Keiffer & the Curiosity Club
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Keiffer & the Curiosity Club

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Folk

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"Young Canadian Indie Folk Musician Keiffer Mclean Stays Curious"

Young Canadian indie folk musician stays curious
Keiffer McLean and the Curiosity Club plays shows at Musikfest
Keiffer McLean and the Curiosity Club performs at Musikfest Saturday.
Keiffer McLean and the Curiosity Club performs at Musikfest Saturday. (photo by GREG HUSZAR )
August 08, 2014|Taylor Farnsworth, Of The Morning Call
The exotic sounds of Middle Eastern music flowed like a serpent into the open window of a house in Saskatchewan, Canada. This music with pulsating drums would keep Keiffer McLean awake at night when he was a child.

"Life definitely was very musical," McLean says. "My parents were both in a Middle Eastern-style band, my grandma taught me piano when I was growing up and I joined choir when I was in high school."

nspired by his musical upbringing, McLean began performing as a folk musician. When he was 16 or 17 years he recorded a self-titled EP.

"The first EP I wrote, the songs weren't really completely finished," McLean says. "They're more poppy and more simplistic."

Four years after those first recordings, McLean, now 20, realizes his growth as a musician and progression since his teen years.

"The album that we just released is a lot more focused on the arrangements and there's a lot more instrumental work done," McLean says. "I started off really simple, I feel, but I got more into arranging."

On his album, "Drama in the Attic," McLean shows more depth and polish than on his EP. Taking cues from other folk-inspired musicians like Devendra Banhart and Shakey Graves, McLean draws you in with his distinctive vocals on 11 catchy tunes. Some songs show the young artist's depth, where others have a lighter, simplistic feel.

"I'm really inspired by stream of consciousness …and the classic events in my life kind of thing," McLean says.

As he continues to learn, he realizes how his songwriting process has changed.

"I found that a lot of the stuff I wrote before was restricted by structure and melodies and stuff and now I've been writing [lyrics] first," McLean says. "I'm being as honest as I can as a songwriter."

For a while, McLean was a solo musician. But he joined with other musicians to create a fuller sound.

"I guess why I wanted to play with the band was just to get out of my own shell and play with other people and allow them to influence the direction of where my music goes," says McLean.

At Musikfest, McLean will be part of a trio with himself on vocals and guitar, another local musician from his town on standup bass and McLean's father backing him with Middle Eastern percussion. McLean calls his band the "Curiosity Club."

McLean says the name the Curiosity Club means more than collective of musicians looking to experiment musically. A few years ago, he went to a concert at his younger brother and sister's school. Family neighbors began making jokes about the event and the name of a school club listed in the program.

"[My neighbor] has a great sense of humor and we were sitting next to each other and we laughed the whole damn concert at it inappropriately," McLean says. "So [the Curiosity Club] is actually named after a children's chess club."

Although McLean stole the name from the chess club, he has found deeper meaning in the name.

"It's random but it was relevant because the group is based on the trio and we play with guests a lot," McLean says.



McLean himself is also a curious individual, fond of exploring and meeting other creative types. From the circus performers he befriended at the beach, to a rap music video shoot he became involved with in the local music scene, he likes to stretch his comfort zone. Painting, yoyoing and yoga are just a few of his hobbies.

"I really like searching and adventure and weird stuff," McLean says.

In the near future, McLean hopes to work with a friend who is studying sound engineering in Vancouver on a new EP, and possibly record in the woods. - Morning Call


"Keiffer Mclean - Drama in the Attic - Folk & Country Reviews - Exclaim.ca"

by Mackenzie Herd

The future of Keiffer McLean is sure to be exciting. The 20-year-old, having already been a nominee for the Canadian Folk Music Award for "Young Performer of the Year," is full of youthful exuberance on his first full-length album, Drama in the Attic. The impressively mature McLean has decorated a uniquely floral soundscape with blooming trumpet accents and florid west-coast guitars.

