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Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | SELF

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Band Pop Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




It was obvious Billy Schoenburg (Class of 2009) was passionate about performing when he attended Keith Country Day School. The former AP Scholar and regular on the Head of School’s list was a Triple Talent recipient, a primetime player in most high school productions and a leader of the student-led a capella group, Basil.

Recently Billy’s band, SCHOENBURG, released their second album, Hydrophobia & Identity Insecurities. Last month, the CD was reviewed by Here is a link to Billy’s interview with the site.

Billy sent an email to the Keith faculty just before the release of the CD. He stated, “I just wanted to give an update to the group of people that gave me the encouragement and support needed to keep after this whole music and songwriting thing. I honestly would be nowhere without the community that you guys created for me.” - Keith Country Day School

"SCHOENBURG on Short, But Sweet, and why Paul Simon is "next level sh*t""

?"I knew about that band before they were big," is a commonly heard motto among music diehards -- hence you may want to know about SCHOENBURG. The Twin Cities band's new EP Short, But Sweet is filled with glowing new sounds, exciting slight-acknowledgements to old ones, and a sense of feeling that is absent from most fluff pop songs.

The band is set to release their first EP this Friday, and Gimme Noise caught up with Billy Schoenburg before the show at Honey.

Band Members:
Billy Schoenburg
Dane Hoppe
Graham Wakeman

Gimme Noise: You describe the music as reminiscent of Paul Simon lyrically. Was this conscious when you were writing?

Billy Schoenburg: Honestly, no. After we started recording some of the tracks, we sat down and listened for "influences." The question you always hear is, "Who does it sound like?" We heard a little Paul Simon. His lyric, form, and melodies are simply sound. Listening to him taught me a lot about songwriting, and I think that shows up every now and then in the songs. I mean, we didn't hop in the studio and say, "Hey, let's write some Paul Simon." I guess when you're working on a craft, the things you love can be heard in that craft. I'm not sure it's something you can avoid or aim for. Plus, I feel really weird comparing myself to Paul Simon. He's some next level shit.

A few of the pieces remind me of Vampire Weekend; are there any artists that you never want to be compared to? Anyone with whom you would be honored to share a genre?

When I started writing songs I liked, I kept telling myself that they were "folk" songs, because I was playing an acoustic guitar and singing like a white boy. I avoided the term "pop" like the plague, because in high school that felt like a dirty word. But pop is awesome, and there is some amazing songwriting in pop -- and people like pop. Anyway, I'd say pop/folk is more accurate to the sound. Most pop artists people have heard of do have redeeming qualities, otherwise they'd be unknown. That's my long-winded way of saying that you can compare us to anyone, and I'll probably just be happy you're talking about us.

The new album is called Short, But Sweet; does this pertain to both the album and the songs?

Short, But Sweet is really just a little collection of tunes that I though were well written, cute, and short. You can listen through in twelve minutes. It's refreshing. I like that. We're actually finishing up a full-length in the next couple of months called Hydrophobia & Identity Insecurities, due out on July 4. We seriously can't wait for you to hear it, both in terms of songwriting and production. Expect the single in a month or so.

What was the story that you wanted to tell with Short, But Sweet?

The goal is to release a set of songs that are well crafted, short, and sweet. There is a tone of innocence throughout the EP. I mean, there's a love song that revolves around the exchange of Chapstick. I think the main theme is innocent love, and how exciting those first exchanges in young romance can be, even if those exchanges are as trivial as swapping ChapStick or your first sleepover.

What is the band's background in musical tastes and aesthetics?

Graham and Dane were actually in a technical band together during their high school days in Michigan, which I always think is badass. They are really well-versed musicians with Graham being a guitarist and Dane being a drummer. Both can play anything you want from metal to jazz to pop to rock to folk. They just have good ears. I learn things every day from having them around.

I was classically trained in violin, viola, and flute from a really young age. I also taught myself guitar when I was seventeen, so I could start writing songs.

Did you all meet at McNally? What did you study that drew you to each other to start creating music?

I met Graham freshman year at McNally because we lived on the same floor of our apartment complex. When Dane came to t - Citypages/GimmeNoise

"SCHOENBURG on Sufjan Stevens, adulthood, and his record label"

Billy Schoenburg may be one of the hardest working musicians in the Cities. On any given
night of the week, the singer is seen working at a venue or out enjoying a concert. Along with his bandmates, Graham Barton and Dan Hoppe, Billy's band, SCHOENBURG, will be releasing their second album this year. Hydrophobia & Identity Insecurities brings out a mature approach that tells of a young group in transition from youth into adulthood.

Gimme Noise spoke to Billy prior to his album release at the 7th Street Entry on what he's learned in the DIY business model and how Sufjan Stevens colors his music.

Gimme Noise: Billy, you do a lot of work in the local music business. How important do you fell it is to integrate yourself into the local music scene here?

Billy Schoenburg: I think it's pretty necessary. I work at a couple venues and have tour managed for a few artists around town. I feel like each job, gig, and volunteer opportunity is just another puzzle piece. Trying to figure out what I'm putting together has been the real adventure. All I know is that there's a lot I don't know and every time I work a show or event that gap closes a little bit. Also, it helps to show your face as often as you can if you're trying to book shows, get in with press, or work with other artists in the area. People take you more seriously if they know you're out five nights a week at shows.

What made you release a full length this time around?

We actually worked on this LP at the same time that we made our EP, Short, But Sweet. Over the past couple years I wrote all of these songs and they just developed into two separate projects. While we were in the studio working on Hydrophobia and Identity Insecurities, we were also working on the EP at home during late nights. Since the EP was half the length of Hydrophobia we had time to make it our first release.

Do you feel this album is an extension of Short, But Sweet?

