Kelley Stoltz Shares Some Secrets to Home-Recording, Gears up for a few Summer Shows with Jack White May 13 2014, 1 Comment

by DeadWeatherDenver

You know that feeling of being late to the party? Well that's my relationship with Kelley Stoltz.  

Saw him open for the Raconteurs in 2006, liked him at the time and promptly forgot about him until SXSW 2014 when we saw him at Third Man’s pop-up showcase and I became completely smitten. Offbeat, witty and charming, Stoltz did not fail to entertain and I came home determined to learn more about him. Considering I completely overlooked his Third Man Records LP release Double Exposure last year better late than never, right? 


Detroit-born & bred turned Bay Area performer, Stoltz is a multi-instrumentalist guru of home-recording whose unique style has earned him a strong local following and the respect of his peers.   

Fresh off a lengthy European tour, he has graciously agreed to answer some of my questions…

You semi-recently parted ways with Sub Pop- label for your past few albums- and released Double Exposure through Third Man Records. How do you think that change impacted this release? How was your experience creating under the Third Man Records umbrella? 

It was a very easy transition... I had signed to do three subpop lps and we did that - i had a good relationship with them, and though it was kinda strange being let go it was sort of pre-ordained.  If i had sold more records they wouldve kept me.  In the time after that I had sent the record to some friends at third man - more because they were curious than anything and fans, so when they called to say they wanted to put it out i was thrilled.  

It’s my understanding that you moved from more of an apartment-based recording setting to a garage studio for the recording of Double Exposure. Do you feel that change of space provided a different perceived sound to your audience? Did it change anything about your process?  

No not really, it just gave me more room for more stuff.  I was tripping over cables less so maybe that made for a more relaxed approach. (:  Soundwise i could experiment with mics further away rather than close micing everything due to space.

'Kim Chee Taco Man’ is one of the quirkiest videos and songs I’ve heard in the past few years- in a totally great way. What was behind the idea to release it as the lead single from Double Exposure?  

It was the easiest to make a video for - I just decided it would be a fun weird visual introduction to the album.  In retrospect, it mightve put some people off to what the rest of the album was about.

You have been home-recording and playing most instrumental tracks yourself for some time now. Given the accessibility of current technologies and the DIY element of today’s music scene, many new artists are utilizing these techniques to record and self-publish. What advice would you have for newbies attempting to self-record their own material?  

Just concern yourself with the melody and the song and the joy of it.  Dont get caught up in how or where you record or onto what medium.  Have fun and experiment... and work at it everyday.

As multi-instrumentalist for the majority of your recordings, touring must be another matter entirely. Do you generally travel with the same core bandmates?  

Yes, there have been changes over the last 15 years of course, but the core group i have now has been with me for several years. 

I had the pleasure of seeing you in 2006 when your performance was definitely more keys oriented. Caught you again recently at Third Man Record’s Pop-Up Store in Austin for SXSW and noticed you were primarily playing guitar. What motivated that change?  

I had a piano for the first time in my life in early 2000's so I taught myself to play it and after years of just writing on guitar, it was real nice to change my approach. Plus I was in a heavy Harry Nilsson and Beach Boys stage so I wanted to write those kind of songs. 

I love your little stories and anecdotes intermingled with your music. How has that charming stage banter evolved?  

I was always interested in comedy, and have tried to make people laugh my whole life.  If the humorous banter is flowing its a good gig for me, if im quiet - I'm probably struggling inside.

I’ve read that you started writing songs in your 20s and believed you were ‘behind the curve’ so to speak. Considering you felt you got a bit of a late start, how does it now feel to be considered an ‘elder’ in a way in the Bay Area music scene?  

Its nice I guess, I think I just influenced some people to do their own thing and record at home and maybe add a bit of quality to their songs.  Some have gone on to way bigger things than me.   

When you’re in the process of writing, what are your creative catalysts?  

Just sitting with a cup of tea and strumming or playing a drum beat and hoping a melody will come and when it does its best to move fast.   

Your 2006 album ‘Below the Branches’ made history by being the first release to make an on-package renewable energy claim utilizing the Green-e logo. Are you still practicing ‘Green techniques’ in your performing, recording & touring?  

Not really, sadly - I kind of lost my way with details like that - I had a friend who was managing that aspect of my career - and on my own its enough to do the art and the songs and the managerial things. I still do what I can in more modest ways, like offsetting air travel.

I’ve heard you were ‘raised on Monty Python’ and are a fan of Ricky Gervais. Do you by chance watch any of Karl Pilkington’s shows? Between an ‘An Idiot Abroad’ and ‘The Moaning of Life’, which would you prefer?  

Monty Python - there the Beatles of that world for me.  Though I cant wait to see the new Steve Coogan "Alpha Papa" movie.

You’ve just wrapped up a pretty major European/UK tour… what does the remainder of 2014 have in store?  

Some shows with Jack White and a few festivals around California.  Maybe another set of dates and then try to make a new record, before I get too much older.

Thanks so much to Kelley for taking the time to indulge my inquiries. And now, what you've all been reading for! Kelley answers THE OFFICIAL FIVE WAX O’S GOTTA KNOW QUESTIONS!

1) First vinyl memory? 

Buying a 45 of "another One Bites the Dust" by Queen and ordering kind of blindly from Columbia Record Club... I ended up with some Foreigner and other things only cause I'd heard their name on radio.

2) What is an album you regularly spin for your own enjoyment? 

Zoot Sims "Zoot!"

3) What was the last album you added to your collection? 

Green On Red "Gas Food Lodging"

4) What was your favorite album or new artist from last year?

I loved John Krautners new album, it'll be out soon. 

5) What artists are you looking forward to hearing more of this coming year?

Dylan Shearer, Danny James, Dirty Ghosts. Ezra Furman.