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Van Stee on Krautrock, origins, and tonight's Local Current Live

Categories: Interview
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The Current's Local Show hosts a free show tonight at the Cedar Cultural Center, and they've hand-picked some emerging local music gems to perform. Along with folk artist Chastity Brown and all-female hip-hop trio the Chalice (featuring this week's print star Claire de Lune), the pop-rock band Van Stee (who claim "Krautrock" as a genre on their Facebook page) fills the bill.

Gimme Noise caught up with Van Stee frontman Charlie Van Stee to find out where they came from, why their song "We Are" is so damn catchy in a weird, psychedelic way, and to talk the Krautrock.


So, you guys are pretty new. Give me some history on Van Stee.

It basically started out as a collaboration between Josh Kaplan, the drummer, and I. We were in the Charlie Van Stee Trio, playing around for about four years, and then the band broke up, and I was going to grow up and get a job and be an adult. Of course the opposite happened, and I holed up in my room and made some music. Then I called Josh Kaplan up, and we started making more music together, and I met Jake Hanson [of Halloween, Alaska] who was interested in producing some of it, and then he introduced us to Lance Conrad [of Humans Win! Recording Studio]. Joey Kantor from Rogue Valley played keys on the record, and it kind of just formed into a band. We formed the band as we were making the record, and that was working backwards... We're almost done with mixing the record at this point.

But Joey isn't in the band now, is he?

No, at this point, we have a permanent group. Shawn Connelly, Andy Mark, Josh [Konrad], Lance [Conrad], and me.

Your Facebook profile lists one of your genres as "Krautrock."

That was a label that was given to us. I'm not against it.

I haven't had time to Google it. Can you tell me what it is?

[Laughs] I think it's low, bass-heavy, rhythmic rocking tunes with an experimental edge. So I think it's just having Andy's dub-influenced bass parts in there. I think that's what they mean by Krautrock, but I could be wrong.

Okay, great. So, tell me a little about the upcoming album.

It varies a lot, genre-wise. It's kind of vocal-centric, and I took a lot of time with the lyrics... Most of them are not really about love or loss of love or any of that treaded ground. I try to write a little more lyrically, not like, "This girl is an angel and I dream of kissing her lips, and when she's gone I feel like my life is over." It has that kind of rocking edge to it, which is part of Jake Hanson's producing work and, of course, Lance Conrad's. And there are some Krautrock moments, of course.

Of course. Do you have a release date on the album?

We're probably looking at sometime before October 1. We have a Kickstarter profile that we're kind of wrapping up... There's a lot of business stuff that we're wrapping up before we can release it, but basically we're looking at sometime in September.

Great. So, being such a new assembly, have you guys had much time playing live together?

Yeah, we did a five week residency at the Kitty Cat Klub on Tuesday nights in May, and we played Stone Arch a couple weeks ago. There's a lot we're trying to solidify. We're still very fresh, just trying to get as many shows under our belt to build that chemistry.

What can audience members expect tonight at the Local Show Live?

As far as compared to the record, I think our live show is a bit more rock. I think the record might be a bit more broken up and psychedelic than what we're like on stage, but I think it still works.

So how did they find you at the Current, anyway?

I have no idea, actually. I think it might have been from submitting at Vita.mn's Are You Local? Someone must have heard it and passed it on. Jon Schober contacted us from the Current. He liked "We Are" and put it on the Local Show, and then moved it into regular rotation, which was awesome. We would have ideally put the track out three months later than when they put it on the Current, just because we're still figuring things out, but how do you say no to that?



Awesome. Okay, so if you could sum up Van Stee in three words, what would they be?

Krautrock. [Laughs] No, okay, um... Heart-felt, maybe? Diligent, because we really are working hard on these tracks and trying to make them sound as good as possible. And fresh, maybe, because this is all very new to us as well. The songs are kind of new every time we play them.

What do you think is the most important takeaway for listeners of Van Stee?

What I'm excited about with this project is that there's a lot of depth. I would like these songs to exist in the background, if you're hanging out with your friends and have a beer, something you can still move your head to even if you're not paying attention to the lyrics, but also something that can really be listened to closely. I want there to be a level where you're comfortable ignoring it, and a level where you can really dig into it if you want to.

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Local Current Live is happening tonight at the Cedar Cultural Center. Doors 7 p.m. All Ages. Free. RSVP here.

7:30pm The Chalice
8:30pm Van Stee
9:30pm Chastity Brown


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