Gabe Lopez, who has produced and written songs for Belinda Carlisle, New Kids On The Block, South Korean singer Key and other multi-platinum artists, is releasing his Super 8-styled music video “Vivian & Valerie,” featuring YouTube stars Austin Burk and Patrick Broderick getting into drag, today (June 28).
The song is from Lopez’s latest album God Bless The Queens, which was released on Spectra Music Group last fall.
“The album title was decided at the very end, of course. I write all the songs and pick the ones that I think are the best. Then I thought, what’s the unifying theme? I was looking at the characters of the songs ‘Vivian and Valerie,’ ‘Firestar’ and ‘Laugh,’ so in all these things it’s all these gay characters and it’s their journeys and their trials and tribulations, and I love all of them,” Lopez says. “What’s a way to have a nod to them and say that I love and respect them? So I just decided to call it God Bless the Queens.
“The song is about these two friends that love each other and are in love with each other, and you want to see that friendship. Jealousy and love interests interfere but ultimately the deep friendship prevails and shines through. So, it’s almost as though they’re friends no matter what, and no one’s going to come between them. I’m lucky in that the two stars in the video are best friends — so I knew that they would have that chemistry where they could just be best friends on camera and tease each other and be funny or be mean and it doesn’t matter,” Lopez explained.
He also talked about writing this song and where he got the inspiration: “It’s real interesting because I wrote the song on acoustic guitar, so the chords themselves kind of have a Fleetwood Mac feel, like Stevie Nicks’ song ‘Dreams,’ and then when I produced it I wanted something with a real ’80s flair, so there’s a lot of Madonna and Cyndi Lauper with the actual production. Duran Duran and a little hint of the B-52’s because I’m a big fan of theirs, as well.”
He continues, “The actual song is pop, but there’s a real melancholy to it. There’s a sadness and something very throwback and you’re reliving a memory. So, I wanted that for the video and Patrick and Austin directed and edited the video. I’m a big fan of the B-52’s and they have a video called ‘Deadbeat Club’ where it’s very retro and very ’60s, so I kind of wanted that vibe, but through an ’80s lens because the song itself sounds very ’80s. So I wanted a Super 8 film look.”
Lopez says the duo even rewrote the ending for the clip. “Originally, we were gonna have them go out dancing and then they had this idea, what if they got up and got ready to go out, but then after all of that, they realize, you know what? We’re fine just hanging out with each other and playing cards at home and watching movies, and they told me that idea and I wasn’t sure about it, but when I saw the video, I thought, you know what? That actually is cool. That makes a lot of sense.”
He also spoke about being out and proud as an artist. “Being an openly gay artist, I felt it was important to create a visual piece that gay youth could relate to,” Lopez said. “Gay youth have a high suicide rate and I felt it was important to showcase another one of the sides of gay culture. So, Austin and Patrick and I talked about that if there had been more visuals of a video like this growing up, it would have a normalized culture more and people would have felt more secure with themselves. When you’re growing up, you want to see heroes that you can look up to and artists that you can look up to. And I certainly have a lot of artists that I loved growing up, but there wasn’t a video like this, and even though I’m not really entrenched in the drag part of gay culture, I respect it and I thought it was important to showcase that art. You know, that it’s okay to dress up, that it’s okay to play, that it’s okay to be yourself.”
Lopez, who has been producing and writing since 1996, has worked with James Brown, Joey McIntyre, Charice, SHINee, Tae Yang, VeriVery, Drew Ryan Scott, DreamNote and Ms. Triniti. He was Carlisle’s opening act for her 2014-2017 U.K. and U.S. tours. He is signed to a music publishing deal with Rondor Music/Universal.
Lopez explained how he met the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, in 2006. “That was so interesting. His manager at the time, Frank Copsidas, liked my first album that had come out called This Is About You and he wanted me to write for two of his artists who are in Russia, and so I wrote and submitted songs for these two artists, but I noticed that he also managed James Brown, so I said, ‘Hey, I would love to write and send you songs for James Brown,’ and he said, ‘Well, he hates everything, but go ahead and try it.’ So I did, and he loved the two songs that I wrote and sent to him. So that was such an honor. Then there was a press release that went out from James Brown’s team and the management team with this great quote, ‘Mr. Lopez gets the funk. Mr. Lopez gives us hope for the future of music,’ that just made me feel wonderful, and I was honored,” Lopez recalls. “I was very, very excited, and then he got the flu and died in the hospital on Christmas Day. So, I was like, oh, that’s horrible. I mean, this is a legend. I don’t know if the songs will ever see the light of day, but at the end of the day, I’m thankful I got the job.”
Lopez is also contributing to Carlisle’s upcoming album, which he says is half done.