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Opening Act

Colton Kayser

ColtonKayser_OpeningAct

Artist/Band: Colton Kayser

Website: www.coltonkayser.com

Hometown: Monmouth Beach, NJ

Latest Album/Release: Place to Settle (Full length LP, July 2016)

Influences: Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Fionn Regan, John Prine, Weezer

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Kayser: My music is a mixture of Americana and pop. I try to say something with my songs, and they’re usually pretty short and to the point.

TrunkSpace: What did you hope to accomplish in the songwriting on “Place to Settle” that was different from what was heard on your debut?
Kayser: The first record was more about tracking the songs I had at the time. This time around, there was more of a developed game plan. I think “Place to Settle” is more cohesive in the sense that we had an overall sound, and theme, in mind. We also tracked the basic tracks live, which helped the songs breathe. I’m proud of both of my records and I think “Place to Settle” is an honest representation of where I was at in my life at the time I wrote it.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to the inspiration of your songwriting, do you write from experience or as more of a storyteller?
Kayser: Usually from experience. But I do flip story elements if I think it will make the song stronger. There’s always a little wiggle room to tell a better story.

TrunkSpace: Has the songwriting process itself changed for you since you first started writing songs?
Kayser: It’s eerily different, yet oddly the same. As a kid, I would just come home from school and write. Now, there’s a lot more factors, and I have to get in the right headspace to finish a song. However, ideas still pop into my head all the time, and I still write the majority of my songs late at night. The process is still there, I’ve just refined it a bit.

I’m writing less about girls, and more about life these days, and I think the next record will have a more serious tone to it. I’m really looking forward to developing my perspective in that sense.

TrunkSpace: Are you someone who is continuously tweaking songs even after they’ve been recorded or do you make peace with songs after you come out of the studio?
Kayser: Make peace with them. The band and I play them just like the records. By the time the record’s out, I’m thinking about the next one.

TrunkSpace: For many people, listening to music is a sort of cathartic therapy. Is songwriting the same thing for you? Does it help you get through the ups and downs of life?
Kayser: I think it lets me process events in life, both good and bad. I just like listening to what someone has to say, and I think that’s why I write songs. It’s easier for me to tell the whole story in three and half minutes than it is for me to express myself using other art forms.

TrunkSpace: When you look over your catalog of music, what song are you the most proud of and why?
Kayser: “I Better Leave” is definitely up there for me. It’s just very honest, and structurally sound from a writing standpoint. The song “Lift” hits me for the same reasons.

There’s a couple of tunes I’m working on now that I think I’m going to be very happy with when they’re done.

TrunkSpace: What is the most difficult aspect of marketing music and spreading the word in the digital age? It seems like it’s easier to get the word out, but at the same time, it seems more difficult to cut through the noise of everything else in order to have people pay attention.
Kayser: I was reading an article about the day to day life of touring musicians in The Fader the other day, and there was a line talking about how the Internet has made everything (musically speaking) popular, but nothing profitable.

I’ve definitely reached more people because of my web presence, and it’s cool to see that my songs have reached people all over the world. There’s a community of content sharers that have really helped my music reach others, and I tip my hat to them.

I’m still trying to figure out what 100,000 Spotify plays mean. Is it that you’re on a popular playlist or that people really like the song? And what am I marketing if the vast majority of music lovers don’t have to buy my work to enjoy it?

I think those are the real hard questions. Putting your songs out there is easy, and I think people will always listen to music if it’s good. That’s a prerequisite. The larger question is what does all this info generated by my music mean?

TrunkSpace: We’ve heard a lot about the rising music scene of Asbury Park. What is it about the area that has been having people talk about a resurgence and can it sustain itself?
Kayser: The arts have been thriving since the start of the redevelopment of the city about 10 years ago. The arts have always been there, but the influx of clubs, galleries, and music related businesses in recent years has really given artists/performers a platform to grow.

There’s a lot of good music coming out of the city, and I couldn’t wish for a better music community to grow up in. We’re more linked by location than genre, which allows for a lot of cross pollination of ideas.

There’s a lot of serious, career minded bands/music professionals, which allows for some great networking/job opportunities. It’s also small enough to give someone starting out a chance to be noticed if the music is good, and to survive from any early mistakes they happen to make.

Asbury Park can definitely sustain itself. The money has moved in. If you had told me as a kid that I would be hanging on Cookman Ave. at night, I would have laughed at you. I think artists may be priced out of living there at some point, but there’ll always be places to play, record, and grow.

TrunkSpace: If your phone rang tomorrow and a particular artist was on the other end of the line asking you to open for them… who would you want that particular artist to be and why?
Kayser: That’s tough to answer with just one artist. I’d love to open for Dawes because I love their music. I love their songs, and I love their arrangements. You could switch them out with Wilco for the same reasons too.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Colton Kayser for the rest of 2017?
Kayser: Well, I’m writing this from a car on my way out of Boston to Providence, RI for a gig tonight. So the immediate future is more touring.

I’m writing a lot right now, and I’ll definitely be working on releasing new music. I really want to get back in the studio, and grow as an artist. I love the process of recording and I’m exited to get back at it.

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Opening Act

Piece of Cake

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Artist/Band: Piece of Cake

Members: Brynn Bixby (Lead vocals, keyboard), Dave Nolden (Bass, vocals), Rob Lejman (Drums), Mark Alletag (Sax, guitar).

