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Quick Q+A: Irene Ruderman Clark + StoLyette

Much like a certain national political party or fans of GLOW, we’ve recently developed an intense love for Russians, thanks to the beautiful, sparse electronic music of StoLyette. The musical trio rework traditional Russian folk songs into emotional soundscapes full of click-pop percussion, heavy effects on the bass line, and singer Irene Ruderman Clark’s gripping vocals delivered in mother Russian. 

On Friday, StoLyette release their new album Summer, a project three years in the making that shows some subtle stylistic changes. It is a fantastic album—we have been listening to our copy over and over all week. The event includes a huge lineup of artists: Ryan Olcott (who produced the record), Devata Daun, and some of StoLyette’s label-mates from Totally Gross National Product, Invisible Boy and Andrew Broder. Before the show we sent some adoring questions over to Irene Ruderman Clark to hear more about it all.   

Secrets of the City: With yourself, Ben Clark (Pornonono, Votel, tiny deaths) and Mitch Miller (Beasthead, Sun Gods to Gamma Rays), is StoLyette basically a super group? Also how hard is it to schedule rehearsals?

Irene Ruderman Clark: Not supergroup at all. We feel really lucky to get to play music and be able to create songs that we like to listen to. One of our favorite things to do is practice, which is where we create new music and get better at what is already made, so we’re all usually excited for practice night. Maybe most importantly, we really like each other and like to hang out together, which is also very lucky.

With your live theater background, how much of the vocal delivery for StoLyette is a persona? It has this very beautiful personal—engaging, alluring, empathetic—character.

Thank you! My favorite thing in all the world has always been acting and pretending to live in another world. This feels different to me, because many of my lyrics and all of my intentions in the music are very personal and exposing (thankfully mostly in Russian, so not too much for English speaking audiences), so I can’t really hide behind a character and that makes me feel more uncomfortable. Overall, I still get to be theatrical and expressive, but in StoLyette, it’s definitely me on stage, not a persona—maybe a more dramatic and theatrical me, but still me.

What’s the songwriting process like for StoLyette? Is the rhythm line always first, followed by the other layers? With such a sparse sound, how do you know when a song is done?

Typically Ben starts with a loop and develops a musical theme. Then I come in vocally on top of that theme and we improvise. Then Mitch comes in to add fullness and clarity. We’ll record various improv sessions and Ben forms a structure to create an actual song with a beginning, middle and end. Meanwhile, I usually refine and create complete lyrics based on the improv sessions. And then, we come back together, play the song and geek out over how exciting it sounds to us. The last one we make is always our favorite, which is a pretty exciting place to be.

Your new single off of the new album Summer is a little more pop than we expected, but it’s fantastic. Are you all lightening up a little with a warm weather album?

Thank you! So glad you like it. Don’t worry, the words are still super dark. :) The rest of the album is the same mixture of dark nostalgic dance . . . or something.

What do you only work with producers named Ryan?

So far we’ve worked exclusively with Ryan Olcott on all three records. Ryan Olson is an old friend of Ben’s, supportive and always admired by us for numerous reasons, but he hasn’t worked on any of our music so far.

If we programmed a birthday party it would basically be the lineup for your release party, which is the collision of Ptych and Totally Gross National Product. On a scale of one to ten, how crazy is this show going to get?

Wow! I agree! You should do it, but add a lot! It’ll be incredible—I expect you to do it! As far as our show, I am so excited that we managed to secure such a stellar lineup. I will be there as a huge fan of all the other musicians and I can’t wait to be on the same stage as all these guys. I also can’t wait to share that unparalleled feeling when music fills the air and all of a sudden everyone in the room is connected on an illogical level. It all feels very special and important to me.

Catch StoLyette and the other incredible musicians at the Summer release show at First Avenue’s 7th St Entry on Friday at 8 PM. $7.


Last Chance Dance

July 27 | 5–10 pm
Walker Art Center


The last Terrace Thursdays party of the summer pays tribute to Merce Cunningham’s chance-based approach! Performances, skyline views, pop-up bars, and music by DJ Big Cats.

Performance: Paul Lazer’s Cage Shuffle
Featuring an electronic score mixed live by collaborator Lea Bertucci and choreography by Annie-B Parson.

Free Gallery Admission
Explore the galleries!

Music: DJ Big Cats
DJ Big Cats spins tunes all evening.

Art-Making: Costume Design
Mylar, spandex, dance leotards—we provide the materials, you provide the creativity.

Workshop: SuperGroup’s Barnes Dance
SuperGroup sets you up with moves to get down in a very unique, one-night- only dance.

