COMMUNITY MUSIC SPOTLIGHT: David Gerald
by Charlie Dulik on October 4, 2017
Posted in: Folk
WRMC’s Community Music Spotlight is an ongoing series, profiling new projects by artists/bands from the Middlebury and greater Addison County community. If you are a local band/artist, or know one with a new project we should write about, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Any student that works with Assistant Director of Student Activities Dave Kloepfer knows that he’s one of the kindest, most supportive, and most soft-spoken people on campus. They might not, however, know about his musical side. As frontman of Crazyhearse, Kloepfer rocked WRMC’s 2015 S.O.S. Fest (even playing a mean cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”). Fast forward to this fall, when he’s just dropped his first solo album, the self-titled David Gerald. From contemplative folk love songs to political alt-country romps to spooky, Pink Floyd-esque trips, Kloepfer shows off a deep musical and lyrical range. WRMC sat down with him to talk alter egos, social justice, and creepy memes:
The first obvious question is: how did your artistic process change from being in a band to a solo project? I imagine that’s kind of intimidating.
It sure is. Especially when I think about performing live, I definitely miss having other people on stage with me. Even when I do solo performances, any chance I get to pull in extra musicians to help with that, that’s fun. The process for writing doesn’t change though, I’ve done all of the writing for any full band experience that I’ve had before, with Crazyhearse and whatnot.
What do you think the biggest surprise on this album is for people from the college who know you as Dave, the Student Activities guy?
It’s interesting how much attention this is getting. I feel like it’s maybe the timing of the release, being right at the start of the semester, but I feel like a lot of people have heard about it, for one reason or another. I think it’s taking those by surprise who haven’t ever realized that I do play, I do have a persona that you wouldn’t recognize.
I’ve seen you with some aviators on stage. That’s rock’n’roll Dave!
Rock’n’roll Dave, he’s there. I think I have to suppress him a little bit in the office.
That’s probably for the best. On the album, so many of the songs are flipping the script on how you normally talk about that subject matter, like there’s a lot of songs about love that are really sad, and probably the most outright joyful song on the album is about breaking out of prison. What attracted you to that type of flipped narrative?
To speak to the first part, I’ve always wanted to write a good love song, but for me it’s difficult and embarrassing, so I think I always will add a juxtaposition of a different type of mood in there. Something like “Dannemora,” the prison-break song, which is based on the actual event that happened here in 2015 in northern New York state, I’m really comfortable writing storytelling, funny songs, so even though it’s kind of a dark subject matter, I think I’ll always have a playful melody and timbre.
In a lot of ways I felt like the heart of the album was political or social commentary, somewhat on “Dannemora,” but 100% on “White Noise” and “Good Samaritan,” but then you also have these songs about love and life stuff. Can you talk about where the personal meets the political in your art?
I’m not a very big political voice in general, but I feel like music and songwriting is one place where I can comfortably address issues of social justice, really getting out some of my thoughts that I don’t normally have an opportunity to in conversation.
What I had hoped for a solo album was that it wouldn’t be all jokes. I wanted to have more of a serious attempt of subject matter and content.
I think “White Noise” has become my favorite song on the album… once it clicked for me, the commentary you were making, it was like, wow, this is really poetic writing about some pretty scary stuff.
I’m proud of that song. White noise is also the static that you hear from an old analog television when it’s not working… and then of course it could be more directly interpreted to be talking about white privilege. It’s really current.
I know, I don’t know if other people do, that you’re an Addison County boy through and through.
Sort of. I grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York and moved here in high school, so I spent some time in Middlebury then. Didn’t love it, did everything I could to get out. And I did, I went to California and Boston… then after Boston I had some friends still up here and came back and was like, “I actually do like it here as an adult.” As an adolescent, an emerging adult, it’s a tough place to be. I wasn’t connected to the college community at all during that time, and I think the town is much smaller without that. It feels like a bigger place now.
Pictured: Young rock’n’roll Dave.
I’m curious how someone who has traveled so much, specifically if you feel like the Vermont landscape influenced this album at all.
Sure, I do like the Americana genre of music, which for the most part is very southern and rural. And so I think the closest thing I can actually firsthand claim to have that experience with is my Vermont side. The more rural, local aspects of my Vermont experience can definitely come out and help me authentically claim that genre.
That actually segues into my last question: given how many of these songs draw on classic Americana, folk imagery… where does the song about Slender Man, who’s a creepy internet figure, fit into that whole world?
That’s a funny story. My friend in Boston, he’s a production assistant for a lot of films that are made down in that area, and there was a Slender Man movie being made. I actually just made that for the film – it didn’t get put in it, but I was trying. I thought it should go on the solo album, just because.
Slender Man is a really dark meme. It really was just for a movie
I felt like similar to “White Noise,” it’s a very current update on the older imagery of the genre. Slender Man kind of has ingrained itself into a type of new American story. That’s also the one your voice is creepiest on.
You can find Dave’s music on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music.