SoundTown Series: The Ericksons teach us how to fall in love


Sisters Jenny Kochsiek and Bethany Valentini, together with drummer Dan Kapernick, make up the Ericksons--a local roots band with hearty female vocals that lend well to their haunting Appalachian sound. The Ericksons have been around Minneapolis for less than a year, following the September release of their second album don't be scared, don't be alarmed, but that hasn't stopped them from playing every possible show and keeping an ear to the ground (and a hand on their guitar strings).

Gimme Noise caught up with Kochsiek, singer-songwriter-guitarist, to chat about their plans and their upcoming SoundTown gig.


So, catch me up. Last time we talked you and Bethany were getting your feet on the ground in the music scene here. How are the Ericksons doing? How has the summer been treating you?

The Ericksons are great. We're very good. The summer has been good in a lot of different ways because we've really been able to play shows and write music. We've just had some great opportunities. New sounds have been coming out this summer... I've been writing really simple folksy songs and Bethany's been writing a lot of trippy lyrical, almost soulful, deeper songs, and playing those together has been awesome. Our last album came out in September and I feel like playing this summer has been opening this realm of new sounds and music and even just being in Minneapolis has given us the chance to experiment.

What does the fall look like for you guys?

Our focus this fall is just playing a ton in the Twin Cities area. We're playing the Rock Bend Folk Festival in St. Peter in September, that'll be a funny thing to do after SoundTown. We just have a bunch of shows lined up in the TC for fall. We'll be recording our third album in January, since we have a bunch of songs ready and we want to work with Beau Sorenson (who recorded our second album). We're hoping to release that album in Summer 2012 and do a major tour then. That's our plan.

What do you mean by "major" tour?

Well, we've done the West Coast twice, we've done the East Coast once... we've had our experience playing in New York. Ideally we'd love to hook up with some other awesome band and do a good three-month tour and make it happen. Keep it fun. But we don't really want to do that until we have everything lined up and when we feel ready... if we have the album recorded in winter and ready in the summer, we'd love to spend the summer touring. That's what we've set our sights at.

How did the SoundTown gig come up?

(laughs) Harold Tremblay at KFAI. We've played on his house party show, we've played with him at the 331.... We did that with him in January because he'd been playing our record and randomly in April we got this email from him being like. "There's this thing in Somerset and you should play." Our mantra is usually if someone asks you to play a show, you just do it. We said yes, not knowing what it was, and a month later we were like, "Whoa! The Flaming Lips are playing!" We just thought it was like a little folk music party! And then we started hearing more about it and it was like Molly Maher, Roma di Luna, all these really awesome local people, and so we just feel really lucky.

Are you looking forward to any particular bands at SoundTown?

Oh, man... there are so many. I mean, who doesn't love DeVotchKa? You know who I'm excited for: the Ericksons. Heard a lot of good things about them.

(Jenny, who is in general a remarkably sunny, even-keeled, sarcasm-free sort of girl, delivers this line in the same tone she says everything else, and then laughs a little at herself.)

Also Zoo Animal. I love their music, I listen to their last album all the time, but I've never seen them play live.

You'll love them. Have you played many festivals?

We've played mainly smaller folk festivals so... (pauses) No, I guess this is our first big festival. It's really exciting. How do you feel about playing at SoundTown, to the crowd there? What are you hoping for?

(laughs) I have no idea what to expect. I hope some people fall in love. What more can you hope for? There's nothing like music that does that to people. You know? We've all been there where you've been at a show and you just fall in love. So that's all, I think. Just a couple people to fall in love.

What makes you fall in love? Well... someone's gotta write good music. I mean, you've gotta write good songs. But more than that, it's honesty. I think the last time that happened was with A. A. Bondy, when I was living in Brooklyn... He's just got this honesty, where there's no façade, there's no "I'm an entertainer" or whatever. And recently, the local artist I feel like plays like that is Erik Koskinen. He doesn't go up on stage with any showmanship, he just plays his music. I wish Bethany were here because she does that so much better than I do, I'm jacked with energy, but she's just deadpan, you know? She's just playing. I think that's what you always strive for as a musician, and I think nothing shows that more than playing your songs to people who are talking and don't care, who aren't listening. I think that teaches you to go inside yourself and play your music. I think that once you make it about your ego, you lose that, you've lost already. I've never responded well to people who are like, "You should wear your hair like this or say this into the microphone." You just have to do what you want to do, you know? That's all you can do. There's no fooling people. That's all.

(Jenny smiles, perhaps a little overwhelmed by the amount of honesty she has just expounded or the passion she feels for what she does, and blows out a little humorous breath.)

...So we're gonna do a couple John Mayer covers. We're gonna start there. Then we're gonna follow up with some Ingrid Michelson and call it a day. Right? Yeah. Jenny Kochsiek, by the way, recently fell in love herself--or, maybe not so recently. Congratulations to her on her engagement to Dan Kapernick. Those lovebirds couldn't be more perfect together.


"Like" Gimme Noise on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @gimme_noise.