The most notable aspect of Drama in the Attic is its campfire intimacy, doubtlessly affected by the family involvement of McLean's father Robert and great uncle Allan Muirhead on percussion and trumpet, respectively. McLean's advanced musings recollect universal experiences of love and family from a modern point of view with all of the apprehensive angst of early adulthood. The earthy undertones of growing are present throughout as McLean observes aging from both affected and unaffected perspectives.

Separate from themes of growth and decay are offerings like "Winter" and "Slow-Mo Ocean" that demonstrate the broad spectrum of unique instrumentation present on the album. Trumpets accent McLean's melodies on "Jive Turkey," while Jack Johnson-style acoustic riffs introduce almost every song.

Then there is of course the radio-friendly "Headful of Diamonds," which is by far the most contagious track. McLean's funnelled vocals begin in a removed reverberation, steadily brought into focus over the progression of an interacting melody of trumpet, toy piano and walking double bass. The bittersweet love song is alternative folk at its most infectious, with the pop shading bound to have the listener whistling the tune well before they know the words.

Keiffer McLean's surf-adjacent style is so west coast that it's surprising to discover that the long blonde-haired songwriter is from Regina, Saskatchewan. Adding to the bewilderment is McLean's age and composure. The composition of the album is steeped in tone and riff experimentation made impressive by his ability to craft a fascinating song without distancing the listener. McLean's talent begs to be displayed, and unfortunately he does himself a disservice by not exploring his vocal range. Still, the future of the Canadian alt-folk music is safe in the hands of McLean who, judging from the strength of this album, has plenty left to give.
(Independent) - Exclaim.ca


"There's a New Talent Lighting Up the Stage"

Back in the day, when the Cultural Exchange Society had a second storey location on 1856 Broad Street, I heard about this kid, a red hot guitarist, who was going to be introduced there. So, being a member, I went. I can’t recall who the headline act was that night, but this kid was sitting in the crowded room with his mother and sister. At one point in a set, the band brought him up on stage. He was all of 14 and shouldn’t have been in there at all, but the (ahem) ‘James’ family was well-regarded and no-one mentioned it. The kid played, blew everybody straight into blues heaven and a great talent was revealed.

Now, there may be another one. He’s young, and like Colin, he comes from a with-it, musical family. And, like Colin, he’s definitely got the licks and chops, finger style or plectrum. The genre is different though and is likely to evolve. Currently, it’s indie/folk/pop, which essentially means that technique and composition varies to complement the tune and the lyrics. But it’s his own arrangement of his own material. All informed by four years of experience on the guitar with very little instruction, a single one-day, song-writing workshop and some high-school choral experience. That’s it. Now, he’s launching a CD and looking for gigs. His name is Keiffer Mclean, and Buzzcity recently got him to talk with us:

Who were your musical influences?

“I started learning guitar four years ago. I didn’t really take lessons from anyone. I was just kind of picking it up from the internet. Jack Johnston, (Hawaiian, soft rock acoustic) was an early influence, and Ben Harper, (folk, blues, soft rock). And then I got into indie music. Now I’m into bands like Maps and Atlases, The Dodos and Beirut.”

How do you go about creating your songs?

“It’s different each time. The music depends on the song, and my music is evolving. It’s been going from pop to alternative music. Basically, it’s how I’m feeling when I sit down and think about things with a guitar in my hand. I read a lot of poetry and I like to explore perspective - how things work. My first album is indie/pop/folk. But I have a lot of songs I haven’t recorded. And they’re more along the lines of alternative folk.”

Is there a guitar style you’d like to explore?

“Flamenco. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Spanish guitar, mostly in my strumming, not so much for performing. But I’d really like to explore flamenco guitar. I’d actually like to compose some classical music on guitar. I do a little bit of classical composing on the piano but I’d like to do more on the guitar. Really, anything Spanish sounding. I like the rhythms.”

