Behind the Lyrics: “Success” with Gaby Palavincinni

Updated: Apr 2

By Maricruz Villalobos


Welcome back to Behind the Lyrics, where I ask artists to break down their songwriting process, and share their inspirations behind the song.


Today I interviewed Gaby Palavincinni, a 20 year old independent musician from Los Angeles. Gaby shared that writing this song helped aid some doubts she had about pursuing music as a career. She was better able to understand how much time it takes to climb the ladder that is the music industry. Everything needs time and redefining what success meant to her was a big moment in her life.


Less than 30 dollars in my pocket

Got a dream but I ain’t goin up like a rocket


When I wrote this line, I quite literally had like $30 in my pocket. In my definition broke. But I still had this dream that I've always had throughout my life. Sometimes when you have a dream that big, it's really hard to see the success happen instantly. You don't just go up like a rocket, it's more like climbing a mountain, it's a step by step. It takes a really long time. But sometimes we want it to happen so fast, because necessities. For example, you have to pay bills, you know, you need to have a job. So it's really hard to believe in your dreams from a more realistic perspective of the world. What I'm saying in this line is I have a dream, and right now it's not happening for me.


Trying to figure out what it means to be myself in the world

Trying to figure out what it means to be successful in terms of


I'm trying to figure out what it means to be ME in the world. Trying to find my identity, trying to find who I am, what's my story. At the same time trying to figure out what it means to be successful, in terms of not just money or status. More than that, like what it means to be successful in terms of "Will you be happy or be lonely inside?" That's really ,for me, what defines success at the end of the day. That's what I've learned in the past year as I grow and mature. That success is not so much based on money or material things in the world. But more on the fulfillment of your soul in your heart like: Are you doing what you love? Are you being the person that you know, deep down inside. Are you being true to yourself? Do you love that person that you see in the mirror? I'm not referring physically but spiritually.


Tell me after all the money and the fame

Will I be happy inside?


This is just me thinking out loud. If I have all the money, or the fame in the world that every musician and artist dreams about at the end of the day. Will you be happy inside? That's the question that I'm asking myself.

So I want fame

Like everybody else

But sometimes I wonder

If maybe singing in the shower

Or in my room is better


Artists always say that they write music just to write it. That's true! We all make music because we love music. But also, without having a big audience it's hard to make a living out of music. That's something that we all want. We all want to just be artists and that be our career. It's really hard to make it in the industry. That's a reality that we all have to face, on our journey or on our climb to success. When I sing in the shower or in my room that's when I'm in my prime of creativity. That's when I feel like I can write or sing and not worry about anything else. Whether people are gonna like it, whether it can go viral TikTok. I can just worry about singing what I want to sing and saying what I want to say and just let my artistry shine through.


Yeah I want my success

But what does success really mean

Will I be happy? Will I be satisfied?

Or lonely inside?


Yeah, I want success. You know, I think all artists want success. At the end of the day, before anything else, what's more important to me is that I'm happy, and that I'm satisfied with my life. That I'm not lonely inside. Like, you hear a lot of stories about artists that are so successful, and they have everything that they could ever want or need. But they still feel like they're searching for something. I think that what I learned in this past year is that a lot of times we search for that fulfillment in other things, or even in other people, when in reality, it's all within yourself. It's kind of the perspective that you give your life. So for me, it's like, knowing who I am and being true to who I am. Living my truth every day. Being with my family, watching the trees, literally just sitting down and watching trees like that stuff gives me happiness. That stuff makes me feel successful. Not in terms of money or things like that. Just my soul. Where my soul is at the moment and how it feels.


Waiting for my big break but it never comes anyway

2021 is passing me day by day

And i'm not even close to where I told myself I’d be today


I'm waiting for the moment. I think as an artist you go through a process where your entire life you're preparing, preparing, and polishing your skills and polishing your voice. If you play an instrument, polishing how you play that instrument and getting better at it everyday. As an artist, I think you're always learning, you're always improving your craft. So what I'm saying is I'm ready for the next step. I'm ready for that dream. But it never comes anyway. And that's, that's like, I feel like a lot of artists, upcoming artists, at some point, they find themselves in that position, and it's a really hard position to be in. For me 2021 was the year I told myself, I was gonna fly. Unfortunately, sometimes things don't happen on our own time they happen on the time of the universe. Sometimes you think that something is right for you at this moment but it's not. It's going to happen when it's right and when it's perfect.