Website: https://soundcloud.com/pieceofcakemusic

Hometown: Chicago (Northwest Burbs)

Latest Album/Release: Piece of Cake (May 2016) (Available at Spotify and Apple music)

Influences: Jenny Lewis, Fiona Apple, Spoon

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Bixby: I try not to, but if I have to pick a genre I usually start off with indie-folk-pop. Describing my music is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I’d rather someone just listen and take what they can from it. I was once told it sounded like Amy Winehouse meets Jenny Lewis, which is probably the biggest compliment anyone could ever give me, so I’ll go with that.

TrunkSpace: Everyone loves cake and when one is present, they want a piece. Is that reflective of your music as well? Does everyone want a Piece of Cake?
Bixby: I hope so. We have been pretty well received live. Our shows are always a good time and I think that we have a sound that most people can connect with. It’s not your usual lineup, so I think we bring something that you don’t hear in every bar/venue/backyard. I can’t speak for everyone, but I damn sure want a piece of cake.

TrunkSpace: Jokes aside, your music seems very accessible. And by that we mean, there’s something for everyone without alienating fans of any one sound. What was that initial conversation like when you guys got together to form the band? Was there a discussion about the sound you wanted to create or was it more of a natural blending of musical tastes that ultimately became what Piece of Cake is?
Bixby: I started writing songs for Piece of Cake back in 2012, when I was in another project, a pop-rock trio called Caught In Your Pockets. I was looking for a different sound and wrote a couple of songs that I themed around the idea of “Piece of Cake.” One was called “Sweet Tooth City,” another “Easy As Pie,” it was random and fun. It felt natural and freeing to write outside of what I was doing at the time. About two or three years later Caught In Your Pockets broke up and I went back to this idea. I haven’t actually used any of the tunes I wrote back then, I should revisit them, but I wrote “Somebody,” a ballad I recorded and released as the first Piece of Cake single. It was a totally different vibe than anything I had written before and I wasn’t playing with a band at the time. It really spoke to what I was going through emotionally; starting over, moving on, figuring out my self-identity as a songwriter. It opened up a new process for me, and I wrote a few more songs before I reached out to anyone to get together. I’ve known everyone in the band for at least eight years, and I just started jamming with them and getting their opinions on new material. It really came along after about a year, and we recorded our first album and started playing out regularly. Everyone involved has another project that they play with and a diverse musical background so it’s been a blast working on this. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who has been a part of it.

TrunkSpace: What is the key for a band in finding an audience in 2017? Is it hard work? Is it luck? Is it a combination of the two?
Bixby: I wish I actually knew the answer to this question, it would be very helpful to me. From what I can tell, it’s a combination of the two. Luckily, we have had a lot of support from friends, family, and other local musicians with this project. I am extremely grateful for that. Mostly, I think people want to hear something different that they can relate to. If you can’t engage, what’s the point?

TrunkSpace: The chicken or the egg question. Does a band decide its identity or do the fans decide it for them? When it comes to a band, how much of the scene that you ultimately find yourself in is defined by who is in the scene itself?
Bixby: It’s all about perception. I know what Piece of Cake is for me, and I know what I think we sound like, but that’s not how everyone interprets it. I try not to worry too much about how we are labeled or what genre we fit in. It’s exhausting. I find that what I consider to be the best bands are those that cross multiple genres and influences and just do their thing.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of scenes, Piece of Cake is based in Chicago, a city known for having a great music scene decade after decade. What are your thoughts on it today in 2017? What’s great about it and what would you like to see changed or improved?
Bixby: Chicago is a hell of a city for live music. There is constantly something worth checking out and so many amazing local artists and bands. I love the scene for that because there are a ton of people to collaborate with. But, at the same time, there is an oversaturation of bands, and it can be hard to get noticed or book a show when there are a million other people trying to do the same. Still, we are lucky to have access to all the great venues in Chicago, and I appreciate the DIY scene and constant support from fellow musicians.

As always, I would definitely love to see more women artists in the spotlight in the Chicago music scene. It can feel like a boys club so much of the time. There are a multitude of badass women artists around and I love seeing these ladies rise to the occasion and steal the show.

The main thing I would like to see improve in the Chicago scene is that every single person who is part of it feels safe and is free of harassment and abuse at these shows and events. I am fortunate to not have had many personal experiences with this kind of disgusting behavior, but far too many people have, and it has to stop. This is a place for creativity and diversity. If you can’t handle it, get out.

TrunkSpace: The band has a great sound that seems as if it would translate really well to getting a crowd on their feet. What does a Piece of Cake live show look like?
Bixby: We try and have as much fun as possible. There is usually cake, so that’s a plus. I have a tendency to jump around and head bang, and I always appreciate it when people join in and get down. I think our live shows are energetic and people are usually enjoying it. It’s pretty hard not to move your body when you hear the horns kick in, the groove is very real. Did I mention we have cake?

TrunkSpace: What does the band hope to accomplish in its career together?
Bixby: I just want to play and record music with my friends. We are getting back in the studio this spring to record some new tunes, which should be great. When we recorded our album, it was a 24-hour marathon and this time it will be much more laid back. I am also trying to book a small tour this summer and get on the road to play for some new friendly faces.

TrunkSpace: Separate from career goals, what do you hope people take from the music itself?
Bixby: I just hope that people can listen and enjoy, even if it’s just for a distraction. People can take whatever they want from it, I just ask that they give it a shot! Obviously I wish everyone would buy our album and be lifelong fans. Is that too much to ask?

TrunkSpace: What would happen if Cake and Piece of Cake shared a stage?
Bixby: Everyone would be really confused, including me. I’m totally down for it though. Let me know what they say.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Piece of Cake in 2017?
Bixby: New tunes, killer shows, and more cake.

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