Keiffer McLean performed to an eclectic audience at the Artful Dodger, September 22nd for the “Playing for Change” fundraising event. Others that evening included red hot guitarists Ray Bell and George Leach. He even shared a set with Kerri Senkow and internationally renowned finger-stylist Bob Evans – and got compliments. Someone to watch? Stay tuned...
- Buzz City


"#RFF13 - Keiffer Mclean"

I interviewed Keiffer last year. He was a very nice young man.

It was at a launch event for BreakOut West, the music festival that accompanies the Western Canadian Music Awards every year. I had already talked to organizers of the festival and some of the musicians that would be featured in the line-up when I was approached by a rather aggressive fellow with, I believe, a goatee. He asked if I wanted to interview a young local musician who would be getting his first big exposure during the festival. I supposed I did.

Keiffer was very polite and answered my few questions with a smile on his face. I imagine he’s been smiling that way a lot this year; the young man I’d never heard of has traversed the province, playing a number of shows including the Ness Creek, JunoFest, and Gateway festivals in preparation for his turn at the Regina Folk Festival.

His web site says he got started early in a musical family and has command of a number of different instruments as a result. The songs of his that I’ve heard previously are sprightly, laid-back acoustic guitar and vocal pieces. Keiffer’s finger picking gives them a sense of vitality and buoyancy, contrasting nicely with his relaxed, natural singing.

Those qualities were displayed very directly in his three-song teaser set as well. Seated at the front of the stage, playing acoustic guitar as his only accompaniment, he sang three simply-structured but melodically sound numbers. His back-porch style of beachy folk music brings acts like Jack Johnson and his ilk to mind, apparently.

It sounds like his best is yet to come though. He reminded the audience that his smaller stage sets will feature a bunch of different instruments, like pianos and clarinets and whatnot. That sounds much more interesting. Either way, good job Keiffer! You handled the big stage very well, young man! - SoundSalvationArmy


"#RFF13 - Keiffer Mclean"

I interviewed Keiffer last year. He was a very nice young man.

It was at a launch event for BreakOut West, the music festival that accompanies the Western Canadian Music Awards every year. I had already talked to organizers of the festival and some of the musicians that would be featured in the line-up when I was approached by a rather aggressive fellow with, I believe, a goatee. He asked if I wanted to interview a young local musician who would be getting his first big exposure during the festival. I supposed I did.

Keiffer was very polite and answered my few questions with a smile on his face. I imagine he’s been smiling that way a lot this year; the young man I’d never heard of has traversed the province, playing a number of shows including the Ness Creek, JunoFest, and Gateway festivals in preparation for his turn at the Regina Folk Festival.

His web site says he got started early in a musical family and has command of a number of different instruments as a result. The songs of his that I’ve heard previously are sprightly, laid-back acoustic guitar and vocal pieces. Keiffer’s finger picking gives them a sense of vitality and buoyancy, contrasting nicely with his relaxed, natural singing.

Those qualities were displayed very directly in his three-song teaser set as well. Seated at the front of the stage, playing acoustic guitar as his only accompaniment, he sang three simply-structured but melodically sound numbers. His back-porch style of beachy folk music brings acts like Jack Johnson and his ilk to mind, apparently.

It sounds like his best is yet to come though. He reminded the audience that his smaller stage sets will feature a bunch of different instruments, like pianos and clarinets and whatnot. That sounds much more interesting. Either way, good job Keiffer! You handled the big stage very well, young man! - SoundSalvationArmy


"Keiffer & the Curiosity Club Release Single in Advance of Upcoming Album"

Regina folk artist to make appearance at Park(ing) Day festival in Saskatoon

Keiffer and the Curiosity Club have released their single “Headful of Diamonds” in preview of their upcoming album Drama in the Attic.

The indie folk project of Regina’s Keiffer Mclean, the group will be playing the Ominocity-sponsored Park(ing) Day stage this Friday, September 20 at 6pm.

Basing his songs off an acoustic guitar along with a wide range of eclectic influences, Mclean’s latest single features a simple, winding acoustic melody and plaintive vocal lines. The results are a devastatingly haunting prairies folk song.

