Fountain Square Music Festival: An Interview with Von Strantz

Today marks the start of the Fountain Square Music Festival! Over 25 bands will perform throughout the holiday weekend in various locations in Fountain Square. Von Strantz, a girl duet playing a variety of instruments, were kind enough to take time out of their busy tour schedule to answer a few questions. You can catch Von Strantz on Saturday, July 4.

How did you guys get started?

Jess Strantz: I started Von Strantz in the spring of 2012 as an idea, I was recovering from a car accident during that time and my injuries were pretty severe in my hands, so I couldn’t play music for about 4 months, during that time I theoretically wrote songs for Von Strantz, they had just not become a reality yet. I also met Kels during that time, so she knew me when my hands were still wrapped up in casts. We both had worked on a small musical project for our community back in South Bend, I was the musical director and she was my violinist/vocalist for that summer project. I loved working with her, so as soon as I was well enough to actually start playing the music I had been writing for Von Strantz, I asked her to join me, and she’s been by my side ever since, helping me arrange and even conduct our wide array of string section that appears on our records and sometimes even live.

How would you describe your sound?

JS: Whimsical, soulful, lush, dynamic, harmonious.

 Who are your musical and nonmusical inspirations?

JS: Radiohead. Portishead. Over The Rhine. Beck. Chemex coffee. Breakfast 6 times a day. Sunlight. Gustav Klimt. The 1800s. Musicals. Weightlifting. Oh, and people watching.

What is most important to you when writing songs?

 JS: We write our music first and then lyrics. Kels and I are classically trained musicians, so we learned at an early age how to express feeling and emotion in what we are playing, so then as songwriters we take the music we write and weave melodies into our songs that truly draw out the honest feeling and emotion in what the song is actually saying. We are always asking ourselves, “what is this song really about?”

You released “Narratives Chapter III: Eighteen Eighteen” not too long ago. What was different about this EP?

JS: This EP was all about discovery for us. Dan Dixon (from PLS PLS Atlanta), who recorded and produced this EP, was so much fun to work with, He really challenged us and drew out a side we didn’t know existed in us as artists. So it’s quirky and fun and we had an amazing time writing and recording it. It’s always awesome when you can find people to work with that really believe in you and bring out the best in you, especially when creating.

 What’s up next for Von Strantz?

JS: We recently made this kick arse music video with Joe Leavall for our song “1793,” which we will be debuting on July 10th at Flat 12 Bierwerks. It will be an exclusive live showing for Indy, and we will be announcing some really exciting news that night. I honestly feel like our music video will be pretty revolutionary and we can’t wait for everyone to see it. This will be our very first music video premiere.

How long have you lived in Indy or Indiana?

JS: 15 years total for Jess and for Kels, her whole life.

Where do you see Indy’s music culture going and do you plan on sticking around?

JS: Kels and I love Indy. We both are pretty new to the culture. We started playing shows in Indy in 2013, We’ve seen a lot of change and growth since then, which has been really exciting. I believe that as long as we, as musicians and artists, promoters, venues, businesses work together & support one another, Indy will be a top leading example of what a music culture should be and look like. We definitely will stick around.

What’s been your favorite part about touring?

JS: Our favorite part of touring is meeting our fans and getting to know them. There’s a reason they love our music and so we feel really connected, and want to know their stories. It’s really inspiring and an honor to hear someone’s story, truly humbling and beautiful. Kels and I also stay in host homes on the road, which deepens our relationship with people. We feel more connected to the world around us and we get to learn so much about different cultures and lifestyles. It also makes for some really great stories.

What are you looking forward to with the Fountain Square Music Festival?

JS: Honestly, just being with our friends and having this shared experience. We love so many of the bands who are playing, and the people that are involved with the festival. FSMF is going to be an exciting time and we love being part of something that is growing, creating a movement and bringing people together. We can’t wait to meet new people, hear new music and make new friends. It’s a beautiful thing and we are honored to be part of it.

See what Von Strantz is up to on Instagram!

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