Kaiser Cartel

KaiserCartel is a low-fi, song-driven, harmony-heavy Brooklyn-based duo. Their first full-length album, March Forth, produced by Matt Hales (aka Aqualung) and mixed by Matt and Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros) was released in the US on bluhammock music in June 2008 and in the UK on Continental Record Services in June 2009. Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel have been touring the country in their Prius ever since they quit their teaching jobs last June, stopping at Monolith Festival and 80-35 Festival and supporting Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, Aqualung, and Carrie Rodriguez. KC has had music in the MTV show Exiled, Discovery Channel’s Alter-Eco and on Starbucks’ Have You Heard? compilation and had two songs in the first two episodes of the new HBO series “Bored To Death”. Their video for Oh No can be seen on VH1.com and their video for Okay was shown at Slamdance this year. Their charming and intimate live show is not to be missed. Their new album, Secret Transit, is scheduled to be released in early 2010.

For now you can grab their new EP titled 'Rock Island' and the re-release of their debut EP 'Double Standard' at their live shows shows or on their website.

How would you describe this music to people?

The music of Kaiser Cartel has a lot of roots in rock, pop, and folk.  They focus on melody and harmony as well as challenging themselves by playing multiple instruments. They create a very large sound with just 2 pairs of hands and feet. Kaiser Cartel also chooses to use non-traditional rock instruments such as the Dulcetina, various glockenspiels, and a battery powered milk frother.

Tell me about how Kaiser Cartel originally got into this craft.
Benjamin started playing in a punk rock band with his brother when he was 13 years old playing original material at all age shows. Benjamin fell in love performing back then and hasn't stopped since.

Courtney started singing in tap dance recitals when she was 3 years old. She sang in various children's choirs and theater groups as well as studied Opera, and world vocal music in college. She started her first band at 16 years old, writing her own songs and playing the guitar. Courtney played in various bands until meeting Benjamin and starting Kaiser Cartel.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Benjamin's favorite thing is to watch an excellent movie.

Courtney's favorite thing is to pet animals.

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to running this business?
It is challenging to do the book keeping, blogging, podcasts, interviews, conference calls, driving 18 hrs to play a show, radio interviews, writing, playing shows, selling merch, finding good food to eat while traveling, all at the same time.

When you were kids, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Courtney-a singer
Benjamin-a painter

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Everywhere that we have lived we have been inspired by the communities in which we have lived.  They keep us going all the time with their support and by observing all the great things that individuals do within them.

What other artists out there do you love?
Bon Iver, Winterpills, Lisa Germano, Lida Husik, The B-52's, The Beatles, The Ramones, The Lemonheads, Bjork, Sinead O'Connor, The Replacements, Radiohead, and Santogold to just name a few.

What does your future hold?
Great things....Really, we hope that our music impacts the most people possible in a positive way. Our expectation is to be the soundtrack to everyone's life.

10/8   Living Room, NYC
10/9   Starving Artist Keene, NH
10/10  All Asia Cambridge, MA
10/11  Castaway's, Ithaca, NY
10/20  CMJ showcase Living Room, NYC
11/13  92nd Y, NYC (supporting Nicole Atkins and the Sea)
12/04  Olde Towne Creamery, Maple Lake, MN
12/05  Olde Towne CreameryMaple Lake, MN


Christeen of Avantegarb makes unique, colorful, funky garb and costumes with a focus on upcycling and recycling fun fabrics, textiles and trims of yore.  She designs for the free spirits and for the colorful little folk who require a good dose of frivolity and humor, who want more from a garment than conventional trends, who desire a look that is only achieved by breaking from the flock.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Christeen.
I started sewing when I was 10.  I learned in 4-H, and my Mom used to make our clothes too.  I grew up around a seamstress, BUT my passion for reinventing garb came when I was in college.  As per the norm, I was broke so I did a lot of resale shopping.  Of course you never find the correct size in something you adore, so I taught myself to revise, update and design something from an unsuitable piece of clothing.  This holds true with my costuming; I have been creating them since I was a wee little nipper.  They just got more complicated as I honed my skills.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Well, while I do so love my "job" of creating funky togs....I would have to say that my absolute fave is hiking along the shores of Lake Superior on a windy day in the early autumn.  The waves are crashing and if I am brave enough, skinny dipping and body surfing with my dog!!  OH, and making cairns with the rocks on the shoreline.  It is my favorite place(so far) that I have been to on this planet, it is breathtakingly gorgeous and pristine and oh, so peaceful!!

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
For me the business is the hardest.....promoting myself and managing the markets and art fairs to attend, listing things on my website and taking viable photos.  Had I my way, I would be creating every day, an artist in the truest sense, I tend toward a hermity countenance, but I am getting better at taking care of business all the time.