“‘Headful of Diamonds’ will have a video as well,” says Mclean. “I am planning on doing a release party and a show in preparation for the CD release.

“I’m hoping that will happen in November or December.”

Mclean says that he will be heading into the studio to finish Drama in the Attic.

“This next album is going to be quite different from the last, which was a seven song EP where I played solo. Two of the songs from that EP will be completely redone. The newer songs will be longer, and it won’t necessarily be as poppy or upbeat.”

In addition to the Park(ing) Day Festival, Keiffer and the Curiosity Club will be playing in Regina at the Artful Dodger on September 21 as well as the Kindersley Culture Festival on September 27. - Ominocity


"Ever-morphing band Keiffer and the Curiosity Club playing Regina Folk Fest"

The only constant variable in the band Keiffer and the Curiosity Club is the young singer, songwriter himself, Keiffer Mclean.

Everything else — including the alternative-folk sound to the array of backup instruments — changes from show to show.

“There is always new members and different additions to the group as we go,” said Keiffer Mclean, the 19-year-old front man. “It’s ever-changing … whoever is in our path of musicality. Pretty much, I am the only core member.”


Within the past year, Mclean has played along with a stand-up bassist, a clarinet player from New Orleans and a trumpet player — which can be heard on Mclean’s newly-released single Headful of Diamonds.

Mclean has been spending the summer promoting the single, which will be on his forthcoming debut album — Drama in the Attic — set to be released by the fall, by visiting festivals around the province and playing on stage as much as possible.

“It’s our first year performing and we got to experience them all in a row,” said Mclean.

“We played the single at all the festivals — trying to get it out there.”

Mclean has already played Ness Creek Music Festival in Prince Albert National Park and the Gateway Music Festival in Bengough, Sask., and is now set to play Regina Folk Festival this weekend.

He will play a 15-minute main stage teaser between Hayden and Man Man before Feist takes the stage on Friday night, as well as participate in workshops and take on one of the small stages for a full hour on Sunday afternoon.

“This festival will be unique because it will be our first city festival and it will be in Victoria Park … we are really excited, especially at the lineup,” said Mclean.

“They have us playing like four times, so we will get to meet a lot of people.”

Other than bringing more attention to the music, Mclean says a big part of playing at festivals is the opportunity to meet and network with other bands — especially for a new artist like him who has only been playing for the past year.

“Not only do you get to meet these artists and jam with them and stuff, but find out who they are as people as well,” said Mclean, whose core music experience has been through choir, piano and jamming with his parents’ Middle Eastern belly dance band.

Regina Folk Festival artistic director Sandra Butel says it’s important to help develop young talent and give emerging artists a chance to take a professionally-managed stage as well as play with other musicians from out-of-town in the workshops.

“The hardest place for local artists to succeed is in their own town,” said Butel, “so being able to give them that support is very important to us.”

News Worth Sharing:


By Alyssa McDonald
Metro Regina
Connect with Alyssa Twitter Email
- Metro News


"Performance review for ‘City Slicker magazine"

“One of the highlights took place when Mclean brought out his ukulele as the audience couldn’t help but smile at the oddity of the mixture of cello, bongo, and ukulele, but it came together perfectly with the crowd joining in, clapping along. Mclean hit his stride with a cover of Johnny Cash’s “San Quentin”, and if you were still on the fence that changed with “Shoes”, whistling over a very memorable almost haunting guitar riff.

Closing the half hour set was “Thought Poacher”, another solid hit to go along with a great performance that the crowd loved, as the small venue got loud thanking Mclean for his start to the evening.”

