Freshen The Bev: So, FIRE… We sense a common theme, or a vibe, running throughout many of the tracks on the album. One of empowerment and self-love. Are we right there?
Amy Gerhartz: Absolutely.
FTB: Not too far off track?
AG: No, I think you’re right on. I mean, there are definitely a lot of songs about relationships, but this whole album came from a period of self-growth for me. So, a lot of the songs were written in this time of learning to be more empowered and to really speak my mind and to not hold back. Also, I wanted to experiment with sounds that I hadn’t done before, and a lot of that comes off as a little edgy and more empowering.
FTB: So, you’d say that it’s a little bit of a departure from what folks are used to hearing from you?
AG: Oh, absolutely. It isn’t that this album is a new version of me, it’s just a different side of me that I hadn’t really explored yet, musically.
FTB: Kind of a more evolved version of you?
AG: Yeah, slightly. I think some of it came from different production and some from growing as a writer.
FTB: How old are you?
FTB: And how old were you when you did your last album or EP?
AG: Oh gosh… Well, my first album was in 2004, then I did one in 2011, then 2013, and then an acoustic album in 2014. So, it’s been a few years since my last album.
FTB: Would it be reasonable to say that as you’ve grown and matured over time, so has your songwriting and your sound?
AG: Yeah, that’s a very accurate way to say it. I’ve always loved all different types of music. For a long time, I felt very comfortable in the acoustic/folk-pop/singer-songwriter realm/indie artist… I mean, I would still write pop songs and rock songs, but I didn’t know how to cohesively make them fit onto an album where everything you heard was very guitar, singer-songwriter stuff. It would’ve come out of left field if I had a 5 song EP, with 4 of the songs being sad and slow, and I had one really heavy rock song.
FTB: So, is FIRE more cohesive?
AG: It’s definitely edgier. I’m definitely exploring different sounds and I’m exploring a different side of me. I love pop music. I love rock music. I like music that has attitude. In the past, the albums I put out- they were good, but I don’t think they had songs that had that attitude to them. Or, if they did, I didn’t have the budget to produce them the way I wanted to produce them, for example my Acoustic Album. I think doing the fundraiser for this new album and having a bigger budget, and being able to hire guys that had a lot of experience in the pop music realm and in what’s current in the market, allowed me to unlock a sound, for me, that I hadn’t really explored before.
FTB: The title, FIRE.
FTB: Where’d that come from?
AG: It came from a song, Loving Myself, that’s on the album.
FTB: What’s the lyric in there?
AG: The lyric is, “I’m a fire you can’t put out.” I went back and forth on it. I wasn’t quite sure how to name this album. I had a bunch of different ideas laid out, but none of them really felt right. Then I started going through all my song lyrics and asking friends for suggestions. I mean, how the hell do you name an album? You know? My other albums- I have Acoustic Album, Volume 1 and 2. Those were easy names because they had nothing to do with the songs. Some people are very clever, like Adele. She has 19, 21, 25, and it makes sense. Now, people expect all of her albums to be numbered out, which is very cool. For me, nothing felt right and I didn’t want to do something cheesy. I was going through all these song lyrics, and I kind of wanted “Loving Myself” as a title, but not all the songs are about that. FIRE came from that song, though, and just made sense to me.
FTB: Do you have a favorite track?
AG: I don’t have a favorite track. I do have some that I like more than others, just based off of the experiences I went through in writing them.
FTB: What’s one of your preferred tracks?
AG: Definitely Loving Myself. It was a huge thing for me because it came from a place of really learning to be comfortable with me and the self-journey I’ve been on. Maybe (You’ve Won), also. I’ve always felt a very close connection to that one.
FTB: Why’s that one so personal for you?
AG: Basically, I wrote it by myself based on a breakup and a relationship that wasn’t going to work out.
FTB: Speaking of writing, tell us a little bit about your songwriting process.
AG: Seven out of the ten songs are co-writes. Either I brought the idea to the co-write session, someone else brought them in, or we created them together in the co-write. Like, Crazy For Me. I love that song. I wrote that with Michelle Pereira. She and I showed up in the room with no idea what we were going to write that day. We sat around talking about our lives for an hour and a half and then all of a sudden, this song evolved.
FTB: Was your part of writing Crazy For Me written about anyone in particular?
AG: (laughs) They’re all written about somebody. Of course.
FTB: And we’re guessing you’re not going to tell us who?
AG: No! Why would I ever do that? (laughs) I have to have some privacy. Heartbreak happened that same way. In fact, actually, Heartbreak was Sarah’s idea. So, I wrote Heartbreak with Sarah Williams and she showed up and she said that she only had a line about a little heart break. Originally, we started writing it as a faster song and then we both kind of agreed to try something different.
FTB: Who produced the album?
AG: Chip Johnson and Kit Karlson out of Alpine Red Studios.
