Gabriel Bernini is an LA-based singer-songwriter/power pop musician and Under the Counter alumni who’s received coverage from Ghettoblaster, If It’s Too Loud, The Music Mermaid, and B-Sides and Badlands. We asked Gabe about his upcoming album ‘Sweeties’ on Dadstache Records, his favorite artists, his musical history, his background in comedy, and more. We’re also fortunate to be able to share the latest music video and single from ‘Sweeties’: “Science Rat”:
COUNTERZINE: How ya doin’ today, Gabe?
Gabriel Bernini: Doing great! Just made a great bowl of rice and beans. Getting very excited and hopeful about Bernie Sanders’ campaign!
CZ: To those we’ve failed to properly promote you to in the past, tell the readers a little bit about Gabriel Bernini.
GB: I’m a songwriter from Northampton, Massachusetts currently living in LA. I started my solo project under my own name two years ago. I make all of my music on my own. I consider myself a very happy person and I think the reason is because I make this music. It’s a great pleasure of my life and I love to talk about it with people.
CZ: Our now bleeding out label branch actually released your albums Gabe’s Album and Record for Bailey on cassette last year, but your new album Sweeties will be out on Dadstache Records next month. How’s working with JT been?
GB: Working with JT has been fantastic! I would say it’s been very similar to Under the Counter in that it’s been stress free and rewarding!
CZ: In our minds, Gabe’s Album was Cute Gabe and Record for Bailey was Sultry Gabe. What Gabe can listeners expect to hear on Sweeties?
GB: I would maybe categorize Sweeties as the most sultry of all three records. If I had to categorize each one from my perspective I’d say Gabe’s Album was angry Gabe, Record for Bailey was somber Gabe, and Sweeties is moving on Gabe, excited for the future Gabe.
CZ: Sweeties releases on Valentine’s Day. Was this so you could give your cassette to a lucky lover in lieu of chocolate or an oversized stuffed bear?
GB: Sweeties comes out on Valentine’s for all the lucky lovers out there. Not one in particular but the general population of lovers and sweeties. I wish them all that energetic honeymoon phase feeling that inspired most of the songs on the record.
CZ: Normally we ask artists about who their influences are, but in this Northampton Open Media interview, you mention that you have no influences, saying “let me do my own thing, Lou Reed, he’s gonna keep on rockin’”. Could you elaborate on what you meant, and explain to us how freeing it is to be a truly pure, untarnished artist?
GB: I’m truly inspired by so many musicians. I’m attracted most to musicians who seem absolutely born to do what they’re doing. That’s the kind of music that makes you cry. You listen and you just know the artist was right where they were supposed to be, being themselves, being badass! Sometimes I’ll go months without hearing music like this and then one day find something and it’ll blow my mind all over again. Music is very powerful in that way. The latest music to give me that feeling are some Etta James recordings. What a badass.
CZ: We’re fortunate enough to be able to share your brand new music video for your latest Sweeties single, “Science Rat”. Could you tell us a little about this song?
GB: The song is from the perspective of a friend telling a friend what’s going to happen if they continue to see a person who’s playing with their heart. I love these kinds of advice songs, the greatest of all being The Beatles, “She Loves You”. “Science Rat” was an incredibly fun song to record. It was probably the hardest drum track on the record so I got to lots of takes, which was a great time. It ended up being hard to hear in the mix but the drums in the chorus have a bizarre kick pattern that took me forever to get right. I think there are also eight guitar tracks on there.
CZ: You also have quite a bit of work in comedy as part of Fools Be Known, a big part of which is this public access show, which is something of a contemporary of The Eric Andre Show.
GB: Fools Be Known was always a great way to meet and work with lots of different talented and funny people in my hometown. I was very lucky to have free access to the Northampton Community TV station and their many resources.
CZ: You were formerly a member of LuxDeluxe, as well as a touring keyboardist for Deer Tick. What were those experiences like?
GB: I played keyboards with LuxDeluxe and Deer Tick before starting my solo project. I’ve always enjoyed playing Clavinet in rock bands but I find it difficult to perform live from behind a keyboard. It’s much more fun to sing and play guitar. In general though, it’s always a pleasure to play with other great musicians with similar influences. We all love NRBQ.
CZ: Across all your shows, with your own band or otherwise, who were some of your favorite acts you played with?
GB: NRBQ, Sun Parade, Carinae, Sour Widows, King Radio.
CZ: Any crazy road stories?
GB: A close friend and an amazing songwriter, Elliot Hartmann Russell, made me a personalized record for my drive from MA to LA. It’s called Goodbye Gabe by Sweat Enzo and it’s one of the best records made last year. He left a cassette of it on my car on the morning I left after writing and recording it the day and night before. I listened to it at least twice a day for my whole trip. He’s a very inspiring musician and individual, I hope that someday he gets the artistic recognition he deserves.
CZ: Any plans to tour in the near future?
GB: Working on it as we speak!
CZ: When you are famous, will you still remember us?
GB: I have a great memory but I’m bad with names. So yes and no.
CZ: If there was just one thing you wanted everyone to know about Gabriel Bernini that hasn’t been covered, what would it be?
GB: I hope you get a chance to listen to my music. I’d love it to make its way into a period of your life. I hope it’s fun to drive to, or cook to, or maybe just close your eyes and listen to. If you like it, I’ll be excited to share more with you soon!
Gabriel Bernini’s ‘Sweeties’ releases on Dadstache cassette February 14, Valentine’s Day and is available to pre-order here. Be sure to follow Bernini on Instagram, Bandcamp, YouTube, and Spotify to keep up-to-date with the album and check out his past work.
(Featured photo credit: Ben Bradley-Gilbert)