photos by Jeremy Farmer
review and interview by Sheryl Witlen
Once in a while a singer enters a room and is so fiercely talented in his lyrical ability and charismatic, at ease and with such a field force of surrounding energy that you can literally hear the shock and awe creep over the audience. These moments are what make going to see live music an invaluable experience. Singular in it’s opportunity- for no show can ever be re-done or re-lived even with the technological advances of recordings and videotapes you can never truly go back, which is a shame for every time I have seen David Vandervelde perform I wish I could freeze time. Although relatively young in years (releasing his first single at the age of 19), he grooves with agility and speaks of life’s experiences with such knowledge that you feel he must be older than he truly is. Fiercely motivated Vandervelde played all of the instruments and rumor has it even taught himself the ones he didn’t already know in preparation for perfection with his first public release. “Moonstation House Band” was recorded with the production assistance of Jay at his Pieholden Suite Sound Studios and was released in 2007. Immediately the blogs started buzzing praise and posting glaringly brilliant reviews from his shows. Adorned by breathtakingly poignant ballads, ‘Nothin’ No’ and ‘Murder in Michigan’ it was easy to understand why all everyone was going into hysterics over this Chicago representative. He was compared to the legendary T Rex and has a long lasting creative relationship with Jay Bennet (formerly with Wilco). His band made up of Derek W. James, Richie Kirkpatrick, Ben Clarke, Max Hart, Emmett Kelly and David Beeman groove alongside Vandervelde seamlessly. On his second album, “Waiting for the Sunshine” his band contributed to the recording process for the first time and the overall effect is vividly apparent. After a listen to the albums first single,’ I Will Be Fine’ what strikes your ears first is a much softer delivery with his vocals and much more emphasis on the actual music behind the words. This is sure to be a strength for building his sound and it this album unfolds with much more jazz and blues influences than the previously released Vandervelde operations. David has come a long way from his days of playing and recording in the basement of his beginnings in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After jumping from Michigan-to Chicago-to Brooklyn-to Nashville David is a seasoned free spirit embracing each of these rich musical communities and taking all of the lessons he has learned with him. In preparation for his upcoming album release via Secretly Canadian on August 5th, David is a welcome in studio guest for the second time here at KEXP.
Sheryl: So this is your second time playing a KEXP in-studio and with your upcoming album release set August, are you preparing for a larger tour after that?
David Vandervelde (DV): Yeah we’re gonna go out in September for just a couple weeks and probably do more in the fall.
Sheryl: Your first album received massive amounts of glowing praise in preparation for August are you nervous about the expectations for these songs or…
DV: No, not really. I mean I hope people dig it, but I’m always excited to make the next record and this one was so fun. Once you make something it’s just kinda done and you never know what will happen.
Sheryl: I read that for your first record, you recorded all the instruments yourself and then taught yourself the ones you weren’t familiar with.
DV: It is safe to say that the majority of the record was myself. I had a couple people play, my friend Derek was at the studio and he played drums on a few songs. My friend Jay played bass on a couple tunes. But other than that I was all alone.
Sheryl: This time your band helped out out more-it was more of a collaborative process the second time?
DV: Yeah. We did a lot of it live in the studio. Then we did overdubs in different places but that’s the difference, the core has a really live feel to it. It’s just a lot looser and spacey sounding.
Sheryl: I read recently you recorded with Justin Townes Earl for a Daytrotter session?
DV: No, I played a show with him before I did the Daytrotter session.
Sheryl: How was that?
DV: It was good. It was a fun show, and they are both from Nashville. Justin and Corey. My friend Corey was playing with him and they sounded really really good.
Sheryl: And you recently moved to Nashville, right?
Sheryl: Do you miss Brooklyn at all?
DV: No. I miss some things like really good grocery stores and being able to fully avoid drive-thru fast food things.
Sheryl: Do you have your own studio in Nashville yet?
DV: I’m in the process of putting something together in my basement because I want to make my next record at home.
Sheryl: Have you started writing for the next album already?
DV: Yeah. So hopefully this year I’ll be able to record it.
Sheryl: Do you write more on the road or just where ever you happened to find inspiration?
DV: For this record some of it was written on the road. We started playing a few of the tunes this record on the road during sound checks and writing tunes. I guess most of them were written on acoustic guitar in my apartment. Then I had multiple sessions.
Sheryl: Would you ever consider releasing an acoustic album?
DV: Yeah. I’d like to do a record with Ben here [was in his backing band during the performance].
Jeremy: You said you recorded in Rantoul, you guys from that area originally?
DV: No, I am originally from Michigan. My old studio partner Jay, when he moved out of his studio in Chicago he moved all of his gear into a building he bought in Rantoul for really really cheap. We spent awhile there building the studio. Then I ended up coming back to do a couple songs on the record with my friend Matt. We all set up live in the room and did the vocals through the PA and mixed everything later. All of the tracking was done live for ‘Lying in Bed’ and ‘Hit The Road’. In Champaign this time around we recorded ‘I Will Be Fine’, ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘Breezes’ live.
Ben: That’s the great thing about recording in Chicago, great room, incredible gear, great people.
Sheryl: Did you guys (looking at Ben and other David—St. Louis) move to Nashville as well?
David: No, I’m going to move farther away from him.
David: No, we’re gonna go down there though. We’ve got a show on the 31st with Grizzly Bear. So after we play our show next week at Schuba’s we’re all gonna caravan down there and start rehearsing. We just started two days ago rehearsing all this stuff.
Sheryl: Well you all sound great.
David: We’ve got a lot to learn still…in life.
Sheryl: Well thank you for taking the time.
DV: Thank you.