FTB: Would you work with those guys again?
AG: Oh, absolutely.
FTB: Now, the co-write process… Are you going to continue doing that?
AG: Of course.
FTB: Do you have a preference whether you write solo or in a co-write?
AG: No, I don’t. When I was younger I wanted to write everything myself and I wanted to keep everything really close to me and I didn’t want anybody to touch it.
FTB: Why do you think that is?
AG: Selfishness. I don’t know.
AG: No, no, no. When you’re younger you’re still figuring out who you are. You’re still figuring out your sound and your message and there’s a fear that if you bring someone else in it’s going to change and it’s going to mess up your direction. Now, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that co-writing music with other people has helped me unlock ideas that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own.
FTB: Now you’re more comfortable in your own skin and you’re willing to be more collaborative with other people?
AG: Absolutely. More collaborative and more open to other people’s ideas. But, I still have ideas that I don’t want to share with other people because it’s almost a challenge to see if I can figure them out on my own.
FTB: Do you think that you might bring these ideas into future co-writes, if you haven’t figured them out by some point?
AG: Maybe. Maybe. It just depends. I’ve put songs away for years and then brought half written songs into co-writes and finished them up.
FTB: It sounds like the songwriting process can really mirror where you are in your life. As you get more comfortable and you learn yourself more, it shows. Not only in the words you write, but also in how you approach the projects.
AG: Yes, and I think that’s a universal thing. Everyone’s going to continue to grow and to learn in their lives- hopefully, if they’re open to growth and learning. The songs I write now are so much more thought out and so much more evolved versus the songs I wrote when I was 16 and didn’t have much life experience yet.
FTB: Do you think 60-year-old Amy will look back on 35-year-old Amy and see more evolution?
AG: Probably. Yeah, but that’s just life in general, isn’t it? We’re always looking back and thinking we thought we knew everything then, but we didn’t.
FTB: Now, you mentioned the song Crazy For Me that you sang with Tony Lucca. What was that like? How cool was that to sing with him?
AG: Oh my gosh. It was awesome. Tony’s amazing. He’s so, so good. I had some friends suggest that I should do a song with Tony, but I didn’t want to use him on just any song. I wanted it to be special. When I was writing Crazy For Me with Michelle and singing it, I always thought it would be really great as a duet. It was like, yep, that’s the song. So, I texted Tony and I was afraid he was going to say that he didn’t want to sing with me (laughs). But, he was awesome. I sent him the demo months and months before I even considered recording it on the album and asked if he’d be open to singing it. A couple months went by and when everything came together with my INDIEGOGO fundraiser I reached back out to him and said I’m definitely doing this and I definitely want you to be a part of it. He was so awesome. It was great.
FTB: Having been through that duet process, would you do another one?
AG: Of course. Absolutely.
FTB: One last thing… If there were one major takeaway that you’d want a listener to walk away from this album with, what would it be? What’s the main message?
AG: I’ve never really thought about that, actually… (long pause)
FTB: Damn, we’re good.
AG: Yeah (laughs). I think it’s two-fold. I think what I want people to take away in terms of me as an artist is to really recognize that I put together a cohesive collection of work that, for me, has no weak links. I want people to be able to see me in a different light and to see something empowering and strong. Also, unashamed. Like, I have some very adult content songs on this album. And I also have some great family friendly stuff on there.
FTB: Someone who listens to your album- what do you want them to feel?
AG: Connected. There are some happy songs, sad songs, empowering songs, and dance songs.
FTB: Kind of like life, then?
AG: Yeah, I want them to identify with it. I want them to listen to the album and to feel like they can identify with some of the words I say and the message I’ve shared.
FTB: If you were to pick one track from the album to release as a single, which one would it be?
AG: Either Loving Myself or Dangerous Game. I think they’re the most powerful ones. The one’s I’ve gotten the most feedback on.
FTB: Dangerous Game is hot!
AG: Dangerous Game is uh…it’s a sexy song!
FTB: It’s an adult song.
AG: It’s got some edge to it.
FTB: It’s got some undertones, overtones, and all kinds of tones on that one…
AG: (laughs) Of stuff, yeah. I think if you really listen to the words and the message in Dangerous Game, there’s definitely the self-acknowledgment of how stupid getting in a situation like that could be.
FTB: What about Loving Myself, track 2. What do you want to say about that?
AG: I think it’s a great song. I wrote that with Michelle Pereira and Sarah Williams. It really talks about fully learning how to be comfortable in your own skin and not allowing other people to determine how you feel about yourself and to get to place where you realize that we’re all different and we all have unique gifts and qualities and the minute we stop beating ourselves up for not being like someone else is the minute we really start enjoying life and really start learning that we’re perfect just the way we are.
FTB: We love, love, love that message. Any thoughts of doing a video for that song?
AG: Oh, absolutely. It’s coming. It’s coming soon.