ve always wanted to make up until this point, but I’ve never really felt like I could until now.”