If you caught PRETTYMUCH on tour in 2018, you saw the talented, rising musician, Gunnar Gehl take the stage to open for the band. Gehl, at only age 18 has accomplished a lot in his career. Having already open for a successful boy band, Gehl just released his debut single “For Your Love” and just recently released an acoustic version of the song. Gehl talked to ECHO about the song and writing it with Dan Wilson, who also worked on ADELE’s “Someone Like You.”
How has life been since we last officially talked?
It’s been good, a little bit slow in the sense of trying to regroup a little bit and trying to figure out what direction I’m going in. The PRETTYMUCH tour was so on the spot, almost last minute, so I have been kind of taking a minute and kind of regroup myself and figure out who I was as an artist and a person, just trying to really think about a lot of that stuff. It’s been an amazing last year, that’s for sure, written a catalog of music that I have ready to go a line up and we were starting the roll out and then this quarantine happened and yeah. It’s been good, it’s just been slow because I’m a little impatient and with this industry comes a lot of patience and so I’ve just been writing a lot of music.
I was thinking about that, some artists are still releasing music, but a lot of artists think it’s weird to release music, how do you think this is affecting the music industry?
I definitely think it’s taking a toll on the industry, streaming is actually down, I read an article that streaming is down a couple of points, which I thought about a lot and it makes sense, people listen to music as an escape and they listen to it on their way to school or on their way to work, while they’re with their friends and share it with their friends. For me, I listen to music when I’m at home or just hanging but a lot of people haven’t been and it’s weird so I know that’s taking a big toll on the industry, people are a little bit timid to release music because streaming is down a little bit, for someone like me I would love to just release, I mean honestly I would love to release a new song every single day if I could, I want to get my stuff out there sooner than later, but a part of it is, is the industry and the people involved, it’s a lot, people are really scared right now.
You released your new song “For Your Love” a month or two ago and Dan Wilson, who co-wrote ADELE’s “Someone Like You” helped work on the song with you. Talk about working with him.
I wrote that song at a camp out in Malibu, which is basically where I wrote all the songs for my first EP, that’s going to be coming out and we had producers, some of my favorite producer, the Mumford and Strangers and there were people that I’ve dreamed of working with my entire life and then we had writers coming in everyday and it was funny, he was one of the writers that came and this was probably the 6thor 7thday and we’ve been having writers all week and totally just in my creative mind space and all of a sudden Dan Wilson walks in and I was in the middle of a conversation, I was talking to someone and to be completely honest I had no idea he was coming or who he was, we ended up writing “For Your Love” and we wrote the first verse and the chorus and we wanted to go outside and write the second verse, it will help change our minds. We went outside, and I think I went inside to get a water and they were all laughing, and Dan said, “oh she thought she sounded squealy on it, I was like no you sound amazing” and how she wanted to lower the key, and I asked who they were talking about and he said ADELE and I was just mind boggled, like total shock. Steph from Monsters and Strangers looked at me and said that Dan wrote “Someone Like You” with ADELE and I was just like no way. The rest of the session I was just jaws dropped.
That must have been a total eye-opening experience for you, what did you take away from that writing session?
From Dan specifically, everyone writes songs differently and everyone collaborates differently, but Dan was really quiet, he really let me take a lot of the lead and let me run it for the most part and let me chime in when he had something important to say and it was. I think almost everything he suggested and said ended up being part of the record. There are songwriters who are very hands on and I’m very take the lead, I think it should be a certain way, he was just totally there and listened and helped me do what I want to do, which I really appreciated.
How have you musically changed since “Ocean Blue” and the PRETTYMUCH tour
That song I released for the tour that I was on, great song, love the song, wrote it with some amazing people, but at the end of the day, the difference between then and now is, I released that pre-maturely because of what was going on, having to release the music for a tour. When I took a step back and realized and started to dive into my artistry and figure out what my sound was, again I love “Ocean Blue,” but I think it’s more in the direction of really big kind of anthemic pop music that has really good story telling and that means a lot to me and a lot to people who are listening and a lot of purpose in the words, it’s big anthemic pop music and I think “Ocean Blue” was a little pre-mature to what I developed myself into.
You and Scooter Braun follow each other, is there anything in the works there?
Yeah so Scooter actually manages me with Troy, who has been with me since the PRETTYMUCH tour, so they both co-manage me. Scooter is awesome, he’s a really good guy, he wants to help me facilitate what I see in my career and that’s really all I can ask for.
You’re with your family during this quarantine but you’re also zooming frequently with fans, how is that going, what kind of made you start that idea and is there a funny story from the zoom experience?
Yes, and yes. What happened with zoom was when all this happened, I was doing Instagram lives and I was watching all my artist friends do lives, was watching Justin Bieber do lives and I was like damn, how do I make this more personal, a little more face to face, instead of seeing names and bringing people in to see one face, obviously when this quarantine happened I was seeing all these I started to see all these videos of zoom and I was just like, why don’t we just do a zoom? So, the funny story that comes with this, the first time I did it, I literally signed up and started the zoom and didn’t know how any of it worked, so we had 120 people the first time and with zero control of me muting people, with zero control of doing anything, 100 different people saying different things at one time, and then I would start to play music and it would get quiet but then you’d have one or two girls singing with me, but it was two seconds off, it was the most funny and chaotic experience, so finally I got help and figured out how to do it properly, but that’s my funny story.
What’s one thing you’re excited to do once this pandemic is over?
Well I want to get back to my normal routine, I really just want to start writing and getting back into sessions and releasing music more frequently, I want to perform, Will, to be honest. That is what I want the foundation of my career to be, just performing and being face to face, doing what I felt like I was put on Earth to do. This quarantine has been a real lesson for everyone and for me because it makes me really appreciate the little things, how significant the little moments of seeing fans after the show or doing meet ups, how much those mean to me, when I can’t have them.
What is something that you’ve picked up that you never thought you would until this quarantine started?
It’s so funny, I started flying this RC airplane, it sounds so random and it’s so funny, but I bought this RC airplane and I’ve been flying it and it’s what is keeping me entertained for at least two hours of the day. I’ve been starting new shows, I’ve been getting good at darts, believe it or not.
What shows have you been watching?
One of my fans put me onto All American, which I binged and finished in two days but to me that was ages ago Now, I started a show last night called Outer Banksjust came out in the last two days and I’m on episode two, and it’s pretty good.
With this new music, if could set up a fan in a setting for them to listen to your music, what setting would that be?
I think in their car, blasting it, windows half down, good energy. I think my music is what I imagined it to be like, which you could listen to it anywhere, of course that is the truth, but I think if I were to choose for someone to listen like if I said “Will, I’m going to send you the EP” and I want you to listen to it like this, I would say blasting it in your car because that’s where I listen to most music.
What is one quote you’ve heard in life that you want to ECHO out to the world?
Oh my gosh, I have too many quotes on my phone. My dad is wearing a shirt with a quote and it says, “Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.”
Listen to the acoustic version of “For Your Love” now!