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Keep for Cheap: 'We're really building and growing together'

Keep for Cheap.
Keep for Cheap.Bethunni Schreiner, courtesy Keep for Cheap

by Jay Gabler

February 24, 2021

During The Current's spring member drive, we're highlighting eight Minnesota artists — from newcomers to veterans — with new music you need to know. We asked each artist to talk about their history in music, their new songs, and their hopes for the future. Today we're spotlighting St. Paul band Keep for Cheap.

On their sound

Lydia: My name is Lydia Williams. I don't know what kind of music we make. It's kind of folky. It's kind of poppy, but it's kind of rock and country. I play the drums.

Autumn: My name is Autumn Vagle. I am one of the lead vocalists, play guitar, and I helped write for the band as well. Yeah, Lydia summed it up. We like to say flower power, twangy rock; prairie rock, we like to call [it].

Kate: My name is Kate [Malanaphy]. I also sing and play bass and a little guitar. I write a little bit too.

Ted: I'm Ted Tiedemann. I am one of the other guitar players in the band.

Bert: I'm Bert Northrup, yet again another guitar player in the band. I think prairie rock really hits it on the head, but we've got the singer-songwriter roots to it, the folk, the country, the rock, a lot of punk through lines. I think there's a lot in there, something for everyone.

On their start as a band

Autumn: Four of us here went to Hamline University: me, Kate, Ted, and Bert. Then, Kate and I met in Hamline choir. We were sitting next to each other, and we both knew we were musicians, and both wrote songs, and we were just kind of like, "Wow, our voices blend really well." Honestly, that's how it started: the love of harmony. We just started jamming, and played a couple shows [as] just the duo, and then one by one, through mutual friends and just from knowing of each other, [we] added the other members to the group and Keep for Cheap was born in about 2018.

On their new music

Kate: We're really happy with the single "Forgive Me" that we did recently.

Autumn: I'm super happy with how well it's been received in the community.

Lydia: I also think it solidifies our transition of where we're trying to go.

Kate: Yeah, a good stepping stone for what's coming next, because we've got an album in the works now, which we're also really excited about. I think "Forgive Me" transitions well from the EP sound into this new album sound.

Bert: We've said before about the sound of "Forgive Me" that it really sounds a lot more like all five of us. It sounds like us, and not just songs that we kind of stumbled into making. If you listen to our EP, every song sounds super different. They sound great, but there's not a clear line of our sound. I think ["Forgive Me"] embraces more visceral, kind of heavy sounds in it while it's still really light, airy, and a beautiful song.

Autumn: To speak a little more on the EP, we came together and I had already had the majority of those songs written, just bare bones, which is why I think our [new] music does sound much more like us, because now we're writing as a full group. It's way more collaborative than the EP was. Now we're really building and growing together.

On challenges they've faced as a band

Autumn: COVID.

Kate: I think besides that — that's pretty standard — I think we have a hard time scheduling things. [That's] the first thing that comes to mind. There's five of us. It's hard to coordinate sometimes.

Bert: Especially when everyone was in school, that was almost impossible to find the time. I don't know how we did it. We had way less time when we were doing stuff all the time than we do now.

Autumn: Yeah, so certainly juggling school, the band, late night gigs, and then an early morning exam and stuff like that was a challenge. Of course, now I'm wishing that I had a late night gig and then work the next day. If only that could happen.

Lydia: I think also maybe skill level differences, a little bit, especially now, [writing] the album and stuff. Don't get me wrong, I think it's sounding great, but I think that that's definitely a bit of a challenge, just learning music stuff. Me and Autumn have not had formal training with our instruments. [This is our] first band for both of us.

On their future aspirations

Autumn: As soon as we can, we would love to tour. We've been talking with some people who can help take us across the United States, because we haven't toured at all. We played in Wisconsin. That's the only other place that we have played other than various parts of Minnesota. [We want to] tour and release this album. Honestly, [playing] any gig sounds amazing right now. I am hoping like for outdoor gigs. We'll see when that can happen.

Kate: I would honestly love to play in a basement again. I love playing in basements more than [in] actual venues. I miss the feeling of like just being crammed with a bunch of really cool people.

Autumn: Something in the DIY community because I've just missed the vibes there.

As told to Jay Gabler and edited by Sylvia Jennings