A.O. Gerber is a singer/songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles, California. She recently released the album titled Another Place To Need which is out now via Hand In Hive / Copper Mouth Records. It was produced by herself alongside fellow indie artist Madeline Kenney.
Recorded in various studios and houses across California and North Carolina from January 2017 to December 2019, it features Alex Oñate, Madison Megna, GG, Chris Pucher, Madeline Kenney, Noah Weinman, Sasami Ashworth, Haisem Khalfani, Marina Allen, Phil Hartunian, Philippe Bronchtein, Jacob Goldman, and Scott Brown.
According to Gerber : “To me, this record is about fantasy. It’s about fantasy and loneliness, and about how living in the fiction of your own head can make you lonely. It’s about the impossible struggle of trying to reach toward an intangible beauty and intimacy that lies just across the void.
It’s about the person you see looking back at you in the mirror, and who you want them to be. And it’s about the even greater divide between who you think you see and what may actually be true. It’s about your many selves’ – the one you are in public and the one you are at home; the “you” performing in front of a crowd, and the “you” alone in bed, worrying about the stupid things you said when you were out in the world.
It’s about the desire for intimacy, made complicated by the fact that you don’t really know how to offer it in return. It’s about how sometimes the worst pain is self-inflicted – devoting yourself to the idea of a person, not allowing yourself to see who they really are, even when they try to show you. And it’s about what exists on the other side of that devotion – the disillusionment and the bittersweet feeling of coming back to yourself.”
We asked her some questions about the new album, the artwork, the current situation and much more. Check it below.
Let’s start from the current situation. How are you living these strange times and what are the main concerns as an artist?
I’m doing okay. In some ways, being isolated is really easy for me, but in the larger context with all the fear that exists and the painful implications of this moment, it can be really hard. As an artist, of course I’m concerned about how long it might be before we’re able to return to live venues, which is where so much of the joy of making music happens. I really hope that live venues can make it through this and re-open when this time has passed (donate to the National Independent Venue Association if you can afford it!). This moment has highlighted and increased our dependence on social media as a platform for sharing “art” which I don’t think it can ever successfully be.
“Another Place to Need” is your first full-length. How was born the idea of the album and what was the path of the creative process?
It doesn’t feel like the idea for the album was ever really born, it sort of evolved. I started playing with a band in LA in 2018 and after a few months, we decided to record a batch of songs with a friend of mine. I didn’t know what we’d do with them. I kept writing, so we kept recording and all of the songs felt cohesive. The album sort of created itself.
Madeline Kenney co-produced the album. How was born this collaboration?
I met Madeline briefly when she was in LA on tour some years ago. We became acquaintances over the internet after that. Once I’d finished recording the first batch of songs that ended up on the record, I knew I wanted to work with someone to produce the next batch. I was also looking for a mixing engineer, and I thought that maybe they’d be the same person. I posted a story on Instagram asking if anyone had recommendations and Madeline replied with the name of the person who’d mixed her first couple records, Pat Jones. Once we got to talking about mixing etc., it dawned on me that the sort of qualities I was hoping a producer would bring to my songs were things that Madeline does so beautifully in her music. I asked her if she’d be interested in producing, fully expecting her to say “no,” but much to my happiness, she didn’t.
The artwork is very impressive and you also shared an animated video which “explores” it. How did you choose it?
Thank you! My friend Alexa Nikol Curran who shot and edited the album art is incredible. Madeline and I filmed the videos for “Strangers” and “In the Morning” back in 2018 when we were recording the rest of the record. I’ve always loved Renaissance art, so when we were coming up with mood boards for those videos, I kept referencing classical Renaissance portraiture and other images from that period for color and imagery. The more I looked at those images, the more I realized how symbolic they are of central themes in the record: fantasy, performance, romanticization.
About your latest single you said: “ ”Tell Me” was the last song I wrote for the record. It was scary to write – scary to write about masturbation as a woman, and even scarier to write about it in a tone that isn’t jocular and a context that isn’t very self-accepting.” Can you tell us more about the track?
I know I’m at fault for this in many ways, but it sort of bums me out that it’s become the “masturbation song.” Of course, that’s one element of the song, and for sure it’s the element that made it most terrifying to write and perform initially—but it’s not actually what the song is about. I wanted to write about the complexity of my relationship with my body, and that complexity manifests itself in so many domains—in my relationship with food, with technology, with the perceived gaze of others, with my sexuality, with myself. I tried to touch on all of that, however briefly, in that song. Self-pleasure ended up becoming the best metaphor for that complexity—for how you can experience longing and self-loathing simultaneously.
You are from Los Angeles. What do you like the most of your city?
I didn’t grow up here, but it does feel like home now. I love how many different cities exist here, how much opportunity there is to explore different faces of the same place.
Ritual question. Have you seen or heard anything good recently?
The label Mama Bird Recording Co. has been doing these “Coop-to-Coop” sessions where they pair their artists and do a YouTube livestream in which they go song for song and chat for an hour. I just watched one with my friend KERA and Ryan Oxford that was so beautiful and brought me a lot of joy.