One other thing that is tough is picking fashion trends, knowing what will sell and what will not.  Again, I have been a clothes monger all my life, so I get better at it all the time.

What item in your shop would you most like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
I would love something like these...free flowing and fun, and lovely autumn colors....eeeeek! I'd be in heaven!

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian

What other shops or artists out there do you love?
www.thequirkycorncrib.etsy.com  she makes the most divine owls, I own at least 10....

www.loopyboopy.etsy.com  she makes some weird and crazy dolls, they are so CUTE

What does your future hold?
I intend to keep on creating and making a name for myself. I would love to get my designs in as many stores and boutiques as possible...then perhaps some day design for a big designer (like Yves Sainte Laurent or Gucci) and be world famous....hey, if you're gonna dream...DREAM BIG!

If you're in the New Orleans area be sure to check out Avantegarb at the following festivals:

Broad Street Bazaar on Saturday Oct 10

Adam Ashbach

Singer-songwriter Adam Ashbach is no stranger to the Rock and Roll lifestyle. He played with Musical Outfits for almost seven years as the Chicago rock band sold out some of the city's biggest venues, played Lollapalooza, were scouted by major labels and traveled to Greece, where they enjoyed heavy radio airplay and performed on a popular television show.

The band even boasted an impressive grassroots following that shared their desire for honest music, but things got complicated. After numerous breakups, fights over the same girl and a barroom brawl that left Ashbach with a broken jaw, he had had enough.

After retreating from music and Chicago for nearly two years, Adam’s love for melody and songwriting called him home to record his first solo effort, the sweet and heartfelt EP Puzzle Pieces, at CRC and Tim Sandusky's Studio Ballistico.

With the help of old band mates Jason Angelilli and Joe Wagner, Adam worked up some direct yet vulnerable pop songs and is ready to give the rock and roller coaster one more shot.

How do you describe your music to people?
I like to say "polka metal" to see how people react, and if they get the joke I tell them it's really pop music. If they don't get the joke, I let them continue to believe its polka metal. I write songs that I hope will make people feel genuine emotions and escape a little.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I always wanted to play guitar. And I've loved singing since I was 3 or 4. After my dad took my guitar away after my first lesson (at age 11 because of bad grades), I didn't play again until I was 17. All my friends were leaving for college and partying was getting old. I felt I needed an outlet and [music] was a natural fit. I started playing everyday. I couldn't stop!

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
My favorite thing to do...well, it's hard to pick a favorite band or Beatles song, but one of my faves is to just sleep in and then lounge all day and listen to old records. That and maybe swim in a cold lake on a hot day with friends. Unfortunately, I can't do that as much as I would like.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
My biggest challenge is probably not being able to stay current with modern marketing. As soon as I start doing the "thing" you have to be doing or involved with it seems that there is already something new I need to be doing. And I'm like "I just found out about that other thing!" It's a challenge to not just play music. Musicians and songwriters now have to be business savvy as well as good at music. Jimi Hendrix was just like check this out...I can play guitar so good it'll make you hurt. He wasn't saying "Hey, go to my Myspace and my Facebook page and my Twitter page.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I used to tell my parents I wanted to be a marine biologist. We had a lot of fish when I was a kid. My dad had tanks with crazy saltwater fish and even stingrays that he would feed by hand. But I would daydream in the car (while listening to music) that I was on stage singing. But I guess that never seemed like a reality, just more of a fantasy. I also used to want to be Spider-Man.

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I grew up in Chi-Town, so [community impact] is big. We all come from a working class mentality, so you gotta work hard. I lived in Brooklyn for almost 2 years and that definitely affected me. There are so many good bands and musicians that it makes you want to work that much harder at being good. But now I live in Logan Square (Chicago) and it's such a diverse neighborhood and it really has helped me say I can do the music I want to do, regardless. In NYC, I sometimes felt like I had to be hip and there was no room for sappy or lovey-dovey. But I grew up on Bob Marley and The Beatles and I want to say "Love" and not feel ashamed because it's not cool. So I think coming back to the Chi has made me more honest.

What other artists out there do you love?
I love Ryan Adams. I think he's the bees knees. I mean, I can't say enough about him as an artist and a songwriter. Sam Roberts from Canada--he is a rock star over there, selling out for thousands at a show and here he plays [small venues like] Subterranean and Beat Kitchen. I also like Kings of Leon. The song Milk off their second album is what got me into them. There are a ton of bands, really--way too many to list. There are some Chicago bands that I really dig--California Wives and Jonny Rumble.

What does your future hold?
I want to be happy! It sounds corny but that's all I'm really hoping for. I have spent too much time trying to please too many other people. I hope that the future holds happiness. And, of course, I'm always optimistic that music will be part of that. I would love to be able to play shows across the country and the world. But right now I'm just trying to play a show at the Double Door in Chicago.