For Au Gres, not every problem requires an immediate solution.
Instead, the Fenton indie pop singer-songwriter finds instant relief in uncertainty on his latest introspective, self-comfort single, “At Home in the Dark,” which dropped Feb. 26 via all streaming platforms.
“I hope this song might encourage others to be more present with each other during hard times, though not necessarily in the physical sense, pandemic and all. I wrote it specifically about someone dealing with depression, but I think it applies to much more than that,” said Josh Kemp, aka Au Gres.
“These moments don’t always call for ‘solutions.’ Sometimes the best thing to do for someone is just let them know you’re available to talk and reassure them that they aren’t ‘broken.’”
Au Gres beautifully provides a sense of solace as ascending, sheeny synths, thoughtful electric guitar, delicate drums and soft bass surround listeners while they’re feeling “At Home in the Dark.” Kemp reveals, “I wanna be there when it rains/I wanna know you on your bad days, baby/I wanna be there when you start/To think the wrong things in the right time frame.”
“So much of this track is inspired by my experience with depression (i.e., the dark). I’ve had moments in my life where I really needed someone to help me feel less alone. I’ve also been the one to do that for others,” said Kemp, who’s inspired by Passion Pit, Phoenix and The Smashing Pumpkins.
“The thing about depression is that it’s usually episodic, and when you’re in it, you usually don’t want or need to hear solutions. Sometimes the best thing to do for someone is just sit with them while they’re in it. Bringing over a cheap bottle of wine often helps, too.”
To create his soothing “At Home in the Dark” neutral zone, Kemp collaborated with a talented cast of Michigan and Ohio musicians, including Noah de Leon (guitar, synth), Brodie Glaza (drums), producer Jake Rye (bass) and Darity’s Linsley Hartenstein (piano), at Social Recording Company in Adrian.
The quintet safely gathered inside the studio to record parts of the track, but also relied on additional remote collaboration sessions to finalize it.
“I think the initial write was about 20 minutes. I spent much more time refining things, but had the bones of the thing together fairly quickly. I was happy to work on this one with all of the same guys again and with the welcomed addition of my girlfriend Linsley on piano,” Kemp said.
“A lot of the arrangement was put together remotely at Noah’s home studio. I think his contributions were the most significant – the vocal stacks in the chorus and the guitar solo in the outro.”
In October, Kemp dropped his warm, dreamy debut single, “Nervous,” which serves as the ideal romantic icebreaker that puts apprehensive partners at ease. Kemp also teamed up with de Leon, Rye and Glaza for that melodic, soaring anthem at Social Recording Company.
Before becoming Au Gres, Kemp discovered a love of playing music after watching “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” with several friends. At age 17, he bought an acoustic guitar and later inherited his older brother’s Squier Strat to study up on power chords.
With a guitar in hand, Kemp played in the punk band Copneconic until 2014 and decided to pursue music with more of an indie rock feel. That passion led to an indie rock band with other friends for two years, but Kemp opted to pursue a solo project as Au Gres instead.
As Au Gres, Kemp casts his creative vision while partnering with a core group of musicians and including others as part of an evolving artistic collective. After releasing two mesmerizing singles, Kemp plans to share additional indie pop gems later this year.
“I think the songs I have written since have been some of my very best, and I can’t wait to see how they come together by then. I’m currently finishing up a batch of brand new songs and will soon be ready to book more studio time. It’s also very likely we’ll be doing some livestream shows soon,” he said.