Who doesn’t love a good story? Jess Strantz of Von Strantz, is perfecting the art and combining it with the musical talents of Kelsey Horton. Sounds of mandolin, violin, bass and cello. A sound they describe as folk n’ roll. A very indie folk feel but the instruments will bring you in hard and that’s where you get your roll. The songs resonate with me on these levels of understanding and an emotional pull brings me into the lyrics and each sound of those intelligent acoustics. There is a sense of class with these two you don’t see much. They have an understanding of the music they are creating and each note played contributes to the beauty of the outcome. The duo has been playing together for a couple of years and touring extensively, with shows all over the U.S. and only a few nights in between, if at all. They love the energy of the audience and meeting with fans, connecting with them, listening to their own stories they have to tell. Catching up with Jess in between that busy schedule, she let me into her mind for a bit to answer some questions…
-Von Strantz is?
Kelsey Horton & Jess Strantz
-How did you two meet?
We met in the spring of 2012, I had recently been in a car accident which left my hands in a state of uselessness. I was working on a community music project and needed a female musician/vocalist to assist me. My friends and co-workers at the time suggested Kelsey. I reached out to her and she accepted my invitation to work with me. During my recovery time I started the concept for my band Von Strantz and as soon as I was well enough to perform music again I once again reached out to her and invited her to join my band, and so we dreamed up future goals and officially debuted Von Strantz in winter of 2013 and then the rest is history. Our working relationship has led us to one of the most joyful and life giving friendships I’ve ever had in my life.
-How did you adapt your sound?
Since the start of Von Strantz, we’ve always had in mind working with and collaborating with other musicians because the goal for us is to have a very large and powerful sound. Over the past few years we’ve had the privilege of working with many talented musicians. So for three years we’ve experimented a ton and by creating multiple parts, arranging, and then spending time recording, the current sound of Von Strantz is the result. However Kelsey and I are never really fully satisfied, especially as creatives, I think that is what keeps us moving forward. We are always searching for that perfect sound.
-Your lyrics have a deep and powerful pull as well as the music you play. What is your process like for writing a song?
We are very intentional about the way our songs sound, not just in our recordings, but also live. We usually write music first, sit in it for a while, listen to what the song is saying, really get to know the song. Then we find a way to pull the true meaning of the song out in lyrical form, along with the melodies and arrangement. Our songs are always morphing too. The tempo will change, the song will go from 4/4 to 3/4, sometimes the song starts off minor and then becomes major. Since we’re just a few years into our project, we’re always discovering new ways to write together. We never want to limit ourselves either. It’s a beautiful challenge, not an easy task, but we both can be honest in saying, we put a lot of love and hard work into every song we write, record and perform.
-Being on the road with so much touring, what is it that you love about that?
We LOVE being with our fans! It’s always exciting when you arrive to a city or town and meet the people who connect deeply with your music AND support you. We are so thankful, without our fans we wouldn’t be able to do what do. We enjoy discovering different cultures & hearing people’s stories. We are suckers for stories, and finding commonalities. It really takes your perspective to a whole new level. I internalize things a lot, and touring really helps take the focus off of myself and see the world around me. I really appreciate the people we have met and continue to know on the road.
-Sharing the stage with so many great artists through festivals, what was your favorite experience doing so?
Sharing the stage with Crystal Bowersox was definitely one of our faves! We were invited to open for her at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA. The crowd was so much fun and super energetic, and Mia Sharp & Linda Taylor also played that show! Crystal was so gracious to us, she invited all of us on stage to perform her last song. It was such a magical moment because we love and admire Crystal, Mia and Linda so much. When the night was over and we hopped in the van, Kelsey and I were almost speechless to have literally shared that moment on stage with some of the greatest female songwriters and musicians of our time.
-Are you working on an album now?
Always. Haha. We write all the time. But you can definitely expect new music announcements from us summer 2016.
-Where is your favorite place to play your music?
House Shows are our ultimate favorite and WE love playing in Atlanta, Colorado Springs, and Indianapolis.
Check them out on their website and get all the tour info and updates. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for everything Von Strantz. You can find and purchase their folk rock EP, Narratives Chapter III:1818 through these websites as well on iTunes, Googleplay, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify & Pandora. A BIG thank you to Jess Strantz for this interview!