Northern Virginia singer-songwriter Bobbie Allen became Young Summer serendipitously. Weather had delayed Andrew Belle, the artist she would be opening for with Nashville-based performer Trent Dabbs. So Allen and Dabbs had some time to talk, and to perform together, forging a partnership that would become the basis for Young Summer, a project Allen says gets her closer to the music she wants to make than she’d been performing under her given name.
After their impromptu jam session, Allen traveled to Nashville to write with Dabbs. They developed enough material to release an EP earlier this month, the debut of which will be celebrated with a show Friday night at Jammin’ Java. But the music the pair made was unlike what Allen made on her own. Her singer-songwriter stylings and alto voice were still there, but instead of being driven by the sound of an acoustic guitar, they were propelled by synths into indie-pop territory.
Working with Dabbs gave her new opportunities to shape her music. She had tools at her disposal that let her make the sounds she wanted to make. She could use synthesizers to call upon the tracks from the ’80s she grew up listening to.
“It was like, yes, this is how I’ve always wanted to sound but didn’t know how to translate it. It’s insane how much I’m in love with the music on the record I just released,” Allen said. “It just so much more has my fingerprint.”
It’s ironic that writing with a collaborator and setting aside her own name has brought her closer to the music she’s always wished she could produce, and Allen hasn’t quite solved that mystery. But she feels that she can be more creative now when she expresses herself, likening the new moniker to a kind of armor.
“As Young Summer, I’m allowed to do more,” Allen said, “and I’m allowed to start over in a sense.”
She hopes to make more music as Young Summer, possibly an LP, but this new identity is not a resting point for Allen. This isn’t the moment where everything comes together and she gets to be the artist she’s always wanted to be. To Allen, Young Summer is a stop on a constant journey to discover her music.
“You’re doing something wrong if you’re not always changing and growing and learning, and I feel like the more I write and experiment, the more I’m finding my sound,” Allen said. “So it’s still evolving. It’s just been so wonderful. It’s been one of the most fun experiences – and it continues to be – of my entire life. It’s really exciting.”
• For more information about Young Summer, visit youngsummermusic.com.