Interviews — March 11, 2016 at 10:00

Whosah

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Emphasizing the importance of creating relationships through music, Minnesota indie-pop band, Whosah, describes itself as “personal pop.” Whosah is a fun combination of indie, synth-pop, electronic, and rock.; single, “Ghost Town,” is simultaneously upbeat and pensive. They’ve played with major names, including Mat Kearney and Betty Who. Whosah combines the dance-pop fun of Walk The Moon with the brooding warmth of The 1975, and their new EP is dedicated towards understanding the tension between the purpose of daily routine and the desire for life beyond the known Their sophomore EP, Work, will be released on March 11th. In the meantime, we found the time to speak with Whosah about their plans for touring, as well as future album plans.
Confront: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Could you tell our readers how you got your start?
For a while, and maybe it was a couple years or something- we were kinda like a jam band that played out probably a few times a week/ month, and never did any “booking” as much as we just fielded requests from random people whose events happened to need a band (fundraisers, talent shows, block parties, even a few county fair festival floats).
Somewhere along the line (maybe early 2013), we started talking to a local producer named Aaron Ankrum, who for some reason, really wanted to invest in us. He helped us hone our sound, helped us decide what we wanted the vibe to be, and most importantly just taught us that hard work is directly proportionate to the amount of success and/or enjoyment we’d get out of being a “real” band. He shot down tons of demos and made us write more songs, made us practice in the dark, assigned us to professional touring musicians for lessons, and really just forced us to decide whether we wanted to do this thing or not. Since we started making that record, we’ve been booking and promoting all our own shows, designing / hand making all of our own merch, making our own website, teaching ourselves how to create our own synthesizers,etc – and every moment and connection that has made through this band makes worth the effort.
Confront: You probably get this question a lot; what’s the meaning behind your band name?
The name is not a word, but it sounds like a word that’s fun to say but has an element of curiosity to it. Although we started with it a long time ago pulled from a game of Banana-grams or something, we feel it still captures the persona of our group.  It makes a great conversation starter when making friends / meeting people at shows.
Confront: You describe yourselves as “personal pop.” How do you go about cultivating a relationship with your fans, and how are your lyrics affected by this emphasis on relationships?
We happen to love how pop music sounds. We play music that is listenable to a wide variety of people, but we feel like- if you’re going to be on stage, you might as well have something to say worth talking about. We use our music to tell people about our lives and experiences in an open and honest way that invites other people to share their own stories with us after the show. Some of our songs emphasize that we’re not that big of a deal; nobody on earth is that big of a deal, and as flawed human beings on this earth we’re all in that journey together.
Confront: Who are your musical inspirations?
You’ll get a slightly different answer depending on who you ask from the group. We all relate to well-written pop music, but come at what Whosah creates from all kinds of unique angles.
Spencer: Twenty One Pilots makes me want to be myself. Which makes me want to make music that I put all of myself into, they’re a huge inspiration to me. I also am in love with an artist named John Mark McMillan just for his earthy way of talking about deep, intangible things. I also pull influence from a lot of musicians we meet on the road; right now that’s mostly Carter Hulsey, Marina City, and a guy named My Brother the Bear.

Mack: Justin Timberlake is an OG with super suave melodic deliveries. I love guitar tones and grooves from The Strokes, and singer-songwriter Ben Rector’s music tells stories with more honesty than Abe Lincoln himself. Also Phil Collins has some serious jams.

Dallas: Michael Jackson, The Strokes, Smallpools, The Wombats, Great Good Fine Ok

Nate: Keith Urban, The Starting Line, Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift

Dave: Most consistently inspired by 80s pop (such as Toto and the Police) combined with modern flavors like The 1975 and Paperwhite. I also love some of the chill, new “‘verbed out” stuff people are doing, like Aquilo, Purity Ring, and Troye Sivan.

Confront: Who would you most want to tour with, and why?
We love playing shows shows with The Millenium and John Chuck & The Class- so we definitely wanna keep that going. As far as dream shows go- undeniably the answer would be Michael Jackson. Slightly unattainable, but hey. That’s the dream.
Confront: What was the writing process like for your new EP? Do you have any plans for a full-length album?
We happened to end up playing a show one night early last year with a producer/ songwriter out of Nashville named Chase Coy. He came up to us after our set and told how pumped he was about what we’re doing and how much love to work with us. The result was one of the most inspiring experiences we’ve ever shared as a band- jumping in the van on a 1- day vacation to Nashville to work on songs about what real life is like. We like to go into the studio with the mentality that nothing is sacred and the best idea wins, and the songs that came out of working with Chase brought us to a much more satisfying place than we ever thought we’d get to.
For the next, next record, we’re in talks with our local Mpls [Minneapolis] friends at a place called Humans Win about a full length. Some local buds of ours in Step Rockets, Bora York, and John Chuck & The Class have all had great experiences and results working with them- and we can’t wait to collaborate towards an even more creative, expansive, and live-sounding record next time around.
Confront: How would you describe the music scene in Minneapolis?
From what we’ve been noticing, the Mpls scene is definitely on an upturn. There’s an incredibly rich amount of great local bands who care about creating great live art and doing so in a collaborative community. Bands are always playing on each other’s release shows, co-writing, and advocating for each other online. It feels like every day we’re discovering a killer new local band with a great vibe happening, and as they start being added to bills and playin around the region, it’s fun to watch everybody vying for their friends in other bands around them to succeed. Its a really great place to be socially and creatively these days.
Confront: Where would you love to play? What has been your favorite venue that you’ve performed at?
As we’ve been traveling around more, some of our favorite environments are the ones where everybody in the whole region goes to this one bar to hang out on a Friday night. When there’s a whole cornucopia of different kinds of people young and old collected in the same area for a good time? We can always get behind that. We love being a part of places where the audience is there with people they care about, having a great time, and maybe even wanna check out a new band.
Some of our favorite venues have been on a festival dates- once with Betty Who, another time with Mat Kearney, and being direct support at a Minneapolis venue called Mill City Nights. In general we also just love playin in grungy basements packed to the walls that should’ve been condemned years ago- those ones get us pumped to put on our best for sure. Like we’re a football team playin on a rainy, beat-up, patch o’ dirt practice field.
Confront: If you could perform a cover of a song, what would it be?
Usually our mentality with cover songs is if we wanna do a cover, we just do it and make it own for a while to see what sticks in the set rotation. Covers can be a great way to relate to new listeners who don’t know any of our songs, and we usually like to bring it back in time, ’cause who doesn’t love nostalgia?  A couple times a year we get hired to play weddings for people, so that means we love playing anything top 40 all the way to Motown classics. Some of our favorites these days to play live are “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money, “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, and (definitely Mack and Nate’s favorite) “Piña Colada” by Rupert Holmes.
Confront: What are your upcoming tour plans? Will you be hitting the summer festival circuit?
So far over the past 18 months, we’ve been focusing on the midwest pretty hard. We’ve been through IL, OH, IN, MI, IA, WI, SD pretty regularly every 3-5 months pretty regularly to try to build some regional momentum and establish lasting relationships with our local region. This summer, we’re looking to collaborate with a few bands from further out east, maybe even as far as the East Coast and start putting together some longer runs further from where we live. There will probably be some festival spots sprinkled in there as well.
The harder we worked on all of those things, the more we found that even though sacrifices of time and resources were made, we were always satisfied with the moments and the new experiences which were harvested from that work.
Watch Whosah’s moving picture video for “Ghost Town”:

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