Feelin’ Minnesota: Exclusive Interview with Jordan Gatesmith of Howler

photo by Allyce Andrew

photo by Allyce Andrew

As a teenager, Jordan Gatesmith fronted the Minneapolis-based band Howler, whose sneering garage-rock sound caught the attention of UK label Rough Trade. (You can check out their KEXP performance during SXSW 2012 here on the blog, and a 2014 in-studio session here.) After two albums, Gatesmith disbanded the group earlier this year, moved to Los Angeles, and started a new project called Wellness. But as he says in this exclusive KEXP interview, “I still carry Minnesota with me wherever I go.”

KEXP is Feelin’ Minnesota today, Wednesday, June 7th, as a celebration of what would’ve been Prince’s 59th birthday, as well as a salute to the winner of the first-ever KEXP State-to-State challenge. From 6AM to 6PM, you’ll hear from artists like Hüsker Dü, Brother Ali, Poliça, and The Jayhawks, leading up to a four-hour extravaganza on The Afternoon Show with DJ Kevin Cole, former Minnesotan, featuring exclusive interviews, rare finds, and more.

If you could play one song from one Minnesota artist that encapsulates the state, who, which song and why?

“Erotic City” by Prince because we’re a very freaky bunch.

What Minnesota artists are most meaningful to you, and why?

Tough one, and I could go so many different directions, but some of best songwriters from Minnesota in my opinion are Clara Salyer (Royal Brat, Whatever Forever), Jay Simonson (France Camp, Nice Purse), and Jordan Bleau (Frankie Teardrop, Cheap Fantasy). They are my peers, but I’ve always looked up to them. They’re the kind of people that will keep an entire scene sharp, as we try to get on their level.

What is it about living in Minnesota that informs your art?

Well, I recently moved to LA but I still carry Minnesota with me wherever I go. There’s a certain pride we take in our work, and it’s very stoic pride, mind you. We just want the best that we can be, because we’re such hard workers. To go deeper, I personally think our hardworking attitude is informed by the unimaginable sadness of 6-7 months of sunless winter brings along with it.

Why does music matter to you?

Quite simply, music gives me the ability to feel joy everyday. Not a lot of other things can do that.

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