While born in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee-based artist has had his fair share of travels. The first-generation American grew up for a period in his father’s native Argentina and even spent some time living in London, where he finished this record. Those experiences seem to have left their mark, allowing the musician to toy with different inspirations and a level of comfort and freedom in the studio.
The full debut is evident of his varied adventures and multi-layered sound. It’s heavily rooted in a folk foundation with it’s steel guitars and inviting harmonies, but pulls psyche influences through fun and nostalgic keyboards and an eclectic imprint. Listen to the release below.
The six-track EP is a culmination of her diverse musical influence ranging from rap, hip-hop (heavily influencing “Fresh” and “Drop It” – even catching Princess Nokia’s attention with the rapper’s name drop) and countering with more rock/emo stylings (like with “Immortal,” produced by Immortal Girlfriend, a new take on that nostalgic angst you can find in almost any millennial’s 2007 iPod mini).
The past year was filled with growth and development for Zed, but in 2019, the rapper isn’t boxing herself in with any category and honing in on her manifold talent with confidence and tenacity.
Listen to “Baby Swag” below and be sure to catch her Friday at Company Brewing.
Monday at 9 p.m.
Minnesota: Dua Saleh “Sugar Mama”
Manitoba: Alpha Toshineza “WPG TRNST”
Wisconsin: Immortal Girlfriend – “Summer Dream”
Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Minnesota: The Bad Man “Operation Exhaustion”
Manitoba: Boogey the Beat ft. Snotty Nose Rez Kids – “The Sage is on Fire”
Wisconsin: Abbey Jean – “Pleasures Pain”
Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Minnesota: Lady Lark “Bad Thoughts”
Manitoba: The Silence Kit “Kitty Kitty”
Wisconsin: Zed Kenzo – “Go Pyscho”
Thursday at 9 p.m.
Minnesota: 26 Bats! “I’m OK”
Manitoba: Leaf Rapids – “Dear Sister”
Wisconsin: Telethon – “Ur Schedule”
Friday at 9 p.m.
Minnesota: Gully Boys “Neopet Graveyard”
Manitoba: Taylor Janzen – “Shouting Matches”
Wisconsin: Amanda Huff – “Gravetalking”
Where they’re from: Milwaukee, WI
Songs you’ve heard on 88Nine: “As Long As It’s A Secret”
RIYL: Jenny Lewis, fuzzy guitars, Field Report
“Surrounded Middle” EP release show April 18, 2019 at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., 7 p.m. Get more information and tickets here.
I was always singing and dancing as a kid. It wasn’t a conscious decision to run off and start singing. I watched a lot of musicals with my sisters and singing along to “Grease” tapes and making up choreographed dances and my sisters and I were also Irish dancers. My mom got us into piano lessons at a really young age. I was reading piano music for as long as I was reading regular words. Not that my piano/sight-reading skills speak to that today. I try not to dwell on it because there are other ways to express your skill musically than reading notes.
I started playing guitar when I was 12 or 13 because my dad and mom both play. My dad is left-handed so he taught me on my mom’s old nylon-stringed guitar from when she was 12. He taught me basic chords and riffs and that’s what I stuck with. It never occurred to me that I would be writing my own songs until college.
I feel like college is when a lot of musicians start writing original music, I wonder why that is…
It could be hormonal because of the certain age that you are. It could be a phase of experimentation…
When I started, writing was in correlation with my drug experimentation. I think you’re more willing to explore corners of your consciousness that maybe you didn’t even realize was inside you. You’re exposed to new people and you’re freaking out in a lot of ways.
When I was in college, I was really lonely and using my guitar as my buddy, for comfort. I would do covers to keep myself entertained and it gradually morphed. Once I started doing it, it became something instantly gratifying, maybe therapeutic.
I lose sleep over that. Thinking about those real youthful, formative years. Friends getting together and being terrible, but so excited about what they were doing. Playing with each other. If you do a consensus, a high majority of people encouraged to have that experience or who fell into it are definitely men. Meeting up in their parents’ basements or garages, playing really derivative and awful punk and metal, but whatever it was…
…it was an option. A lot of men I interview say they were encouraged by their parents at a young age.
