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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA Alumna and leader of Steff and the Articles’ Steff Koeppen talks history and future of the band

    Steff and the Articles

    On March 25, the hazy plush red booths, low leather chairs and luminescent yellows of Fourth Avenue’s Flycatcher bar welcomed sweetly passionate tones of piano, drums, strings and voice of Steff and the Articles. Known for sweeping melodies and hammering, the band has masterfully combined jazz, blues and piano pop into a lovely and unique sound.

    After the show, one Daily Wildcat reporter had the chance to sit down and talk to the lead singer, pianist and founder of the group, Steff Koeppen to talk about what has shaped the band and how they plan to continue making music in Tucson.

    Daily Wildcat: What got you into music?

    Steff Koeppen: When I was a little girl, my dad was a singer-songwriter. I took up the violin when I was 7 and hated it, but then I took up piano at 8 or 9, realized I liked singing and put them together at some point. Once I started learning pop songs that I could sing and play together, it made me want to start writing some of my own.

    DW: Did you have any previous experience working in a band?

    SK: I made a band called Fouren Policy in middle school — there were four of us. Fouren Policy evolved into a few other things during high school until Idella, which was my first gigging band.

    DW: You’re a graduate of the UA, right? What did you get a degree in?

    SK: I was a communications major with minors in music and Spanish. I felt like I had three minors in communication, music and Spanish, because it seemed like I had to take an equal amount of courses between the three.

    DW: How did Steff and the Articles come together?

    SK: In 2009, I felt like I [wanted] to start a project more based on my personal songwriting. [Drummer] Tom [Beech] and I went to high school together. Chris [Pierce] found me on Myspace. [Violinist] Alex [Tuggel] went to a nearby high school and we had mutual friends, and [violinist] Jess [Muiseke] joined really recently when Alex went out of town for a year.

    DW: How would you describe the genre of Steff and the Articles?

    SK: That’s a hard question, but we’ve always described ourselves as progressive piano pop. It’s jazzy and indie in all the right ways.

    DW: Who are some of your influences?

    SK: I’m influenced by a lot of a lot of indie-pop bands like Ben Folds [Five], Rufus Wainwright, Eisley, Feist and also more vintage styles of jazz and blues like Etta James. The rest of the band has a lot of classical background and a great jazz background.

    DW: Do you have any favorite venues?

    SK: We mostly play Club Congress and The Flycatcher, and if we can play at The Rialto [Theatre], we love having the opportunity to put that at the top of this list.

    DW: What is the creative environment of Steff and the Articles like?

    SK: We rehearse at Chris’ house off Fourth [Avenue], and squish into his living room. I usually come with the skeleton of a song, and the boys help me flesh that out. More recently, I’ve been trying to jam on some more individual ideas to see what we can come up with. The girls are really good about thinking up their own additions to the skeleton that we’ve put together.

    DW: That sounds a lot like the way a jazz band works.

    SK: Yeah, it really is. It’s nice to have the freedom to change things up so things fit together better with the band.

    DW: I saw that you sang with Decker, who was the one of the bands who opened for you. Do you do a lot of collaborations outside Steff and the Articles?

    SK: Yeah, I do a lot of vocal collaborations. Over the past year I’ve been in the studio a lot, collaborating with other artists from around Arizona. I was featured on Copeland’s most recent record, and I also have done a lot work as a back up singer.

    DW: What do you think of the original music scene in Arizona?

    SK: I get to experience the Phoenix scene and the Tucson scene equally. Phoenix has a great pop scene, but Tucson’s more geared toward rock and Latin. It’s a unique situation for us as a pop band putting together successful bills here. There’s a lot of musical diversity in the bands in Phoenix, but that’s just because there’s a lot more people and venues there. That being said, there’s been a recent wave of electronic pop coming through Tucson.

    DW: Where do you see Steff and the Articles in the next couple years?

    SK: We’re working on a record, we’re trying to find a more efficient way of touring, and we’re trying to play more festivals. Playing more and having new music to release is the basic idea for what we want to do.

    DW: If people wanted to connect with Steff and the Articles, how could they do it?

    SK: Steff and the Articles can be found on pretty much every social media outlet out there. We’re also online.

    Follow Kincaid Rabb on Twitter.

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