The Current

Great Music Lives Here ®
Listener-Supported Music
Donate Now

The Foxgloves bring their acoustic sound to The Current studio for Radio Heartland

The Foxgloves – studio session at The Current for Radio Heartland (music + interview) The Current
  Play Now [20:30]

by Mike Pengra

May 18, 2023

Steph Snow had an idea. “I really wanted to form a band that was all women,” she recalls. “I think there's a really good place for it here.”

After some social media posts and an informal meeting at the Como Tap in Minneapolis, the Foxgloves were formed. Ready though they were by March 2020, the band’s plans were put on hold for a couple of years. But then things really took off when the Foxgloves performed at the Blue Ox Festival in 2022. Just three years in, the six-piece Foxgloves have released an EP and a full-length album, and there’s plenty more where that came from.

The Foxgloves recently visited The Current studio to record a session with Radio Heartland’s Mike Pengra. Watch and listen to the full session above, and read an interview transcript below.

Six musicians gathered on and around a sofa in a recording studio
The Foxgloves performing in The Current studio for a session for Radio Heartland, on Friday, April 7, 2023.
Eric Xu Romani | MPR

Interview Transcript

Mike Pengra: I am thrilled to be in the studio today with the Foxgloves. They are a local, energetic, eclectic, talented band. And they've also done, they've got a EP out, they've got a single out, and then got an album out. And they've been on at the Blue Ox Festival before and you're going to be the Blue Ox again this summer. Holy cow, what a career! And it's only been — what? — three years now? Two years? How long you guys been together?

Sara Tinklenberg: Three years, but about one with this current version. So [bassist] Nyssa [Krause] joined us when literally when we were recording our full-length album last winter into spring. And this is the crew now, this is the group.

Mike Pengra: Tell me how the Foxgloves got started. Did you all know each other? Was it an idea of something to do on weekends or what?

Steph Snow: I put a post out on the social medias looking for women that wanted to start an all-women Americana folk country band. I had played primarily in in bands with a bunch of guys, which was wonderful, but I really wanted to form a band that was all women. I think there's a really good place for it here. And so I put it out there. People seemed interested, and that's how we got together. None of us had any paths that had ever crossed before, which is kind of cool to think about.

Mike Pengra: It's unique. And it's it's a good thing. Was that the intent, was to make an all- women band?

Steph Snow: Yeah. Yep.

Mike Pengra: And was there a musical style in mind when you started the band? Did you all want to do the same kind of Americana folky stuff you're doing now?

Steph Snow: I think we got together at Como Tap, a couple of us did, and had a beer and talked about the type of music we liked and like to play. And we went back to my house and I think one of the first covers that we played together was "Angel from Montgomery." And that seemed like a good fit for us, that Americana, folk storytelling genre.

Mike Pengra: Definitely. So the intent was always to be an all-woman band. So as someone who's been in a band with guys, how is this different?

Steph Snow: Don't tell my husband. (laughter) It's just different, you know, the sisterhood is real. It's something really special. And it's hard to even really describe how special it is to be in a band with all women supporting each other and lifting each other up. And when I was little, I don't ever remember seeing very many women onstage, and looking out into the crowd and seeing little people seeing a bunch of women on stage playing powerful music together is really, really pretty cool.

Mike Pengra: Great. So an EP out. A full-length album (Mama Was A Bandit) out, only in the first three years. Plans to record some more coming up soon?

Nikki Lemire: I think so. I think we've got, we've got a lot of songs kind of coming down the, down the pike. So I think we're hoping to do some more recording and some more writing together. We want to continue the story. So you gotta keep going.

The Foxgloves
The Foxgloves' album, "Mama Was A Bandit," released September 23, 2022.
courtesy the artists

Mike Pengra: How much of your repertoire is original?

Nikki Lemire: Everything.

Mike Pengra: Everything.

Sara Tinklenberg: Probably 90 to 95%, I'd say. We do, in a gig, two to three covers at most. There's some tremendous songwriters in this group that tell some pretty great stories with some pretty great notes. And from the get go, that's what drew me in, was some of the songs that were being produced by the group. And I still, I'm touched by the stories that they tell, and I think that's also very unique within this group is just really how powerful the music is when you sit and listen to the lyrics. And I appreciate that. This group is brilliant. I'm speaking of them. But that's been really exciting to be a part of. 