That’s really interesting. When we’re that young, in middle school and stuff, you’re cool and you’re not a kid, but you are a kid in terms of instinct to play in your free time and play with one another. I really do feel like I missed out. Now, it’s not so playful anymore. It’s not getting together to play an imaginative game, we’re getting together to get something done.
Even if you boil it down to how many times I’ve been able to play guitar with someone else playing live drums with me, it’s not that much at all. Now that it’s my music and I’m accountable for everyone’s time, I don’t have people playing with me just to play. Part of that is definitely a choice. Maybe as a result of that gendered upbringing, I might even be hesitant to throw myself into an improvisational or playful scenario. It’s probably me holding myself back.
Not really. That was something I was really nervous to do. Like I said, I do not have an improvisational background at all. I didn’t have experiences where I would just get together to make noise with people and certainly not in a performance setting.
At least when it is understood to be that loosely formatted, there’s no such thing as a wrong note. I’m pretty good at flying by the seat of my pants, turning mistakes and wrong notes into happy accidents. I feel like that’s just what I did. Those guys are so good at it, they can adapt to those kinds of moments.
That was a weird thing for me to do. People weren’t paying attention, but were clearly enjoying the vibes, which took a lot of the pressure off. Also, I have this thing right now were I feel like, again, women might not have had their improvisational voices amplified that much over our recent history, and so when they do get on stage and improvise, it’s going to sound different. I think it’s important that we don’t hear what they are coming up with and thinking, “That’s wrong,” or, “It’s not good.” Rather, it’s a certain version of good I think needs to be amplified. [Members of Argopelter] Devin [Drobka], Chris [Porterfield] and Barry [Clark] are really good about being super open to just the sounds and impulses that come out of the soul of the person they are playing with in the moment.
Is that what led you to joining Field Report?
That was before I was integrated into Field Report for sure. That’s when we were all friends, but Chris was revving up to ask me to join that Eaux Claires performance and seeing how I would gel. It might have been a soft audition, honestly.
Rest assured, Astral Hand is still rooted in their crusading rock ‘n’ roll spirit. However, this new cosmic direction breathes rejuvenating life into the group and shifts the band’s highway-leaning psyche sound to a more out-of-this-world energy with synth-driven melodies and, as Kraemer explains, “a more focused writing approach.”
Plus, aside from the celestial resonance, the name Astral Hand is far easier to tackle than Calliope, which by the way is pronounced cah-LIE-oh-pee.
Listen to the debut track “Universe Machine” below from their upcoming album slated to release later this year. And be sure to catch Astral Hand’s debut show with Shogun and Tarek Sabbar at Company Brewing on April 26, 2019.
NAME HYMN is a collaborative project spearheaded by Nathaniel Heuer (Hello Death, Marielle Allschwang & The Visitations). All his runaway songs will find a conclusive expression with the help of featured artists. Heuer writes and records the majority of the instrumentation, but NAME HYMN also relies heavily on studio mate and co-founder of The Chair Company, Lawton Hall. Hall co-produces, records, mixes, performs and otherwise contributes to the project creatively and technically (including in the album art you see above). Heuer hopes to release four new tracks each year until all the lost ones are accounted for.
The first singles, “The Fall” and “The Years” are duets, featuring Rae Cassidy and Heuer on vocals. Rae Cassidy contributed not just her amazing vocal performance, but also her mind for harmonies, arrangement and deliberate emotional nuance. The songs will be available on all major streaming services within the week.
Recorded live last year in Steve Strupps’ (guitar/vocals) basement, Soda Road expands on its sound and pulled in some additional forces. Featuring vocals by Elisabeth Gasparka and Sarah Luther of Warhola Cats, the new perspective on “Arms/Station Wagon” is filled with zealous attitude without boasting apathy, but is instead understanding and principled.
And with lines like, “Get mad about something/be more of the fighting kind/don’t take no bull…,” the Spring release is the perfect swift kick for shedding the winter blues. Listen to the EP below.