- Chase Hussey - from a performance review for ‘City Slicker magazine’
November 26, 2012 - City Slicker Magazine


"The oh so talented Keiffer Mclean"

“One of Regina’s newest discoveries to hit the music scene, the oh so talented Keiffer Mclean is a joy to work with and to present. He has an easy, smooth style that is appealing to a wide age range and along with his pleasant, humble demure, he draws the audience in and holds them long after he’s done performing. During his live performance, you’ll find Keiffer gracefully going from one instrument to another with ease, releasing a sound that is clearly of his own making. You’ll experience influences of jazz, classical, pop and island rock all seamlessly sewn together with a subtle vibrato and cool swagger. It will be fun to watch him continue to develop and expand his possibilities....its all right there....”

- Carol Cairns - Executive Director - The Artful Dodger Cafe & Music Emporium - Carol Cairns - Executive Director - The Artful Dodger Cafe & Music Emporium


"Downtown Decibels by MusicReginaLive.ca [Songwriter’s Series II]"

Keiffer McLean is the definition of an artist. His sense of style, performance, and humour answer to no one. Keiffer has already established himself as an amazing singer-songwriter locally and beyond. I was very excited to hear the sort of tales which inspired some of his tunes. Keiffer did not disappoint. He told of us of his adventures hitch-hiking across Western Canada, ending up broke in Vancouver, busking for money, and trying to record music at night. If you knew Keiffer before and after this adventure, it feels like the experience altered his perspectives. Fortunately for us, he seems to have just used it as more fuel for his amazing talent. I was also very happy to hear Keiffer is no longer having issues with rogue cartoon character tenants.

Seeing Keiffer perform live is an absolute treat. His technically guitar ability is mixed with amazing passion. There is no one else I could truly compare Keiffer to, he stands as his own genre in a world where origionality is crucial. His deep voice booms out, and fills the room like a warm hug; and the whistling, this young man is the best whistler I’ve ever heard! Keiffer is about to head out on tour, we eagerly await his return to a Regina stage! - Regina Downtown - Chris Mercer


"Root Cellar - Review - Danielle Marion"

Drama in the Attic is the first full length album from Keiffer Mclean, and it is full of intimate but easygoing songs about love, life and family. Although he is only 20 years old, Keiffer has the kind of deep baritone voice that seems to belong to the expansive Canadian prairies. Each song is individually strong with interesting arrangements and very consistent vocals, but it takes until mid-way through the album to get a real sense of Mclean's sound. However, by the time "Headful of Diamonds" (a strong contender for a first radio single if there ever was one) comes on, the introspective and easygoing nature of the album is entirely clear.
Mclean's smooth deep voice creates an interesting contrast to the light and upbeat instrumentation throughout, and these textures come together to lend a meandering tone to the album which seems well-suited to a lazy summer afternoon - not only does Mclean utilize a variety of instruments (including keys, bass, clarinet, a tube, and a trumpet) but he released the album independently with the help of his father as co-producer and his uncle Al Moorhead (a well established Calgary-based Jazz musician). At 20 years old, Mclean may still be developing his sound, but there are many interesting lyrical and musical choices here that suggest that he is well on his way to becoming a mainstay in the Canadian folk scene. (Self-released, keiffermclean.ca) - Stylus Magazine


"Chris Mercer - Downtown Decibels"

Keiffer McLean is the definition of an artist. His sense of style, performance, and humour answer to no one. Keiffer has already established himself as an amazing singer-songwriter locally and beyond. I was very excited to hear the sort of tales which inspired some of his tunes. Keiffer did not disappoint. He told of us of his adventures hitch-hiking across Western Canada, ending up broke in Vancouver, busking for money, and trying to record music at night. If you knew Keiffer before and after this adventure, it feels like the experience altered his perspectives. Fortunately for us, he seems to have just used it as more fuel for his amazing talent. I was also very happy to hear Keiffer is no longer having issues with rogue cartoon character tenants.

