Jes KramerPerformer name:
Jes Kramer

Where are you from?
Grand Rapids, MI

Who’s in the band and what do they play?
99% of the time, Jes Kramer is a solo act. I use a variety of keyboards and a drum machine through a loop pedal and then sing and play guitar and sometimes ukulele.

When and how did you become a band?
I’ve been playing shows as a solo artist for a little over a decade. I started writing and recording in my mom’s basement in high school and then someone booked me a show. That lead to exploring ways to get a more full sound in a live setting instead of relying on studio magic.

How did you decide on your band name?
Stage names are intimidating. What if you pick the wrong one? I figured I’d just go for the simple solution.

Can you describe your music?
I see what I do as story-based mellow electronic music. It’s not that far from your stereotypical singer/songwriter. When I gave myself a different set of tools to work with and that changed the mood.

What bands, musicians (or other things) are your influences/inspiration?
Owen Ashworth from Casiotone For the Painfully Alone/Advance Base has been a huge influence on the particular way I write music. The Postal Service, Mirah, and Mates of State were big early on.

Do you have any special rituals to prepare for a show?
I find that I perform best if I have a nice long drive by myself singing along to the stereo beforehand. Then at the show, I get a nice glass of whiskey and do my untangling-all-the-cables meditation.

How did you get into making music?
I grew up messing around with the piano and my grandma’s electric organ. Then my mom’s boyfriend let me borrow his guitar for a while and I dove headfirst into songwriting. It was a good way to get all that teenage angst out.

Tell us about your first show.
I don’t remember exactly how I got booked, but it was at this little café in Grand Rapids that closed a long time ago. I had never figured out how to play live. I remember practicing until I had no voice left. It was terrifying.

Does your gender identity/presentation influence your music? Has it presented any issues for you?
I feel like I’ve dealt with plenty of those stereotypical assumptions based on my gender. Many sound engineers will assume that I’m going to show up with an acoustic guitar without looking any further or asking for a stage plot. I face plenty of skepticism when talking gear at a live show or a music store. Thankfully the local music scene in Grand Rapids has made a point of highlighting the diversity of women musicians, so I see it getting better.

BFF FEST 2016Gear talk! Tell us about your instruments/pedals/amps/drum set!
I usually bring 3 or 4 Casio and Yamaha keyboards along with me – most of them small “toy” looking keyboards. I can’t get enough of those sounds. I run those, a vocal mic, and a Korg Electribe through a Boss RC-20 loop pedal. Then I play a Gibson Les Paul through a vox amp, apart from the loops.

Who are your favorite Detroit musicians/bands?
Best Exes, Casual Sweetheart, The Kickstand Band. Tunde Olaniran is technically from Flint but can I just say how much I love Tunde?

What is your favorite song right now?
Angel Olsen’s “Shut up kiss me”

What is your favorite way to unwind?
I’ve been reading a lot more lately. It’s too easy to lose multiple hours to Netflix. I’m working on that.

What do you want everyone to know about your band?
I’m currently working on my third full length record, which will hopefully be out before the end of 2016.