Discussing his new EP, Ogres, Dan Klee describes it as, “quaint but horrific”. The songwriter from Portland, Oregon, wrote the record in response to the uncertain global times he saw around him, watching an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. Dan was struck by an image of, “a disarmingly domestic ogre, cheerily grinding up the bones of the poor to make a nice soup”, and the ideas for Ogres were born. The EP, recorded in a makeshift home studio throughout 2020, arrived earlier this month through Quick Pickle Records.
Like surely all music written in 2020, Ogres is a study in isolation, a permanent record, “of living cut off from most family and friends”. The EP begins with the title track, Ogres, a blast of tropicalia influenced indie-pop about monstrous landlords feasting on their tenant’s rental payments. The trick of sounding faintly joyous while the lyrics explore the creeping end of life as we know it is one Dan pulls off throughout. Whether it’s through the slight Blondie-Esque strut of Daunting Haunting or the harmony drenched indie of I Only Ever Think About The Rain. Ogres is a record that leads with a nod and a wink, a charming Siren song that guides you to crash down on rocks of the chaotic world lurking within. Don’t think you can resist Dan Klee: this is music that demands to be heard.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who is Dan Klee?
I’m a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer from Portland, OR, USA, where I’ve been performing and recording music for the last 15 years or so. I’ve played guitar, drums, and even saxophone in a range of rock, pop, jazz, and country bands over the years, but my main passion has always been writing and recording my own material. My music covers a lot of genres and I put a lot of effort into making pieces that don’t really sound like any other artist in particular.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
My first show as “Dan Klee” was actually pretty memorable. My band and I were playing the release show for my first EP, “Home or the Oddest Endeavor,” and I think maybe we were a bit too ambitious… I booked a venue that was way too big, we had a band with too many people, and I had really no notion of how to promote any of it. It was a blast though. I cut my finger early on in the set and bled all over my guitar. Probably the most rock-n-roll moment of my life, haha. Somehow we managed to draw a pretty decent crowd too.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I grew up in a very musical household, so I suppose music was always just part of the creative vocabulary. Besides that emotional and historical connection, I’ve always enjoyed how musical performance brings people to the present. I’ve always had a personality where I spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future. Music brings me to the here and now, which has always felt very healthy.
FTR: What can people expect from the Dan Klee live show?
Something different than my recordings, certainly. I produce most of my recorded music alone, but my live band is both big and eclectic. We do a lot of adaptations for live shows, and it’s not uncommon to hear us do things like swap out lead guitar for a phased-out trumpet solo. I’m proud to say as well that the players who back me up are definitely better musicians than I am on their respective instruments.
FTR: What’s next for Dan Klee?
Now that things are (hopefully) going to open up a bit more, there’s a lot to be excited about! I’m going to start rehearsing with my band again and we’ll be booking some shows this fall. I’ll also be playing shows with my other bands, including a trip to Treefort in Idaho with Olivia Awbrey, which was part of a tour we had to cancel last year before lockdown. It’ll be nice to pick up where we left off.
They Listen To…
Rosie Tucker – Habanero
“One of my absolutely favorite artists right now is Rosie Tucker. They just put out a new record and it’s really inspired. Wonderful melodies and deceptively complex harmonic structures from a rock band.“
R.E.M – Harborcoat
“There was a solid year in my high school days when I almost only listened to R.E.M. They were the first band I took notice of that capitalized on the notion of atmosphere. I think now as I get older that I derived a lot of production sensibilities from their records.”
The Beths – You Are A Beam Of Light
“One of my bands (the Olivia Awbrey band) opened for the Beths a few years ago. They’ve gained a lot of traction since then, and it’s well-deserved. They’re a hard-hitting rock outfit, but this softer piece is one of my favorites from their recent record. Very restrained, and they land on some gorgeous chords with their vocal harmonies.”
Paul Simon – Kodachrome
“I’ve been very affected by Paul Simon over the years. The meticulous craft he brings to his songwriting has had me coming back to the same songs for years. A lot of these songs are quite resilient to the tests of time, and I always appreciate the emphasis placed on both the vocal and the instrumentation.”
Matthew Logan Vasquez – Vacation
“Delta Spirit is a terribly underrated rock band. I’ve really enjoyed the solo output their frontman Matt Vasquez has put out over the last few years. He’s a wonderfully bombastic, thoughtful songwriter. The full-throttle defiance of this particular tune is juxtaposed nicely with its dirge-like outro.”
Ogres is out now via Quick Pickle Records. For more information on Dan Klee visit https://dankleemusic.com.