Gimme a Break: Steff Koeppen and the Articles
Steff Koeppen and The Articles have this enchanting mix of pop and jazz that you’ve just got to hear. Think Regina Spektor meets Rufus Wainwright with a lot less angst. Koeppen’s voice is nimble and hops effortlessly from note to note, mirroring her flitting hands over the keys of her piano. The arrangements on their latest record Stories You Can’t Tell are fluid, carrying the listener from each enjoyable moment to the next with effortless flow. Check out their stylish new video for “Finding” after the interview!
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Members: Steff Koeppen, Alexandra Tuggle, Chris Pierce, Tom Beech
Single Being Released: “It Really Is Quite Lonely Here”
For Fans of: Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Eisley, Ingrid Michaelson
Steff Koeppen and The Articles are a progressive-pop ensemble from Tucson, Arizona powered by melodic female vocals, piano-based song structures, inventive drum and bass grooves, and violin arrangements. Steff Koeppen, singer/songwriter and pianist, founded the project in 2008. By the end of 2009 she had organized what would become the definitive lineup of “The Articles”. The current lineup includes Chris Pierce, a world traveled bass player; Alex Tuggle, a classically trained violinist; and Tom Beech on drums. The band produces music which touches on classical, jazz, and folk styles while still maintaining an accessible, pop-oriented sound. It has also been described as, “singer/songwriter meets jazzy progressive rock.” Steff Koeppen and The Articles released “Stories You Can’t Tell” in 2012, which followed their self-titled debut album released in 2010. The band plays frequently to audiences throughout Arizona and the Southwest and has hopes to travel much further in the near future.
Who or what inspires you? Why?
I am inspired by my experiences, as well as my perceptions and observations of people. The emotions I generate from what I experience are what I use to set the stage for a song. As a part of this, I find myself analyzing the people around me and transferring this into lyrical thought. Additionally, I'm inspired by the musicians I am able to work with and other goal-oriented people I've encountered. Being around these people motivates me to continue working toward my own personal aspirations.
What are your plans for the new year? What goals do you have for the band?
This year, we ultimately hope to record a third album and find label or management support to help us do so. We definitely intend to do some summer touring, as well.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve actually followed?
It may be a bit cliche and simple, but my father continuously reminds me to "keep doing what you love doing." When I think about it, if I cut myself off from the time to do what I enjoy, I'd be doing something I did not enjoy so much just to further myself at doing this less enjoyable thing. There's some logic to be recognized in there.
You released “It Really Is Quite Lonely Here” this month, what was your main source for inspiration in writing this song?
I wrote the song one night with some alone time and the accompaniment of a rather down, depressed sort of mood. A year's worth of studying jazz piano inspired the bluesy tone of the song -- something that's been employed more in other new tunes. This song gave the band and I room to play with some new ideas when piecing together the arrangements. Lyrically, the theme is simple enough -- the feeling of loneliness that is not unique to myself, I know. In my particular case, I was feeling disconnected from my hometown and old friends. Without anyone to socially distract me, I found myself having all these negative thoughts about my future and relationships of sorts...all taking place in my familiar spaces.
Outside of music, how do you fill the hours of a day? Do you have any fun Interests? Hobbies? Weird obsessions?
I have enough to fill more than the available hours of a day. I pack my weekdays with school and work. I am a senior at the University of Arizona and a shift manager at my job during the week. Alex (violin) just graduated from the University with an anthropology degree. Tom (drums) and Chris (bass) have their day jobs, as well as a jazz fusion group they play with.
You recently shot a video for “Finding” can you tell us about that experience. How did you come up with the concept for the video? Where was it filmed? Who directed it?
The video for "Finding" was directed by Tucker Audie and filmed/edited by Cory Davis. I approached Cory and Tucker as a fan of their work for other artists and knew their style would be fitting. They came up with a handful of ideas and themes and then we played around with different aesthetic things during the filming. Throughout the course of a weekend, a total of six different locations were used -- a coffee shop in Scottsdale, an open field down the street, a friend's eclectic house in Tempe, my friends' loft in downtown Phoenix, at a venue in Tucson during one of our live performances and finally, with a couple grand pianos at Arizona State University. It was a fun adventure!
How did your band the Articles come to be?
After playing with different friends at this project's beginning in 2008 (I had always written songs with a full band's energy in mind), I was finally able to connect with this lovely bunch of music-makers at the very end of 2009. Tom and I went to the same high school, Alex lived nearby and had mutual friends, and Chris became the final piece of the puzzle after contacting me via Myspace (when my headline read "looking for bassist"). We've been working together for a few years now and it's been really neat to see how our musical relationship has grown.
Guiltiest music pleasure?
Maybe my contriving of lame raps and jingles for my friends and bandmates. Sometimes I think I'd rather just communicate via jingle.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I'd have the ability to teleport. Then, I'd be able to travel whenever I wanted and explore the world so easily. Maybe I could spend a weekend in France, grab a quick cup of tea in China, then go to a party in Barcelona at night, you know.