Seeing Keiffer perform live is an absolute treat. His technically guitar ability is mixed with amazing passion. There is no one else I could truly compare Keiffer to, he stands as his own genre in a world where origionality is crucial. His deep voice booms out, and fills the room like a warm hug; and the whistling, this young man is the best whistler I’ve ever heard! Keiffer is about to head out on tour, we eagerly await his return to a Regina stage! - Regina Downtown


"FolkWorld"

This Canadian singer songwriter reminded me a bit of Devandra Banhart with his quivering voice and style, although he is a lot smoother on the ears than Banhart (not necessarily a compliment or a complaint). But as the album moved on with the basslines, brass work and other nice arrangement moves, he reminded me much more of Donovan. He has that easy-going thoughtful hippie voice who likes his beat jazz as much as his folk. Amazingly enough, Keiffer McLean is only twenty years old and co-produced this with his father. This is an accomplished album and should bring a smile to your face as you dig into these fine songs. - Folkword.eu


"Grimes, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kacey Musgraves, more: songs you need to hear this week"

Keiffer Mclean, 'Jive Turkey'

For being a landlocked province, Saskatchewan is sounding like a beach vacation getaway in this Searchlight entry from Regina's Keiffer Mclean. "Jive Turkey" gives you a laid-back jam from a guy who, though he sounds like he has the musical experience of a longtime veteran, is only 20 years old! — KM - CBC Music


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Old soul, baritone, beatnik-folk singer-songwriter from Regina SK, Keiffer Mclean began writing songs in his mid-teens and has since developed into a songwriting virtuoso who has made appearances at several high-profile festivals, including Folk Alliance International, Musikfest, Prairie Barge Festival, Lilac Festival, CMW, Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Regina Folk Festival, Gateway Festival, Ness Creek Music Festival, and JUNOfest. He is a two time nominee in the Canadian Folk Music Awards ‘Young Performer of the Year’ category.

Keiffer had a very successful 2014 with the release of his debut full-length album Drama in the Attic (March 18, 2014). The album is a strikingly lush and original listen that received recognition from the 2014 Canadian Folk Music Awards garnering him a nomination in “Young Performer of the Year” category, as well as strong praise from international media:

Kayla Beattie of BeatRoute raved, “This album would be the perfect soundtrack to a lazy day, while you soak up the sun on the bow of a boat that’s rocking back and forth on calm waters, sipping spiked lemonade and wishing the summer (and the album) would never end.”

Thomas Keller from folkworld.eu said, “He has that easy-going thoughtful hippie voice who likes his beat jazz as much as his folk…This is an accomplished album and should bring a smile to your face as you dig into these fine songs.”

Mackenzie Herd for Exclaim.ca said, “The composition of the album is steeped in tone and riff experimentation made impressive by his ability to craft a fascinating song without distancing the listener.”

Coming from a musical family, Keiffer is adept at a variety of instruments, having played the accordion and slide whistle to several songs on Drama in the Attic. But in addition to his own contributions, Keiffer is joined by several accomplished musicians, including his uncle Al Muirhead, a Calgary-based jazz musician who has played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Diana Krall, Paul Anka and Tommy Banks.

“I was attempting to write songs in a different manner, trying to find new methods,” says Keiffer. “For example, the song ‘Jive Turkey’ was originally about a friend of mine. I was busking at the time. I had a bunch of songs but they were really too long for people who were passing by to catch anything memorable. I needed a song to catch their attention so I started singing the poem.”

 “I started writing songs when I was 16 and now that I am 20 I am already looking at music with a whole other viewpoint,” he says.

 "It’s your old self but it’s your new self.”

 Another major highlight from last year includes a performance at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA along with six more tour dates in the USA. Amy Freedman of wtop.com caught their show in Washington and said, “I have the opportunity to hear lots of emerging bands and solo artists. It’s extremely rare that one completely stops me in my tracks. These guys have that hard to describe something…completely unique yet somehow familiar.”

 

2015 has been off to a great start with showcases at Folk Alliance International, a video distribution deal with Pulse Records for song “Headful of Diamonds”, and licensing song “Jive Turkey” with feature-length film Basic Human Needs (Basic Human Needs Productions Inc.).

 

 

 

Band Members