Indie On The Rise: Notes From Vivace Interviews Singer-Songwriter Jessica Gerhardt


I recently crossed paths with Jessica Gerhardt for the first time at The Hi Hat. Throughout her set, I imagined myself being in an ancient enchanted forest, her music leading towards that hidden castle. Make sure to check out some of her Los Angeles hangouts.  

Q. What’s the story behind when you knew you wanted to be a musician? 

A. Well, I’ve been singing since I can remember and started writing songs when I was about 8 or 9. When I was around 14 or 15 I started playing ukulele and then it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I started performing my original songs in public at a high school open mic night. Even then I didn’t know I wanted to “be a musician”. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college when I felt this incredible sense of calling deep within, all of a sudden, like this voice saying “pursue music”. And I began to think of the gifts and talents I have and the people in my life who affirm them and are touched by my songs, and the opportunities that began to unfold and doors that began to open that I decided to walk down this path. It’s been a circuitous and deep journey so far, one that forces me to grow in trust.

Q. What’s your favorite song (own) and what makes it the favorite? 

A. Hmmm, my favorite song that I’ve written so far? Gosh, that’s hard. I really like playing “Whether To”. I enjoy all the chord changes in it, and I love playing the instrumental melody at the beginning and end of the song. And for me the lyrics are very authentic and vulnerable. It’s a song about the very real struggle to know how to love well, to know when to let go or when to hold on to hope, and when I struggle with letting go, to simply lift up that struggle to something bigger than me.

Q. Where are some of your favorite places to hang out at in Los Angeles? 

A. My favorite places in LA! Wow, well, I grew up in Santa Monica (but a lot of my childhood favorite places have gone out of business or been turned into condominiums around that part of town), and now I live on the Eastside, but there are still quite a few to name . . .  I won’t list ’em all,  but I’ll try to name my favorites:

·         Griffith Observatory (Griffith Park): I’m a huuuuuge astronomy nerd and I absolutely love going there and perusing the exhibits and watching the planetarium shows. I’ve gone there for public star parties, for the transit of Venus, and a number of other events.

·         Lake Shrine, the Self-Realization Center (Palisades) is one of my favorites. As a little girl I used to go there and feed the fish and swans and my imagination would run free with all the beautiful spaces to explore there.

·         Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels – it’s really just such a unique and sacred space.

·         The Santa Monica bluffs and pier: Just beautiful places for a scenic walk

·         Hikes: Stough Canyon (Burbank), Wisdom Tree (Hollywood), Temescal Canyon, Switzer Falls (La Canada)

·         Coffee Shops: Antigua Coffee House (Cypress Park), Kaldi (South Pasadena), Lavender & Honey (Pasadena), Jameson Brown (Pasadena), Penelope’s (La Canada), Constellation (La Canada), Urth Caffes

·         Eats: Porto’s, Grand Central Market (DTLA), Banh Oui (Hollywood), Celestino’s (Pasadena), Homegirl Cafe (DTLA), Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, Silverlake Ramen, Gyu-Kaku, Izzy’s Deli (Santa Monica), Pho 87 (Chinatown)

·         Drinks: Congregation Ale House, Golden Road Brewery, Oeno Vino Wine (Atwater), Urban Press Winery (Burbank), Edendale (Silverlake), Basin 141 (Montrose), Dog Haus, Der Wolfskopf (Pasadena)

·         Music Venues: The Hotel Cafe (Hollywood), The Hi Hat (Highland Park), The Bootleg (Filipinotown), The Greek Theater (Los Feliz), The Largo at Coronet (WeHo), Hollywood Bowl, McCabe’s Guitar Shop (Santa Monica), Bar Lubitsch (WeHo), The Satellite (Silverlake)

Q: Why the blue-green hair? 

A: I’ve had my hair this color for a few years, and it’s just something fun. I really liked how it’s called “mermaid hair,” because mermaids are my spirit animal. When I was a kid, I believed I could turn into a mermaid if I put salt in my bath, like Daryl Hannah in “Splash”, but when I tried, alas, my legs remained legs. I once had a friend dye my hair blue in 7th grade, and then when I went to wash it out in the shower, my whole body was dyed blue. I was a smurf for about a week. This particular iteration of blue hair has been less traumatic thankfully. I just have fun enjoying the mermaid vibes and blue is my favorite color. It kinda feels like it’s just become a part of me. But, who knows, maybe I’ll lop it off at some point or try out a different color.