Not really. Short, But Sweet is just a small collection of tunes that I thought were short, sweet, and simple. They went well together. Hydrophobia and Identity Insecurities is more about me growing up. The themes are still simple and the melodies are still poppy, but the songs relate more directly to stuff that I went through over the past few years.

What were you able to do on this album that you weren't on the last album -- storywise and otherwise that were left on the table with the last album?

The big things were arrangements and lyrical depth within the songs. On the EP the tunes were stripped down to a guitar and vocals, which worked really well for those songs. On Hydrophobia, everything is fuller. It revolves around the sounds and abilities of our collective trio instead of the sound of one voice.

Who was influencing you creatively when you were writing for Hydrophobia?

Even though it rarely sounds like it, Sufjan Stevens is someone I always look to -- especially his earlier stuff. Some of the folkier tunes on the album you might hear that in, but I am not about to suggest that any part of my songwriting could really compare to his. He's just a songwriter that I really respect. A lot. Also, when I was writing a good portion of the tunes I was just discovering Jeremy Messersmith. I remember thinking, "This dude writes some good songs." Seeing how active and accepted he's been in the local scene has also really encouraged me to keep going with the songwriting game.

What's the story behind the title Hydrophobia & Identity Insecurities?

It's ultimately about overcoming. That's the biggest theme in the album. If you go down the list of tracks, each one touches on getting past something, whether that's love lost, making a new life in a new place, or oil spills. Hydrophobia specifically refers to the song "Deepwater Horizon," a song about the BP oil spill a while back, told from the oil's perspective. I remember questioning why oil is so criminalized by public opinion. Obviously it's a dirty, nasty thing, and obviously BP took responsibility for it, but I think a lot of people see the pelicans soaked in oil and the ruined beaches and just place blame. The oil didn't ask to go anywhere. It was super happy underground. We brought it above water. We messed up and let it loose in the ocean. That stuff is literally hydrophobic. It won't mix with water. That's a weird way of looking at it, but we and the oil obviously overcame. It's still being used in cars, and we have come up with newer and bigger problems to worry about as a country.

Identity Insecurities just sums up my struggles with figuring out who the hell I was when I apparently entered adulthood.

A lot of DIY went into the process of the new album. Why did the band decide to go this route, and how did everyone contribute?

Well, we created a label when we released our last EP. One of the things we decided we really wanted to do was make it centered around doing (almost) everything in house. In a world where no one has practical use for a CD, we think its important to put a lot of thought and love into that packaging and all the other merchandise that goes with it.

The members of the band are Me, Graham Wakeman, and Dane Hoppe. Dane and Graham tracked the album, the three of us arranged and performed everything on the album, Graham produced, mixed, and mastered it, and we collectively did all of the design and assembly of the physical package (with some help and advice from CopyCats Media, Big Table Studio in St. Paul, and Northwest Graphics). It's nice when it comes time to put album credits in the liners and you only have to use three names.

What have you learned about releasing an album since last winter?

A lot. We started with practically no knowledge of what goes into fully putting together an album and its release. As we approach September we have a lot of ideas of what we can do better next time around, and what we did really well on these first couple attempts. Again, we are putting together all these little puzzle pieces, and by our next release I think we are going to have a considerably easier time figuring out where they all go.

What can we expect at the album release show?

Good up-and-coming songwriters. The support lineup is Kara Laudon, SuperChris (Chris Cote), and John Mark Nelson. I am increasingly surprised by how great those three are at writing songs. It makes it really hard for us to want to follow any of them up. Sincerely.

It's at the 7th Street Entry, so anyone familiar with the room knows it has one of the best vibes in town, as well as the best sound. We are going for concise sets and quick turnovers from act to act.

Expect SuperChris to wear a cape, expect Kara to melt your hearts, and expect John to tell you stories that you'll get lost in. Oh, and I guess SCHOENBURG will then try to tie that all together. As a side note, there will be a kickin' after-party at Honey, MPLS with Sexy Delicious and Youth at Large. It's gonna be fun.

SCHOENBURG will release Hydrophobia & Identity Insecurities at the 7th Street Entry on Monday, September 3, 2012 with John Mark Nelson, SuperChris, and Kara Loudon.
18+, $5, 7 pm - Citypages/GimmeNoise


Short, But Sweet (March 2, 2012)
Hydrophobia & Identity Insecurities (September 3, 2012)



In the fall of 2011, Billy Schoenburg was sitting on a collection of songs that he had written over his first two years of college. With his best friends Graham Wakeman and Dane Hoppe, both audio engineers and respectively accomplished guitar and percussion players, the three took to the studio and over the course of a year completed both an EP and full length album under the moniker SCHOENBURG.

Their EP, titled Short, But Sweet, was released on March 2nd, 2012 to critical acclaim from the Twin Cities publication Citypages. A collection of short and simple songs, Short, But Sweet was recorded during late nights and after the sessions for their full length album, Hydrophobia and Identity Insecurities, which was released on September 3rd, 2012. While recorded at the same time, the two projects have distinctively different sounds, with Short, But Sweet accomplishing a made-at-home vibe that shows off both Schoenburg’s songwriting and voice, and with Hydrophobia and Identity Insecurities showcasing their abilities as a trio in production, performance, and arrangement.

With the creation of their label in 2012, OuiOui Artist Group, the members of SCHOENBURG have swiftly combined their personal and professional lives into a mess of work and love that is headquartered in their studio and workshop spaces allocated in Schoenburg and Wakeman’s basement. Taking on a DIY attitude during the processes of their first two projects, the three take pride in doing everything in house. On any given night you will surely find members in the basement recording new tracks, mixing and mastering old ones, screenprinting, cutting and stamping download cards, or drinking beer while watching Youtube.