It's hard to live this way

They say i should just give up

But it's way too late

I'll spend my whole life chasing


A lot of times, it's easy for people to tell you that you should just give up on a dream. Especially if your dream is something that people see as too far out or something that's impossible. Nothing is really impossible. I've had people tell me "you should just give up and do something realistic!" or do something that you can "see" with your eyes. I say it's way too late, because I've always been a dreamer. And I don't believe in things just because I see them, I believe in things because I don't see them. That's what faith really is at the end of the day. I'm gonna spend my whole life chasing, even if I never make it. I'm always gonna want to be an artist, and I'm always gonna want to make music. That's always going to be my dream.


Some people think that when you drive a Ferrari

When you've got billions of dollars in your bank account you're happy


When you think of being wealthy and successful, a lot of the images that pop up in your head are of fancy cars or a big mansion! Or just dollar dollar dollar signs. While all of that can be amazing and can be helpful to any person's life...because who wouldn't want to have a billion dollars? The reality of it is, that's not what makes you happy. I feel like a lot of people, when they define success, they think about those things. It's something that wrongly defines success, at least to me.


People dress in Gucci to feel worth something

But what you wear is only as good as what you have inside


A lot of people want to wear like all the famous brands...and there's nothing wrong with that! Like, please do you! If you want to be bougie, please be bougie. The reality of it is none of the outside or what you wear can be as good, if what you have inside is not equally as good. Because what you have inside is really what kind of reflects to the outside what you're worth. Not necessarily what you put on.


What they don't realize is it's the simple things in life

Like walking the street

Watching the trees


It's such a simple thing. Maybe we don't even realize how special it is. For me, there's something so special about putting my headphones on and just walking around like my neighborhood. Just looking around me and trying to find beauty in everything that I see. I think that it really is the simple things in life that can give you meaning, fulfillment, and purpose.


Helping out those in need

Being with family

In the end that's all you need

That’s all you need


The times that I most feel successful and happy in my life are the times where nobody's watching and nobody's with me. I see someone in need and I'm able to help them. I don't do it because of any particular reason for myself. I do it because in my heart, I want to help other people. Those moments are so special when I get to ,in any way shape or form, help another person or spread some kindness. Just even to smile and have that be contagious. Have other people be inspired by a smile. I feel so happy in those moments and I feel like my life has meaning and purpose. Those little moments are what define success in my life. Being with family is super important. I've always put family over anything! A lot of people will always say you've got to just focus on work, work, work.. For me, I think that it's important to find little spaces of time in between your busy schedule to spend time with the people that you love. Because one day, they won't be around and you won't have those core memories to look back on. Nobody gives you that time back. So it's really important to be with family. It's one of the things that most fulfills my heart and my soul. Because I feel like I'm sure I am surrounded by people who love me, support me and believe in me, and I love them the same way. That's just an amazing feeling.


Maybe someday

I'll get to be somebody in this life

I'd really like to buy my mom and dad a house


I think it's taken a really long time in my journey to realize that this is 100% MY dream. I can't choose something else. I can't choose a plan B. This is my plan A! I've always wanted to do music ever since I was a little girl, and I think I'm finally ready to pursue it. Maybe someday I'll get to be somebody in this life. We all hope for that. I really do hope that one day I get to share my music with a lot of people and my music gets to change lives. The line "I'd really like to buy my mom and dad a house" is not just the house. I'd really like to make my parents proud. I was a first generation student. I'm the daughter of two immigrants who came to this country looking for a better future. They've done pretty much everything they can, and have sacrificed a lot to give me the best opportunities to become something and be successful. To do something great with my life.


I'd like to make a difference in someone else's life

But if I'll always be a nobody

There's something that won't change


Every single person, it doesn't matter who you are or what you do, music plays a big part in your life. Either for good or bad. Hopefully it's for good! Music is something that is so universal, and I think that when you're an artist you don't just see it as a hobby. You see it as an opportunity to share a story with the world. That's what I see my music as! I see it like a film. Every song that I make is a story that I want to tell. It might not be mine, it might be someone else's experience, but I see every song like a little movie.


With less than 30 dollars in my pocket

Well, I'm doing okay

F*ck that

I'm feeling great


Hopefully, we all achieve our dreams but sometimes it happens like not everybody will be a star that shines above in the sky. That's ok! One thing that won't change is that I'll always be the same person with $30 in my pocket.


Listen to the episode below!




You can reach Maricruz Villalobos at maricruv@uci.edu !



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