Mike Pengra: What's it like to bring a song to the band? The song as you've spent time in your kitchen writing or your bedroom or whatever? You bring it to the rehearsal and say, "Here's something I wrote, do you guys like it?" What's that feeling like? I've never done that before.

Nyssa Krause: Maura, you write a lot of songs.

Maura Dunst: Yeah, it's definitely a vulnerable moment because it's like, here's this thing that I'm proud of and I don't know that everyone will like it. You know, it's not objective. You know, it's it's deeply subjective.

Mike Pengra: I would think vulnerability is really the key.

Maura Dunst: Yeah, yeah. So, but it's also rewarding in a lot of ways because, you know, some things don't take, and that's fine. And you think they're a home run and it just doesn't catch anybody else's attention, you know? But then other things you bring to the table, and then the band starts arranging it, and it becomes like this whole other, you know, it gets Foxglove-ified, basically, and then becomes this whole other creature that you couldn't even imagine when you were just writing the melody and the chords and the lyrics, you know? So yeah, so it's, it's vulnerable and powerful both at the same time.

Mike Pengra: Everybody takes part in the arranging and the final production of it? That's great.

Maura Dunst: Yeah, everybody arranges it together. Yeah. So far, the songwriting has been mostly like bringing a finished, a complete composition to the band. And then we, everyone participates in layering on the harmonies and the instrumental parts and the rhythms and everything. Yeah.

Mike Pengra: So you guys were brand-new back when you first got to play at the Blue Ox Festival for the first time. What was that like?

Liz DeYoe: Nerve wracking. Exciting, but yeah, we were, we were very new and we could feel it. And there's a certain energy when you're a new band, that excitement, so it was, it was really fun. But we're, we are so excited to be back again this year. Now that we feel like we're seasoned professionals.

Mike Pengra: We've done this before.

Sara Tinklenberg: It was pretty awesome, though. Because you go in being brand new thinking like, "Is anyone going to come out to this backwoods stage in the daytime?" And people just started like flooding in. And there were several articles written about people being like, "Oh, I heard this and I heard cheering, and I had to go see what was going on." And the little girls, talking about representation, there was girls lined up, and we have some great pictures of little girls just holding on to the rail and, and it was just, we were swept away in just the emotion of it all and and I think left our mark. And that was really when, as a group, we started to get recognition about we were, we had something special. And so that, that I just, that I can feel it now, that people just coming in, and then it was the woods were full, and little girls were there. And it just was amazing. And now this year on the side stage, so hopefully there's even more people coming to see us, so.

Maura Dunst: It was really exciting because we had, we formed in, like, early fall of 2019. And we were just ready to start gigging in March of 2020.

Mike Pengra: Yeah, right...

Maura Dunst: You know, and we had some cool stuff lined up for the summer, and it all got canceled. And it was just kind of a heartbreaking thing, because we'd put so much work into it. And we were so excited to get out there. And then we had this long period of inactivity, largely, show cancellations. And then there was just a constant cycle of COVID exposures or whatever, people needing to quarantine; you know how everyone, everyone lived through that and so, not well, not everyone lived through that, cut that out. Everyone experienced that. And then to be able to come back in 2021, sort of with a vengeance in a way and play the Blue Ox stage was really so exciting and affirming to us, I think as musicians.

Mike Pengra: This is Radio Heartland. I'm in the studio with the Foxgloves today and we're talking about their kind of a short career to this point. But when you guys were on your way in, I was thinking about what is a foxglove? I knew it was a flower, so I looked it up and I got these really interesting definitions that a foxglove is "a plant with medicinal uses; it's attractive, healing and deadly in large doses." "Foxgloves are not dangerous to touch; still, if foxgloves grow in your midst, be sure to keep an eye on and young children or pets who tend to put things in their mouth." Last thing, "It's OK to have foxgloves in your garden, just keep them separated at least 20 feet from other plants." Does any of this describe you guys at all?

Sara Tinklenberg: I think that first part for sure. You know. And we don't want children and pets to come in and gnaw on us either, really. 

Mike Pengra: Seriously, how did you come up with the name Foxgloves?

Maura Dunst: That was a Steph thing.

Mike Pengra: Yeah?

Steph Snow: Yeah, that's one of my favorite flowers.

Mike Pengra: Yeah!

