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.
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.
Regular Readers know we want Northern Spark, the all night art festival that runs the length of the Green Line and focuses this year on our upcoming climate chaos, to be a significant and ongoing part of our summer Arts & Culture scene. There’s a ton of exciting programming that includes installations, art, food, and more, happening this Saturday night—and it’s all free!
One of the big reasons that the festival stays free is the ticketed Launch Party to kick off the night. The party includes drinks, an amazing roster of food, and music from Zuluzuluu. We sent some questions to NS Launch Party Coordinator Emily Janisch to get us and you pumped up for the Launch Party.
Secrets of the City: The food is such a great party of the launch party and definitely worth the price bump in our opinion. Do you know who/what you’re having?
Emily Janisch: Mercy // Cafe Alma // Eastside // Red Stag Supperclub // French Meadow // Handsome Hog // Silhouette Bakery & Bistro // Cafe Latté // Fulton Brewing // Crooked Water Spirits // Barefoot Bubbly // Sociable Cider Werks // Peace Coffee
I know there will chocolate cake from Cafe Latte, there will be salmon rillettes from Red Stag, and Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and Brioche from Alma. And the specialty cocktail exclusive to the evening and event is the Spark 75, details viewable here.
This year has another packed lineup that’s literally down the line. Do you have any personal favorites for the stops for Northern Spark? (Besides Mekong Night Market?)
Awesome, yes! Local Somali artist extraordinaire Ifrah Mansour’s My Aqal where people are invited to built a traditional Somali home together; Alien Technology II by Monira Al Qadiri (presented by Mizna and The Soap Factory)—this huge sculpture is of an oil drill bit, do you know how fascinating these drill bits actually look? Definitely alien.; and Sami Pfeffer’s Phone Valet— check your phone as you would your car and explore with REAL technology like film cameras and maps
Other than attend the Launch Party, what pro tips do you have for staying awake all night at NS?
Make it a goal to see 3 projects in each of our 7 zones along the Green Line and the sun will have risen before you know it. Just keep exploring because you will stay engaged! Also, Peace Coffee at the Launch Party 😉
Do you feel like Donald Trump was personally out to get you and Northern Spark when he backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement?
I think he made the festival that much more relevant and now everyone is even more focused on coming together in harmony for a cause. Climate Chaos, People Rising!
Anything else we should mention besides Zuluzuluu?
That this is Northern Spark’s only fundraiser of the entire year, which keeps the festival FREE!
Northern Spark runs throughout Saturday night. The Launch Party goes from 7-9 PM at Thresher Square and leads right into the evening. Tickets at different support points still available.
Of all the histories of not-that-long-ago local music, we’re maybe most excited for Cyn Collins‘ Complicated Fun: The Birth of Minneapolis Punk And Indie Rock, 1974-1984 thanks to both its subject matter near and dear to our hearts. Quotes like this one from award winning author Marlon James are also an easy sell: “Complicated Fun is a great rock book that works the same way as a great rock song. Find the right voices, lead with a riff, spit some truth, then watch everything explode. The result? Punk messing with punk, and birthing indie rock.” Count us in.
And since you can’t have a book release on local punk and indie rock without the punk and indie rock, Collins will be joined on Friday at the Hook & Ladder by the Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’s, Curtiss A and the Dark Click, and others firebrands from that era.
We have a debate raging in our office about the context for this book. Some say you’re making a great case for the MPLS + STPL punk and indie rock as a wave of Post-Boomerism (without the Boomers?), but others say it’s the glory days of the Gen Xers (but somehow too early?). Which is it?
I’d say the context is a little of both, yet more the former—a wave of post-boomers (without the boomers) as most of the foundational musicians and fans were in their late teens, early 20s when they were performing at/going to the Longhorn starting in 1977. They were rejecting mainstream music and culture and generating their own new revolutionary music scene, which would inspire the Generation X to attend shows and form their own bands.
How long have you been developing this book? Is it a natural extension of your deep connection to the local music scene?
I began developing this book about 6 years ago when I produced a KFAI/Ampers radio documentary on this subject. The book idea originated before then, and from that research and those interviews. I devoted most of my time researching and writing it since The Minnesota Historical Society Press accepted my proposal in Spring of 2015. Yes, indeed it is a natural extension of my deep connection to the local music scene! I’m very inspired to share musicians stories with audiences.
