A 21-year-old singer/songwriter hailing from Southern California, GUNNAR was just a kid when he discovered his life’s purpose: delivering the kind of electrifying live show that leaves the audience enraptured.
After getting his start playing guitar on a cherry-red Strat at the young age of seven. He began playing in a garage band and writing songs as a kid and years later set out on his first U.S. Tour, gaining a fast audience and the attention of pop mogul Scooter Braun who began managing him at age 16. But when Covid hit and touring ground to a halt, the L.A.-based musician found himself questioning his entire identity as an artist.
“I got thrown into the pop world as a kid, and none of the music I was making had my own vision in it,” says GUNNAR. “For a while I felt completely lost and disconnected from everything I’d done, to the point where I thought of quitting. But finally, I realized I had to let go of the past and create a new future and start making the music that I really love.”
Determined to unearth his true artistic voice, GUNNAR spent over a year collaborating with several of his friends from the L.A. music scene, eventually writing nearly 100 songs rooted in his explosive guitar work. When those demos caught the attention of Grammy Award-winning producer Brendan O’Brien (AC/DC, Pearl Jam, The Killers), GUNNAR headed into the studio to create his full-length debut, Best Mistake: an intimate yet wildly euphoric selection of songs, fully channelling the free-flowing energy and raw vitality of his live set for the first time ever.
Produced by O’Brien at the legendary Henson Recording Studios, Best Mistake encompasses a guitar-heavy sound echoing the eclectic mix of influences that form GUNNAR’s musical DNA (’90s alt-rock, mid-aughts garage rock, heartland singer/songwriters and classic country). “I wrote all these songs thinking about the live show and how to bring in those big musical moments and energy that make every night unforgettable,” he notes.
The album is loaded with combustible guitar solos, sing-along-ready choruses, and infinitely unpredictable rhythms—an element shaped with the help of co-producer Adam Friedman (Mike Posner, Tai Verdes, Capital Cities). “I’m very much inspired by the way that artists like Kendrick Lamar and Nine Inch Nails come up with drum sounds and beats that feel like nothing you’ve ever heard before,” says GUNNAR. “Through working with Adam we were able to take what we’d done live and build another layer onto that, so it ends up sounding like a record from tomorrow.”
With its ripped-from-real-life ruminations on love and lust and loss, Best Mistake matches its forward-thinking sonic palette with GUNNAR’s newly unbridled vocal presence. “In the past I was mostly focused on getting a clean pop vocal, but now it’s about being as expressive and authentically myself as possible,” he says. “Sometimes I’m yelling, sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes my voice will crack. I’m singing with way more feeling than I ever did before, because the songs mean so much more to me.”
On the album’s hypnotic lead single ‘Cinnamon’, GUNNAR’s vocals take on a soulful intensity made even more magnetic by his feverish guitar riffs. “It’s a song about losing control over somebody who’s just toying with you—but you can’t stop, because you’re addicted,” he says.
On ‘They Didn’t Tell Me’, gritty guitar tones form the backdrop to GUNNAR’s witty storytelling. “I wrote that after getting back from tour last year,” he reveals. “It’s about the experience of going to a city where a friend of mine lives and saying to them, ‘You told me all about this place, but you never told me about this one special person out in the crowd.’ It’s that moment of immediately connecting with someone and being gripped by their presence.”
Meanwhile, on ‘The Chase’, Best Mistake bursts into an impossibly energetic mood fuelled by the track’s dizzying rhythms and dexterous guitar work. “That song’s about loving the uncertainty of a relationship where nothing is easy,” says GUNNAR. “I loved the idea of flipping that on its head and making it a feel-good song instead of something angsty and dark.”
GUNNAR feels most at home when he’s onstage or out on the road. “I love the exchange of energy you feel with an audience when you’re deeply engaged in the music. You’re playing and the crowd is right there with you - you could be anywhere,” he says. And as he gears up for the release of Best Mistake, GUNNAR’s greatest thrill lies in sharing a body of work that truly reflects his lifelong passion.
“Starting from when I was a kid playing at bars at one in the afternoon, making music for people is the only thing that’s ever felt right,” he says. “Now that I’ve figured out how to create the music that really represents me, the live show is the best it’s ever been. I just want to keep playing as much as I can and leave 100 percent of myself out there every night, so that people feel like they’ve witnessed something they won’t ever see again.”