Steph Snow: Yeah. Oh, yeah. (whispering) It was one of my favorite flowers! (at volume again) I just really love Minnesota and the plants here and the nature here. And so when thinking about a all-women band, folk, Americana, I was like "We should do something nature and plant based," and it's one of my favorite flowers. And that it's beautiful and dangerous is also pretty cool.

Steph Snow of the Foxgloves
Steph Snow of the Foxgloves explains the origin of the band's name during a session in The Current studio for Radio Heartland.
Eric Xu Romani | MPR

Mike Pengra: I like that. That should go on your card and your poster.

Steph Snow: "Beautiful and dangerous."

Mike Pengra: Don't get too close.

Sara Tinklenberg: Yeah, can you can you give us a copy of that, those words? We're gonna put that right in our one pager.

Mike Pengra: So when you got together, and you were talking about the band, the various genres you play, is there anything missing from that list of genres that you're you're doing and your backgrounds that you kind of wish that will come up more? Is it more classical? More bluegrass? What's, what's next? What avenues haven't you discovered yet?

Sara Tinklenberg: A little Wilson Phillips. I think we all really love the tight, female harmony genre, whoever it may be. And so we try to build that in. And we are, you know, we just finished recording or putting that album out and, and giving it life. And so I think that's one of our goals now is to dig into some like covers that are really going to be more representative, because that will be, that will be nice, and...

Nyssa Krause: Liz and I both have jazz backgrounds, and I joined the band most recently. And so I think there's some opportunity for bringing a little bit of that into the country folk as well, which would be just kind of a new voice, too.

Mike Pengra: Yeah. I've heard you described as a bluegrass band and some article I thought, "No..."

Maura Dunst: It's not entirely true. Yeah. I think because of the Blue Ox stuff, and because of course, when we play a gig like that, or when we open for a bluegrass band, we lean on our bluegrass-heavy set. But that definitely doesn't encompass us as a band. We don't we're not afraid to have a classical sounding song, a slow song. Yeah, a folksy song, a bluesy sign. Yeah, we don't... 

Mike Pengra: So you do dig back in and play an old bluegrass standard or something every once in a while? Or a folk standard? Covers? OK.

Sara Tinklenberg: And some Grateful Dead.

Mike Pengra: Seriously?

Steph Snow: Yeah.

Mike Pengra: Wow.

Steph Snow: I love that, yeah.

Six musicians singing and performing on instruments in a recording studio
The Foxgloves performing in The Current studio for a session for Radio Heartland, on Friday, April 7, 2023.
Eric Xu Romani | MPR

Mike Pengra: Wow. That's great. You guys, it's been a real pleasure to talk to you. I am in the studio with Foxgloves and Radio Heartland. I would like you all to introduce yourself if you could, just starting over here.

Nikki Lemire: Sure. I'm Nikki Lemire.

Mike Pengra: OK.

Steph Snow: Steph Snow.

Liz DeYoe: Liz DeYoe.

Nyssa Krause: I'm Nyssa Krause.

Sara Tinklenberg: Sara Tinklenberg.

Maura Dunst: And I'm Maura Dunst.

Mike Pengra: And they are the Foxgloves. Thank you so much for coming in today. Good luck with the rest of your long career. And thanks for coming in. See you later.

Six women stand together on a stage for a portrait
The Foxgloves are, left to right: Nyssa Krause - Bass; Maura Dunst - Vocals/Fiddle/Mandolin/Guitar; Liz DeYoe - Guitar; Steph Snow - Vocals/Ukulele/Banjolele/Washboard; Nikki Lemire - Vocals/Harp/Autoharp; Sara Tinklenberg - Vocals/Percussion.
SmouseHouse Photography

Video Segments

00:00:00 Johnson City
00:04:09 Forget Me Not
00:07:51 Wild River Honey
00:10:48 Interview with host Mike Pengra

Band members

Nyssa Krause – bass
Maura Dunst – vocals, fiddle, mandolin, guitar
Liz DeYoe – guitar
Steph Snow – vocals, ukulele, banjolele, washboard
Nikki Lemire – vocals, harp, autoharp
Sara Tinklenberg – vocals, percussion


Guests – The Foxgloves
Host/Producer – Mike Pengra
Video Director – Eric Xu Romani
Camera Operators – Guillermo Bonilla, Erik Stromstad
Audio – Derek Ramirez
Graphics – Natalia Toledo
Digital Producer – Luke Taylor

The Foxgloves - official site

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.