Were the bars back at this time just cooler than our bars now? They sound like it.
Some of the interviewees note the bars then were cooler than our bars now. They note things like it was a small number of the same people (couple hundred) who went to the Longhorn every night, you’d see your friends there, who were also outside of the norm. There was a camaraderie, and they were there for the music, too.
We love the book readings matched up with shows, like Friday’s set at Hook & Ladder with Curtiss A & Dark Click and Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’s and the past reading at Electric Fetus with Kevin Cole and Flamingo. How much of you doing the book was for the release shows?
I’d say doing the book for the release shows, was part of it, hoping to celebrate the great artists who shared stories, many whom are still performing to this day and releasing new records this spring and summer, such as the Suicide Commandos and the Suburbs. I enjoy organizing these shows in relation to the book and possibly increasing interest and awareness of the foundation of our great music scene and these fantastic artists who deserve more recognition for their music.
How underrated is KFAI? We listen to it all the time.
We will be 40 years old next year! We have a large number of devoted member listeners and continue to reach new listeners, who love us and support us by becoming members as well! People who appreciate a vast range of great music in all genres curated by knowledgeable DJ’s listen to us. People who haven’t, are missing lots of cool music and guests you would rarely, if ever, hear anywhere else. You can hear us streaming live at kfai.org or 90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 FM St. Paul.
Minnesota-based singer/songwriter/producer Corey Palmer, who local music fans know from his days fronting These Modern Socks and Daykit, has had a busy few years. Along with taking a break from songwriting to focus on his new family, he was also involved in a serious car accident in 2014 and has on-going battles with depression. But in spite of, or maybe thanks to, the amount of life he’s dealt with recently, Palmer is back to music in a big way—he’s releasing a new single “Heartache” that’s a little longer than an average track at an audacious 24-minutes. That’s like two EPs!
We’ve been spending a lot of the week listening to the poppy, hook-filled, well polished monster track, and it has us fired up for Palmer’s live debut of the single with a notable backing band and Peter Wolf Crier as openers at Icehouse on Saturday. Before that, though, we sent him some Quick Questions to get some more background.
Secrets of the City: What’s had a bigger impact on your music, your near-fatal car crash, battling depression, or family life?
Corey Palmer: I would say my family has had the biggest and most positive impact, hands down. The car crash was rough, but it immediately opened my eyes up to how short life can be, and kind of re-taught me to seize the moment. It was a brutal way to come across that lesson, but was definitely much needed. Depression has been a truly awful on-again, off-again relationship for a very long time for me. So it has always inevitably played a part in my music, but more recently it was so all-consuming that I couldn’t help but acknowledge it in a more obvious way.
We love your 24-min track “Heartache”, it’s great. Were you at all surprised at how up-beat and low key funky it turned out, given your recent circumstances, or was that the goal?
I’ve had friends tell me over the years that I write “fun sad” music. I’m that guy at the party who will spin an Isley Bros jam like “The Heat is On,” then follow it up with something like “One More Try” by George Michael, and expect everybody to feel it on the same level. I’ve always thought sad music and funky music both have very sincere and important purposes, and when you can get them to dance together in the same song, it can be pretty magical and cathartic stuff.
What’s it like going back and editing a 24-min track? Do you have to break it up into sections or chapters or something?
Oof. I recorded ‘Heartache’ all within the same, giant Pro Tools session. I thought about breaking it up after I finished writing it, but I was afraid I’d lose sight of the overall vibe. Not to mention I wanted to be able to quickly reference other spots in the song without losing focus. Anyway, editing wasn’t so bad because I tried to do a lot of complete takes. But mixing was really tricky because so many individual tracks changed purpose throughout the song. For example, one track would start as a Rhodes piano, but 12 minutes into the song it needed to be a backup vocal. So I had to automate things like volume and stereo panning a little more than I typically do. The live drum tracks I played took up quite a bit of time—mainly because I wanted very distinct changes in the drum sounds throughout the song, which meant recording those in sections and using a different room and mic approach each time.
In hindsight, I have no idea where the energy came from—I was such a sad mess throughout the whole process, but I was certainly getting some fun out of the engineering/performance side of it.
All of your tracks have a fantastic and consistent production on them—any closely held recording/engineering tricks our musician readers/editors should know about?
