Gabriel Judet-Weinshel: Brooklyn, New York
Gabriel Judet-Weinshel, Songwriter and Film Composer
Brooklyn, New York

Unpinnable Butterflies is the overarching project name for Brooklyn songwriter and film composer Gabriel Judet-Weinshel. Gabriel’s record and second collaboration with Grammy-nominated producer and composer Scott Healy (American Steel, Ricky Martin, Phoebe Snow) “Radio Ocean” was released in September 2021 via sonaBLAST! Records. It’s a sprawling and raucous affair, over a decade in the making. The record expands the sound of Gabriel’s sometimes intimate first record into a wider, free-wheeling and eclectic stew, channeling everything from country, to west African guitar riffs, to classic rock. Never one to stop moving, Gabriel has also scored two feature films—the cult film, "7 Splinters in Time," which he wrote and directed, released theatrically in 2018, and the Netflix documentary ‘From Baghdad to Brooklyn’ while his songs have played nationally on Fuse’s “Live From Bonnaroo,” on the TV series “In Between Men,” and in the independent film “Where Hope Grows.” He also led the house jazz trio for many years at New York’s Soho House, and is hard at work on a cinema-musical.

Be sure to watch ConciergeQ's Tasha Dhwaj's interview with Gabriel too!

Questionnaire
1
What is your favorite word to describe Brooklyn?

Pungent.

2
What word best reflects the people of Brooklyn?

Palimpsest.

3
What is the most creative, spiritual or emotional place in Brooklyn?

In my twenties, I used to juggle on the street for rent. Cribbing a trick from Philippe Petit (as recounted by Paul Auster in his essay "On the High Wire"), I’d draw a circle in chalk in the pavement to delineate my stage and draw the crowd to its edge. Some of my favorite moments, during a South Brooklyn street festival, were packing the audience tightly around me on Smith Street, the acoustics in those closely-stacked streets agile and intimate. The finale was an axe, a machete, and an apple. I’d finish covered in summer sweat, the joy from the exchange greater payment than the bills thrown into my threadbare bowler.  

4
What is your favorite outdoor activity in Brooklyn?

Prospect Park. Olmsted’s masterpiece.

5
What is your favorite indoor activity in Brooklyn?

I remember, in the before times, back when my wife Pilar and I lived in a third-floor, rent stabilized walk-up in Boerum Hill, before close-quartered conviviality didn’t carry the frisson of fear, our first house-warming party accommodated fifty guests in our ramshackle 700-square-foot space (well, accommodated is hyperbole—the floor properly sagged with our weight). Our subsequent gatherings would often evolve (or devolve, depending on your taste) to free-form jam sessions, as we regaled guests with sundry instruments from my collection: a nylon-string guitar, a cello, a violin, a clarinet, an Oud, a rain-sodden snare drum excavated from Wyckoff Street (with paint brushes for brushes). One night ended with our friend reciting Bukowski over our jovial, out-of-tune din: "what matters most is / how well you / walk through the / fire."

6
What is your favorite sound or noise in Brooklyn?

I will never forget the sounds at 7pm each night from the nadir of the pandemic. I wrote this to remember:

SOUTH BROOKLYN, 7PM

all along Crown Heights rooftops 
people are shouting singing 
holding beer wine 
cocktails hot dogs maybe 
ten cheers for the doctors 
the super heroes 
delivery people
grocers
mailwomen
they were the gods the queens 
of this earthly imperium 
all along 

(the celebrities have left us 
for their hideaways
ensconced in the Hamptons Malibu 
or their ranch god knows where) but 

here it’s 7pm and folks 
the Hasids the West Indians 
the Prospect Heights Park Slope moms 
millennials packed in foursomes
the old ladies locked in their shoes
man we’re out 
on the rooftops and 

I’ve never felt more like 
a New Yorker, singing 
the world cracked in 
a million pieces but 

we’re an archipelago of hope 
rescue boats drowned yes but 
still alive and the sky 
so big above 

(of course the oceans are still rising we’re 
hovering over the jaws of a greater death, 
panoptic species extinction and
the blue sphere we share muzzled, suffocating)

but at 7pm 
we are free 
we survived another day and
a new world feels possible

7
What is your favorite smell or taste in Brooklyn?

Summer days when the temperature reaches the 90s, the swollen humidity bursting into a thunderstorm. Then, the subsequent aroma of rain on pavement, that inimitable scent of succored asphalt and relief. 

8
What drink best reflects Brooklyn?

A classic Boulevardier (just a bit to the southeast of a Manhattan—another favorite of mine). 

9
What song or type of music best reflects Brooklyn?

A drummer friend (the brilliant, sculptural drummer Daniel Jodocy) of a friend, this fantastic, eclectic, top-shelf cat named Kenny Wollesen, leads a semi-spontaneous marching band that surfaces at parades and other happenings around the city, a joyous, un-orchestrated cacophony. I’m not sure if the marching band survived the battering tides of the pandemic, but I hope it’s still swinging. Daniel will know. 

10
If Heaven were Brooklyn, what would God say to a visitor when they arrive at the Pearly Gates?

The first thing god (or anyone from Brooklyn) would make clear is that there are no pearly gates. But good folk, a decent cocktail, and tasty victuals are a-plenty.

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