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Kristin Gilmet sinks into Italian beat pop

Vocalist Kristin Gilmet is nothing if not adventurous.

She first regaled audiences with the Global Village idiots, the local band whose music had trace elements of avant-garde, surf, dance pop and improv, with the occasional sugary pop song or Broadway tune thrown in for good measure.

The off-beat chanteuse performed early 20th-century novelty songs with the Parlor Squares, originals and covers from the '60s to the '80s with ZouZou and nouveau-lounge stylings with the After Hours. There was jazz with the In Crowd and everything from new wave and '90's post-punk to surf, spaghetti western and acid jazz with the Bipolaroids.

Gilmet's new group, Baci e Ceci, plays Italian beat pop. Performing with her are Jesse Reiter on bass, Sakura Sealcat on guitar and husband Dave on drums. Kristin also plays keyboards.

From 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Baci e Ceci will perform live at Ciao Bella! – billed as an "All-Italian Night" – at Revolution Gallery, 1419 Hertel Ave.

Gilmet was born in Buffalo and studied Italian in high school and college. She lives in Allentown, and is an assessment and advisement instructor for Buffalo Public Schools adult education, working with adults learning English as a second language. The News caught up with her Wednesday.

Q: You're drawn to a lot of musical styles. Who are some of your influences?

A: As many people are, I'm influenced by the Beatles, and a lot of the '60s sound and fashion and vibe. When I approach music, it is going to be colored by that aesthetic or sensibility.

Q: How did you arrive at playing Italian beat pop?

A: Most of the songs I was finding myself drawn to were falling into that genre, or close to it. Everything we do doesn't, but I like that as a starting point to describe what we do. It's the feeling or the vibe that I want to go for. And I definitely want to get to the point where we cultivate even more of that as we build our repertoire.

I'm also Italian. Years ago I did travel to Italy on a train from France, and maybe it's silly, but I felt different. I felt connected to this place even though I hadn't been there.

In many projects I have had, I have incorporated some Italian into it. I wrote a couple of songs in rudimentary Italian even in the Global Village Idiots. I would cringe to have an Italian scholar critique it, but it was just something I had wanted to do. With After Hours, a cover band, we did the Italian version of "Over the Rainbow."

Q: You also do an Italian version of "As Tears Go By."

A: The Rolling Stones themselves did it in Italian. And there was an Italian band that did it. We do an Italian version of the Monkees song, "I'm a Believer," but the translation is "I'm a Liar," which kind of works if you read it in Italian.

Everyone in the '60s was influenced by the Beatles, and Italy was no exception. The literal Italian translation of their title for "Day Tripper" is "You Are Not Straight." We haven't done that yet, but we probably will. I do want to do more obscure things, too, and give people a good balance.

Q: You and your husband Dave have been in a few bands together. What's that like?

A: I think in many ways it has helped our relationship grow. On the flip side of that, there are tensions that come out of that. This was supposed to be something I did without him and he ended up being in it. I think it's a little different because he's playing the drums and guitar is his first instrument, although he has switched off on bass. Playing the drums gives him a little bit of distance, because he's not involved with the melodies.

Q: Is being onstage as easy for you as you make it seem?

A: Performing is a love/hate thing. I struggle with it all the time. Look, I have to do it in some ways, but I hate it sometimes. I mean, I really do. I get really nervous before something comes up to the point of just wishing I didn't commit to it. Obviously, I perform so I want to get myself out there, but it's never easy.

Q: How important has finding success on a large scale been?

A: Some people are very, very driven and very, very ambitious. I'm just not like that, and I've never been like that. I don't want it to sound like I don't feel like it's not appealing in some way, because I do have that desire on some level. But I also have such extreme anxiety and need to ground myself. So to put myself out on that level is really inconceivable to me. But I have carved a little niche for myself here, and I feel like I have my own little world of that, and that's OK.

I've become more comfortable in who I am as a performer. I mean, I've always loved singing since I could talk, and people recognized that early on. I love to perform but I've always been socially awkward and introverted.

Getting on stage is like a drug. You get a surge of adrenaline and it just takes over. But then you crash from it. When I did Edgefest with Global Village Idiots for example, when we played on the local stage in front of our biggest crowd, I felt for days afterward like I couldn't relax. It was good, but it was almost too good. You can see how people who are truly famous go mad. I don't really want that – I mean, I want it, but I don't want it.

Q: Are you usually pleased with how things went after you step off stage, or are you more likely to be beating yourself up by what you felt didn't go well?

A: Sometimes you're recalling these moments when things really worked, but you're also magnifying moments that other people just don't even care about. But I do recognize the good, maybe not as much as I should, but I do.

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