A songwriter with an ear for velveteen melodies that soundtrack fantasies of escape and personal growth
A.O. Gerber is a songwriter born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, but now based in Los Angeles, where she has nestled herself in the city’s vibrant indie world. Today she is sharing her new single “In The Morning” and announcing her debut album Another Place To Need, which comes out on May 22 via Hand in Hive / Copper Mouth Records.
Another Place To Need is the result of several years of work, following Gerber’s decision to divert her life from the path of academia she had been on previously (studying Italian and Art History at college). She moved to Los Angeles, and what had previously been a hobby became her focus and determination.
For the three years that the record was in the works, she basically travelled with her personal studio: “I brought my rig everywhere: to friend’s houses, to my parent’s house in Oregon, to friend’s parent’s houses,” she recalls. “It was a cumbersome and long process.” Fortunately, she had built up a network of people to help her out, including her core band of Alex Oñate on drums, Danny Campos on bass, Chris Pucher on guitar and GG on backing vocals/guitar. She also called upon the likes of producer Madeline Kenney, old BPM favourite Philippe Bronchtein (aka Hip Hatchet), Sasami Ashworth and many more, with whom she brought these gorgeously personal songs to fruition.
“To me, this record is about fantasy,” Gerber says. “It’s about fantasy and loneliness, and about how living in the fiction of your own head can make you lonely.” This is just one of the golden thematic threads that underlines her music, but is the one that connects most instantly with the listener.
It can be heard in new single “In The Morning”, a song written freshly in the wake of a traumatic break-up, while she was escaping the city to go on her first solo tour. She begins the song with plaintive reflections over simple guitar, but soon there emerges a beat that reflects her growing self-possession. The song then explodes into the fierce never-say-die statement of confidence, with a guitar crunch and soft-edged horns that give muscle to her mood rather than overwhelm it.
Even with this regal backdrop, Gerber’s pain and determination stay at the forefront, the singer always in the spotlight, pushing to better herself. “It’s about the person you see looking back at you in the mirror, and who you want them to be,” Gerbar adds about the album, and that comes shining out of “In The Morning”.
A lot of Another Place To Need was co-produced with Madeline Kenney, and together they’ve created layers of texture that expertly balance sounds of pain, vulnerability and euphoria. Gerber has revealed that another driving force of the record is “the impossible struggle of trying to reach toward an intangible beauty and intimacy that lies just across the void”, and these delicately bold arrangements really bring this abstract-yet-intense desire home.
This theme of striving for perfection is one that’s deeply personal to Gerber, but is something that everyone is grasping for in their own unique way — and Another Place To Need has a lightness of touch that melds guitar, synths, horns and layers of voice into something utterly empathetic. Its musical and emotional openness gives listeners a generous breadth of hews and feelings that they can arrange into something that connects deeply with them, whether it’s pain, independence, yearning or escape.
This is Gerber’s main hope for Another Place To Need: “I always hope people see themselves in the music I make, and that it can let people feel less alone or more connected. Ironically, even though this record is very much about how lonely it can be when you try to escape reality; music can be the most beautiful escape, and a huge antidote to loneliness.”
Another Place To Need is out on May 22 via Hand in Hive / Copper Mouth Records (pre-order here).