Thanks! No obvious secret tricks that come to mind. Maybe just “keep the song intact.” Sometimes it’s really easy for me to tweak away and add layers upon layers of textures simply because a computer makes it ridiculously easy. But I try to remember that the best songs can be stripped down to a voice and an instrument, and still really move listeners. I’m definitely guilty of being heavy-handed—hopefully less and less the older I get—but I sincerely try to make everything I do IMPROVE the song. I’ve always thought the Mute button is just as useful as the Record button in that way.
Your release show at Icehouse on Saturday (with Peter Wolf Crier!) really does feature an who’s who of MPLS + STPL musicians helping you out, how did you get folks like Jeff Marcovis and Scott McVeigh on board? Is it show full of friends or did you just grab the best hired guns out there?
I’m very lucky in that my band is comprised of 6 of my honest-to-god best friends. I’ve known and loved them all for many years now. I met Nick Tveitbakk way back when he helped record Daykit at Seedy Underbelly, Adrian Suarez and Park Evans were in These Modern Socks with me for quite a few years, while Scott, Jeff, and Katie Marshall were all great college friends of mine that I had always threatened to make music with. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have such talented people that think I’m not only cool enough to hang out with them, but also plug in instruments and make noise with.
What’s next? Do you have touring aspirations or just more regular music here? Is this the beginning of a full on rock opera?
Ha! Honestly, a rock opera is probably not far off. I love writing with broad themes in mind. In fact, the second These Modern Socks album we did was 10 songs about a space romance(!) and its demise. I’m currently writing some more straight-forward, singer-songwriter stuff and toying with the idea of tracking it live to tape down at Pachyderm Studios. Nick manages that place and it’s really just a phenomenal place to work. Other than that, we’re playing a bit around Minneapolis this summer, and touring is always on the table if and when schedules align. In the meantime, I’m just loving the daily grind with my family and looking forward to the next little creative sparks that life has in store for me.
Saturday, 11 PM. $8 advance, $10 door. Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave S, MPLS; icehousempls.com
Fashion Week MN #FWMN continues on through this weekend and into next week with a bunch of original and inventive fashion and lifestyle events, including Sunday’s very cool Crosswalk Fashion Show. The indoor-to-outdoor event returns after a 5-year hiatus in a big way: There’s pieces by Cliché’s roster of national brands, live illustrations by Claire Ward, refreshments, the spring collections of local designers Jenny Carle and Danielle Everine, and coincides with a sale at the boutique.
Before the looks head out of the store and across 24th + Lyndale, we sent some quick questions to Everine about designing for the crosswalk, her time on Pro Ro, other #FWMN fun, and how we should be dressing.
Secrets of the City: How much better is it to stage your collection for a crosswalk show than a standard runway?
Danielle Everine: Logistically it is has advantages! Rather than renting a venue, catwalk and lighting, we use the natural stage of the street. Everyone is welcome to attend, no tickets or dress code needed! We must let go of full control, and subject ourselves to the elements— unpredictability becomes part of the presentation. Let’s just hope for great weather.
It’s maybe hard to quantify, but what being on Project Runway do for a MPLS + STPL designer? To you suddenly stop becoming a local designer and become a national personality? Do people jokingly tell you to make it work?
I saw behind the golden curtain of reality television. That changes a person in many ways. The best take away was learning to be comfortable talking about my work in front of a camera. The show fostered some great connections both near and far. I definitely still make it work!
How great is Cliché?
Cliché is my favorite! I have had the pleasure of working with them many times. In fact, I showed a cowgirl inspired collection at Crosswalk 5 years ago! Owners Josh and Delayna have incredible taste and always have lovely pieces.
How much of #FWMN do you go to? Anything in particular you’re excited for besides the Crosswalk show and Black Magik Woman?
There is so much going on! It is difficult to attend more than a few events. I am always excited to attend Black Hearts Ball. Organizers Tim + Thom always provide a stage for great talents. This year, I look forward to seeing work from two emerging designers I have worked with on other projects—Shiader Vue and Lauren Kacher (Form Over Function).
Block party season is coming up—you’re a fashion expert, what should we be wearing when we’re going out?
Linen, florals and ruffles!
Sunday at 2 PM. Free.
Cliché, 2403 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-0420, clichempls.com