Chloe Gendrow doesn’t really care what you think of her new album, “22 Below.”
She hopes you listen. She hopes you like it, connect with it. But your opinion of her music doesn’t matter like it used to.
She’s grown up - headed for college graduation in a few weeks. The last four years, she’s worked towards a business degree at UM while cobbling together multiple jobs on the side to support making music.
Her college experience is marked by the music she made and the projects she finished, not tests and grades.
The singer, songwriter and producer is making music for herself. Stepping into her own, and she promises this album, a sort of memoir of the lessons her 22 years imparted, is pure Chloe Gendrow.
The album is a book of lessons to the artist’s younger self, things she’s learned that she wished she knew years ago. “Being a human being is a unique experience, but it is also not,” Gendrow said.
She would like listeners to find a bit of themselves in her songs. “22 Below” deals with universal experiences such as heartbreak and regret. The album promises Gendrow’s cathartic lyrics laid over self-produced tracks.
Gendrow didn’t grow up in a musical family. Her parents pushed her to go to school despite her desire to go straight into music. Missoula, her hometown, supports the arts but isn’t a hub for performers like L.A.
“I needed to go to college almost to realize how much more I wanted to do music, at the end of it,” she said.
She picked business for its flexibility and the knowledge it would give her to become a full-time artist. “I am a musician. I am the business,” Gendrow said.
She spent most of college pushing through classes to spend time on music. Gendrow released an EP her freshman year that now makes her wince. It was followed by her first performance at the Badlander. “Glow” (her debut album) dropped junior year, and she performed at the Top Hat, a huge step for an artist who spent most of her performing at open mics and on YouTube.
“Glow” was Gendrow’s introduction to the world. After its release, an East Coast DJ, Andrey Azizov, contacted her to collaborate on a song with him. Gendrow liked the track he sent her and wrote and recorded vocals almost immediately. “Feel Like” blew up – almost one million plays in a month. Presently, it has nearly surpassed eight million.
“I had never seen numbers like that in my life. I am a little nobody from Missoula,” she said.
Riding success, Gendrow started working on her latest, “22 Below,” after a five-day river trip this past summer. The album is completely produced by Gendrow. She learned how to use sound software during the “Glow” sessions. “I don’t like asking other people for help,” she said, “and I don’t like needing other people’s help for things.”
The artist has evolved into who she wants to be – no more acoustic rap covers. Though she doesn’t plan on leaving Missoula anytime soon, despite an old dream of moving to L.A., big cities would drain her motivation, and she is happy staying home to create music in her bedroom.
“There is also something inspiring about being lonely and being alone in a place where it’s not skyscrapers and everyone's trying to make it and get ahead,” Gendrow said.
Her success from Missoula recently landed her a spot in a music festival in Nashville, Tennessee, proving yet again that being in a big city will not define Gendrow’s reach as an artist.
“I just feel so free to be able to chase whatever I want here, and I don’t feel like I need to go anywhere for that,” Gendrow said.
Chloe Gendrow will have a free album release performance on Friday, April 12, at the Top Hat starting at 10:15 p.m.