Over the weekend, local pop musician and producer Seth Gibbs died just a few months after receiving a devastating cancer diagnosis. He was 36.
In the broader Austin community, Gibbs was probably best known for the artpop outfit Bobby Jealousy, which he anchored with his then-wife Sabrina Ellis, but he was a strong presence in the Austin music scene, performing in several other notable acts including Leatherbag and the Reputations. He was also a prolific producer who was generous with his time, recording many other Austin artists at his homegrown Sweetheart Studios.
“We will never forget the generosity and sweetness of Seth Gibbs, especially towards us,” members of the band Ley Line wrote on the band’s official Facebook page. “Seth spent a year and a half with us making our full-length album ‘Field Notes,’ the foundation of our career. He put in his time with zero expectation of return, under the agreement of paying him what we could when we could. This is rare and unforgettable to us. We started with one track and he never once put a limit on what he was willing to help with. Last November, we asked if he'd be willing to let us record our new single at Sweetheart Studios, and he insisted on recording it for us, again with no financial expectation. What we could offer was enough.”
Graham Weber, who plays with November Austin360 Artist of the Month, Western Youth, shared a similar story about recording an album with Gibbs in 2007. “The dude was effortlessly cool, all the while kind and soft spoken,” he wrote. “He was incredibly efficient at the controls, didn’t bill by the hour, and put the full compliment of his talents into our project.”
“Seth Gibbs was the first stranger I contacted before taking up permanent residence in Austin after I learned about Superpop Records,” local artist Jenny Carson wrote on Facebook. “We recorded Mad Maude & the Hatters down the line at Sweetheart Studios and Seth said he thought I was great and wanted to play music with me. A year or two later, we were creating music together in a band called the Reputations. One time, a tree fell on my vehicle. He let me borrow his car for six months and paid for the expenses when mine was broken and I needed help. He beamed ... and dismissed every struggle in his life with a crooked, charming smile and loved the people in his life obsessively.”
In a profile of Gibbs detailing his three-month battle with cancer, the Austin Chronicle reports that while the Reputations’ sound is “fueled by his complex harmonies,” Gibbs relinquished his role as the group’s guitarist this summer.
“For once, I am at a loss for words,” country artist Corey Baum wrote about Gibbs on Facebook. “I'm grateful for the time I got to spend with him over the years. I'm grateful that I got to make one record with him and Jimmy, although I had pictured making many more. His gifts were immense, and he did the most noble thing that a person can do with them ... he shared them.”
Gibbs released an album with a group called Willy Vanilla last week and the Chronicle reports that in late October he was racing to finish a new album written after his cancer diagnosis. He planned to release that album, which features vocals from Ellis, under his alias Brother Machine.