Missoula singer Chloe Gendrow didn’t want to waste time recording her second album, after the 2017 release of “Glow,” her debut.
“Right after I finished ‘Glow’ I was tired of it because I had grown so much,” she said this week. “I still had so much left to say.”
She began writing for her follow-up “22 Below,” out April 12. Gendrow recorded all of “Glow” at Club Shmed studios, with Ryan Maynes, and returned to him to record first single “You.”
That song, along with a feature on Andrey Azizov’s “Feel Like,” made for a productive 2018 for Gendrow.
“Then (Maynes) just left town one day and I was like, ‘Oh, (expletive).’” Gendrow recalled. “I’ll figure it out.”
She saved up royalties to buy the same microphone she used at Club Shmed, and got a pop screen and preamp off Amazon.
“For a long time I didn’t even have a mic stand, I was just holding the mic in the corner of my bedroom,” she laughed.
Gendrow taught herself to use Logic recording software, which led to long days of recording that would give any experienced producer a migraine, she said, even though she tried to mimic Maynes’ process.
“That project was me getting my feet wet with production,” she said. “I only knew how to make like two kinds of beats.”
But self-recording gave Gendrow the independence she wanted as a songwriter, proud to call “22 Below” hers from start to finish. (Bits and pieces were outsourced, Gendrow said, when the production called for it).
Most songs start out on guitar or piano, Gendrow said, with her Notes app open with a list of lyric fragments. These singer-songwriter roots stand out, even after Gendrow’s production applies a modern pop/R&B sheen to the record, albeit with some new touches.
“I think people are pretty used to what ‘Chloe’ sounds like,” Gendrow said. “I feel like I’m getting closer to what my sound really is.”
That includes using more natural instruments, like acoustic guitar, drums or strings, which Gendrow sees as laying the groundwork for experiments in other genres like country or rock.
Gendrow purposefully stretched herself on “22 Below,” using home recording to incite experimentation, whether it was a vocal take she would be nervous about singing in front of others, to playing her first guitar solo on record.
“For a long time I had to rely on other people,” Gendrow said. “And that’s hard, to verbalize what I wanted it to sound like.
“It was really good for me to be forced to figure it out.”
That describes a lot of Gendrow’s career as a singer. She started writing songs when she was 11 and released her first EP just after graduating high school. She met a Los Angeles-based manager at the Montana Music Summit last fall, which has opened doors as well, from a gig in L.A. to getting connected with festival organizers.
Gendrow’s on the bill for Pilgrimage Music Festival this summer, a Tennessee festival with headliners like The Killers, Leon Bridges and Keith Urban.
“The reality of that still hasn’t hit me,” Gendrow said, remembering her grandmother being more excited about seeing Keith Urban when she told her about the booking.
She’s also on the Socotra festival lineup, which this year expanded to a more diverse pop-rap-R&B sound along with its core EDM music.
Gendrow performs live with DJ Megan McGowan and guitarist Brady Schwertfeger. She’d like to perform solo at some point, but is worried it will affect her vocal performance.
For now, Gendrow’s happy to release “22 Below” and see what the summer has in store.
“I’m reaching the ceiling of what I can do for myself,” she said. “Which is a hard pill to swallow.
“I’d like to keep it as independent for as long as possible.”