Kelli Schaefer


Portland, OR

A few years disappeared into the forest of a global pandemic, but Kelli Schaefer and her brand new band trod through a new record this year, and it is expected to leap from the woods in 2023. With two full-length records and two EP’s already under her belt, her new record is another pivot in stylistic choice. This time, with a fresh take on the age-old singer-songwriter trope, Schaefer delivers haunting melodies over swirling woodwinds, piano, classical guitar, and upright bass. These songs could be the soundtrack to a modern gothic, a playlist for a trudge through the forest, the accompaniment to a subconscious mantra. As expected, Schaefer again demonstrates her refusal to confine herself to a single genre. Along with her bandmates Andrew Jones (bass), Ayal Alvez (piano, keys), Joey Binhammer (guitar), Schaefer is working to finish the record and planning tour steadily in the foreseeable future. The record was recorded live at Color Therapy with Ryan Oxford (Y La Bamba) and mixed by Alex Bush (Damien Jurado). In 2011, Kelli Schaefer released her first full length record Ghost of the Beast - a compilation of singles released throughout 2009 on the artist-run label Amigo Amiga Recordings. A surprising follow up to her 2008 Lasso the Moon EP, Ghost of the Beast is a haunting art-pop record with a backbone made of steel and distortion. Schaefer gained significant momentum in the northwest, and shared the stage with Damien Jurado, Wild Flag, and the Corin Tucker Band. She was included in Willamette Week’s “Best New Band” poll, with a music video featured on Paste, tracks featured on KEXP and NPR “Song of the Day,” and multiple regional festival appearances. In 2012, Schaefer took a step back from live shows to focus on her follow up, she found that she wanted to go in a different direction, which culminated in the release of an experimental, self-produced EP titled 601 in 2013. After that release, she joined with Ghost of the Beast producer Drew Grow, and her bandmates Jeremiah Hayden and 601 guitarist Ryan Lynch, she found her vision had shifted to a more conceptual, unhinged rock and roll sound. No Identity released early in March of 2017, and is darker than any of the previous records. It grows with confidence - but maintains a sense of humor. That confidence was hard-won over the 3 years working on the music. Coming out of the passing of her father and dealing with the unavoidable ripples from it, the record was as much shaped by life as life was shaped around the record. Mirroring the expansive noise and incisive shadow of PJ Harvey, with the fearless abandon of Nick Cave, and vocal play of Bjork, No Identity travels at light speed through the American landscape that so many left and forgot to examine. It is a genesis story marked with resolve and technical prowess - muscular guitar, rumbling bass, and vocals that bend over themselves and spring back to shape. In late 2017, Schaefer branched out again, working with electronic artist Mija, who remixed the final track from No Identity into a song which Spin said “splits the difference between Bjork & ODESZA,” while Pitchfork noted “Kelli Schaefer has some of the xx’s Romy Madley Croft’s velvet hush in her vocals.” In the track’s premiere, Noisey dug deeper into the intention of the song, saying “Schaefer's lyrics are an us-against-the-world sort of thing, singing about the ways that the shitty state of affairs can bind people together.”
Sun 3/26 8:50pm: Kelli Schaefer at The District
Kelli Schaefer