INTERVIEW: Gunnar Gehl

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WRITTEN BY: Caitlin McGeehan

At 19 years old, Gunnar Gehl has already released an EP that’s begging to be played to live crowds. One Second of One Day was released last month, and shows the range of the California native’s vocals and songwriting. He contrasts a feel-good sound with intensely personal lyrics throughout the EP, which is an addictive combination. 

He’s also been keeping busy with his One Second of One Day livestream campaign with WE Well-being that recently wrapped up. The streams allowed for live versions of a few of the new songs, performances from his artist friends, and conversations on mental health. WHIP Radio spoke with Gunnar Gehl about the his One Second of One Day campaign and EP, and of course, his best memories from playing shows (which we’re all missing right now).

Caitlin McGeehan: What has been your journey with music from the beginning until now?

Gunnar Gehl: It’s definitely been a rollercoaster. It’s been a crazy two years from when everything really launched after the tour I did back in 2018… I think the most honest thing I can say about the last two years is A LOT OF SONGWRITING. I’m definitely ready, and just wrote the majority of my debut album. So that will be coming as soon as soon COVID-19 allows!!

CM: Which song on your latest EP, One Second of One Day was the most difficult to complete?

GG:  I’ve had “Missing Someone” in my back pocket for almost two years now, so it’s the oldest on the project. But I think the song that physically took the longest to make was probably “Pleasure & Pain” just because I recut the song so many times trying to make sure it was perfect.

CM: For a first-time listener, which Gunnar Gehl track is a must-listen?

GG: I think “Good Enough” and “Lose Myself” give a really good picture of who I am right now. But I am excited about the level of music coming in 2021!

CM: A lot of your songs are upbeat, but the lyrics are more revealing and vulnerable, especially in the track “Pleasure & Pain.” What inspires you to create this contrast?

GG: I think songwriting is so cool because you can write darker/deeper lyrics that don’t necessarily trap the energy of the song. I love songs that make me feel things… and for this project keeping the state of the world in mind, I wanted to release songs that feel good, but also mean a lot and have a lot of truth to them. So the contrast I guess happens naturally but it just feels right as its created. 

CM: I have to admit, I did a little stalking of your “Gunnar’s Favs” playlist on your Spotify page, and I definitely hear how those songs have influenced the vibe of your EP. Do you always listen to music with the intent for it to influence your own sound?

GG: Oooh thank you!! And I would say yeah, for sure, songs that I love are going to influence how I write music. I think keeping roots in music is really important, but also current music is constantly evolving. So, knowing what people are loving right now makes me even more motivated to find a sound that me, and everyone else loves.

CM: You recently finished your One Second of One Day campaign with livestream performances and discussions about mental health with other artists such as Andrea Russett and Nessa Barrett. What led you to create this series? What did you learn and hope your fans learn from these conversations?

GG: I wanted to start this series for two main reasons… One was because of how much I missed real live performing. For the first few months of quarantine I was doing the acoustic performances like everyone else, but real performing is what I think makes me stand out, and i wanted to figure out how to do it again (however we could with the time being). The second reason I wanted to start OSOD was because of how many of us were struggling with things we had never struggled with mentally because of COVID-19. I wanted to give people an outlet to hear from people they look up to, hear that these feelings and emotions are normal and that everyone (no matter how perfect it looks from the outside) goes through the same things.

CM: We’re all living on memories from our favorite concerts right now. So looking back, what is your favorite memory from playing shows? 

GG: Wow, great question. I miss the energy. I miss the rooms, the people, the smiles and singing. I miss the roars, the screams… the hugs, the tears. To be honest there isn’t a thing about concerts that I DON’T miss. My favorite memory from my show was the stool jump. Basically every show I would jump off a wobbly stool, and it ALWAYS freaked me out because I was worried I was going to fall one time.

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