Performance: John Mark Creative
Pop-up performances by John Mark Creative throughout the night.

Performance: DaNCEBUMS
A dance party like you’ve never seen before, this dance band is imbued with humor, groove, exertion,and extreme bliss.

Performance: Lea Bertucci
Lea mesmerizes audiences with a mixed-media sound that combines instruments, tape cassettes, and old school slide projectors.

Burger Hunter: Uncle Franky’s

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants, in fact more than the rest of us! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram and at @BurgerHunterUSA on the twitter.

At the end of the trendiest street (Quincy) in Twincy and just across the block sits a restaurant that thankfully is lost in time. In the era of swanky this and that with million dollar makeovers this place is historically kitschy and crushing it. Uncle Franky’s is a dog joint and I definitely suggest getting one but I went for the triple cheese burger with bacon. The menu is on a chalkboard which is always a good sign. Yup it is . . . I know you just thought about it. Let’s start with the bun, it’s regs but butter grilled and sized correctly. Burgers got some flavor. Gotta be the old flattop. You could put a cardboard box on that grill and it would taste good. FR. Seasoned hundo p. Guessing chuck but the pack is all the way firm. That cheese tho is the best part. I went to Swiss town and it was all over the place.  And thank you Uncle Franky for that. Onions are minced and on the bottom.  Bacon is fried and from mars. I didn’t understand it. Anywho, this burger is noteworthy and they have a great juicy so mark it down. Comes with some crinkle cut potato logs. Served piping hot! Also the MinneSoda fountain pop is a must. Sitting in this place really brings you to another era.  The ceiling fan. The smell. The chef yells out to you to double check your order. They even have a special of the day that’s under $5. When I got up I thought it would be farmland out those doors. Tasted good—felt amaze! 

Scorecard:   Flavor: 7.7   Presentation: 5   Originality: 7

Uncle Franky’s, 728 Broadway St NE, MPLS; unclefrankys.com

Quick Q+A: Pickles Kintaro + Al-Stravaganza

Weird, wacky, full of puns and light on clothing—how much can we possibly love this weekend’s Al-Stravaganza: A Burlesque Tribute to Weird Al!? Almost as much as the party’s performers, who will also be showcasing, in their own special and mostly nude ways, their own love of Mr. Yankovic and his music?

To get you in on the lovefest, and event at the Historic Mounds on Friday and Saturday, we checked in with Pickles Kintaro, the found and fearless leader of Tight & Nerdy—The First and Only All Weird Al Burlesque Troupe, who is co-producing the evening with performer Mona Montague. Here’s our collective adoration for all things Al.

Secrets of the City: What prompted Al-Stravaganza: A Burlesque Tribute to Weird Al!? Did you all just assume that it was already a thing because it makes so much sense?

Pickles Kintaro: Al-Stravaganza started in 2012 in San Francisco. From the moment I started performing I knew that all I wanted to do was produce an all Weird Al burlesque show. It just makes so much sense. Al’s music spans so many decades and so many different genres. There aren’t many artists with that kind of range. Add in the the comedic elements and this show just had to exist. I had known Mona for years and when I moved to Minnesota it one of the first conversations I had was about bringing the show to the Twin Cities.

For someone who maybe can’t picture what’s they’re going to see at the event, can you paint a somewhat safe-ish for work word picture for them?

We usually describe the show with these words: NUDITY, HILARITY, and DELI MEAT. It pretty much sums up what we are about. We have seen some of the acts dozens of times and they still make me laugh. And thanks to Bent Brewstillery, we will have Al-themed specialty cocktail.

How perfect of a venue is the Historic Mounds Theatre for the show?

It’s super perfect! We love the folks at the Mounds. We work closely with them to create an full experience. There are games, a costume contest, Friday we will have karaoke, and Saturday we will have a special screening. It’s more than just a show you watch, you get to participate.

How did some out-of-towners like Maggie Motorboat get involved?

This year we have two amazing out-of-towners. The Infamous Nina Nightshade co-produces our Portland show. She had so much fun last year that she came back . . . with a new act! Maggie Motorboat is a San Francisco delight! She performed in our show their last year. One of the nice things about touring is that we pick up performers along the way.

Are you going to post your own favorite Al moment? Ours is probably that he doesn’t age, which, if someone isn’t going to age, we want it to be Al.

He truly is timeless. My favorite moment was the very first time that I met him. He knows about the show and greeted me by name and with a huge hug. I cried.

Al-Stravaganza runs Friday and Saturday night at the Mounds Theater; some $20 GA and $35 VIP tickets are still left.

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