Name: Beth Kinderman
I was born in a mid-sized town in Wisconsin, into a family that loved music. Growing up, I immersed myself in my parents' record collection, although later on I branched out and developed my own tastes. I sang a lot in church and at various community events, but I was never very serious about it. Instead, most of my musical energy went into practicing the trumpet. I dreamed of becoming a writer, or maybe a jazz musician, but I hadn't quite figured out how to combine my interests in words and music yet.
I wrote my first song when I was 13 years old. Like many teenage girls, I wrote reams of terrible poetry and dreamed of being a writer, and songwriting seemed like the natural outgrowth of that. I don't really need to tell you that it was bad. Nevertheless, I found out that songwriting could be pretty fun, and continued to write the occasional song (or the lyrics, at least - the music for these endeavors never existed anywhere but inside my head) throughout middle school, high school, and all of the expected tragedies and vicissitudes of teenage life.
During my senior year of high school, two significant things happened. First, I realized that although my love for music (and jazz) only grew as I learned more about it, I was not a very good trumpet player. At that time I was playing for close to 5 hours a day but I wasn't getting any better, and given that fact I was forced to admit that a brilliant career as the next Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie was probably not in my future. Second, and more importantly, I bought my first guitar and started teaching myself to play. I had been going through a difficult time and writing a lot of songs about my experiences, because sometimes poetry didn't seem like it was enough. I had also discovered the music of some brilliant female singer/songwriters - especially Kate Bush and Ani Difranco - and longed to make music like they did. I spent hours in my room, teaching myself chords from a battered chart (fretted upside down and backwards, because I didn't know about the existence of left-handed guitars...I still play like this) and piecing together music for my songs using what I learned.
I'd been playing for almost a year, but not improving as quickly as I'd wanted to, when I left home to attend St. Olaf College. Going to Olaf was a great experience in every way, but for the first two and a half years I was there I didn't make much progress as a musician. St. Olaf's music program is world-renowned, and the campus is replete with phenomenally talented people. To a self-taught amateur musician - especially an almost pathologically shy one such as myself - it was enough to keep me from sharing my music with a very wide audience at first. On those few occasions when I did, my efforts were often met with disinterest or disdain, which was enough to begin convincing me that maybe I wasn't cut out to do this kind of music either. In retrospect I wish I had been more bold and taken more advantage of the musical resources I had at my disposal while I was there...but what can you do.
In January 2003, I took a month-long trip to Spain. I spent one weekend of this trip in the city of Granada. To say that Granada is the most spectacularly beautiful city on Earth would be an understatement of gross proportions. It also resides in a region (Andalucía) that is known for producing high-quality handmade guitars. I decided a new guitar would be a great souvenir, and spent several unforgettable hours in the workshop of Germán Pérez Barranco picking out my instrument. What I didn't know was that by buying that guitar, I had instigated a series of events that, 24 hours later, would culminate in me playing my new guitar at the Mirador de San Nicolás (a beautiful scenic overlook point), entertaining hundreds of complete strangers with songs I had written. The entire experience is somewhat complicated and difficult to write about in these few words, but suffice to say that I came back from Spain with a strong desire to share my music with the world and see where else my songs might take me.
After returning from Spain, I tried to respect the lessons I'd learned by sharing my music with a wider audience. I started playing shows at coffeehouses and festivals around St. Olaf. While these shows were mostly attended by my friends and other people I could cajole into coming to hear me play, they helped me take great steps forward with regards to my confidence as a musician. However, a few other people did notice what I was doing and approve of it. One of them was Max Clark (perhaps better known as lo-fi/folk musician Me Low). He was starting a small tape-only record label, Unnecessary Friction Records, and invited me to become a part of it. What followed was a crash course initiation into the world of independent record labels. Unfortunately, the label imploded and reorganized itself within the year, and because of that I'm no longer making music for UF. Still, the experience was extremely valuable inasmuch as it taught me a lot about the thrilling and sometimes maddening process of recording and distributing music (and the politics that can ensue while doing both).
During my time with Unnecessary Friction, I released a 4-song EP entitled Fingerprint Collector, which was one side of a tape shared with Me Low's EP In The Dust. I also contributed songs to their From West To Midwest sampler (an early recording of "One Track Mind"), their Halloween compilation (the by-now-infamous zombie song), and their Christmas compilation (a really cool arrangement of "O Come, O Come, Emmanual" in 5/4 time played on a heavily processed solo electric guitar). All of these tapes sold far fewer than 100 copies, mostly to people in the Seattle area, and are long since out of print. However, I do have copies of all of them buried somewhere in my house, so if you're interested in hearing any of this stuff, let me know and I'll try to hook you up.
I graduated from St. Olaf in 2004, and after making another trip to Spain (along with my guitar, of course!), I moved to Minneapolis to enter graduate school in Hispanic linguistics. After spending a year coming up with excuses of various types for why I couldn't or wouldn't start sharing my music again, I purchased an 8-track recorder and some other necessary equipment, and put up this website to distribute my music to a larger audience, to document my development as an artist, and to improve as a songwriter, singer, guitarist, home recordist, and producer.
As it turned out, my efforts were not in vain. After a year of building my confidence doing bedroom recordings (the best of which became my 6-song EP Lab Rat Demos), I realized the time had come to take my music to the stage. With the help of too many groups and individuals to note here (but a special thanks must go to the fine folks at DEMO for giving me my first gig in Minneapolis), I brought my songs to a wider audience. Not even five months after that first show, I was playing to hundreds of my fellow geeks at MarsCon and fulfilling a dream by taking the stage at the legendary 7th Street Entry. It was at sci-fi conventions like MarsCon that my music received the warmest reception, and I began to build a small fanbase within the geek community both locally and through the Internet.
After a year of monthly shows, it was time to take the next step of recording a full-length, professional quality CD. This ended up with the title of All Of My Heroes Are Villains and was released in February 2008, mostly due to the assistance of one remarkable person. Through my connections in the fan community, I was introduced to Dave Stagner, who agreed to produce and record my album and help me do what needed to be done. I cannot emphasize enough the amount of time, effort, and dedication that Dave has given to my music, and I can never fully express my gratitude to him for all the ways in which he has helped me to grow as a musician. Through Dave, I met Justin Hartley, who drummed on the record and agreed to back me up at the MarsCon 2008 CD release as well. The three of us soon started to feel the need for a backing vocalist to fill out the harmonies and doubling that are so prominent in my music, and I immediately thought of my longtime friend Nikki Walker. To make a long story short, the four of us clicked so well that we decided to play more shows together as a band. Now, a year later, here we are gigging about once a month together, and preparing for the release of my second album, Apocalypse Blues (to be released in July 2009 if all goes well!).
It's not my goal to get rich or famous from my music. I sell CDs to help defray the financial costs of doing what I love, but otherwise I want to offer as much music as I can for free and distribute it to as many people as I can. Thank you for taking the time to read this far, and for taking this journey along with me.Whet her you've been with me from the beginning or this is the first time you've stumbled across my website, I thank you for being here and listening to my songs. I hope that you will find something in them to speak to you or at least entertain you.