By JC Poppe Special to Published Jan 04, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Many people know the big-name acts that have come out of Chicago. Artists and bands like Fall Out Boy, Rise Against, John Legend, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Common, etc., have all found fame after rising through the ranks of the Second City.

Beyond the more mainstream names lies a large group of artists that find a good amount of national support in the different indie scenes around the country, and many of them are able to make an international dent as well.

Orch-pop band Canasta is one of those blue-collar bands that has found some level of popularity beyond its home of Chicago. Though not a name that's well known yet, the band has accumulated positive reviews from The Huffington Post, A.V. Club, Chicago Tribune and The Deli.

Their most recent album, "The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather" is an atmospheric project that has enough hook to keep the listener engaged while also providing enough movement throughout each track to prevent the listener from getting fatigued by their sound.

This Friday at 10 p.m. Canasta will be in Milwaukee to play a free show at Bad Genie before heading to the country of Mongolia. Guitarist Jeremy Beckford discussed with the struggles of living up to critic's expectations, how they get to go to Mongolia and other topics surrounding the band. After finding lots of success in Chicago, winning numerous accolades for your previous projects, does that create any pressure on you as a band when prepping new tunes and projects?

Jeremy Beckford: I think the majority of the pressure comes from ourselves. We want to push our own boundaries with each new album, and I feel we've definitely taken it up a notch on the last album, so here we are trying to top that one.

OMC: You are doing a quick tour run through the Midwest and then you are off to Mongolia. How did that trip come about and what are you doing to do while there?

JB: We have a friend in the U.S. State Department who told us about this culture exchange program and suggested we apply. It's been in the works for over a year now and we got the go-ahead in October. Looks like we'll be introducing our Mongolian friends to orch-pop.

OMC: Where do you draw your influences from what writing your songs?

JB: It bounces around quite a bit. Melodies and lines are usually brought in from various band members. We all have a pretty diverse palette for music, so there's a fair amount of channeling those into our own writing. Lyrically, Matt pulls on some personal experiences, as well as creating some interesting stories of his own.

OMC: Milwaukee has a pretty competitive club circuit that also features a good amount of friendly collaboration. Is there a lot of collaboration between artists in Chicago or is the culture driven by the desire to be crowned king/queen of the Second City?

JB: Chicago musicians are definitely the blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone workers in the musical realm. Everyone is extremely supportive of one another. For example, we've collaborated with our pals in the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and Brighton MA quite a bit. I think we all know how hard it is to be successful in the music business and therefore respect everyone's efforts.

OMC: Out of all of the phases of putting music together and out, what is your favorite part of it all?

JB: Sharing the music onstage, without a doubt. Writing and exploring are fun as well, but nothing compares to the energy you get from performing to an audience. There's a connection there that's hard to put into words.

OMC: For the people that enjoy indie rock music and have never heard of you, why should they come to see you at Bad Genie on Jan. 6?

JB: You should come because you love buzzing synths with grand pianos blending seamlessly with sparkly guitars and soaring violins while being knocked over with infectious melodies and group harmonies. Also to see our physicist synth-man melt your brain.

To get an idea of what Canasta brings to the table, here's a music video for the track "Mexico City" that is found on the most recent album, "The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather."

Several songs from each of the band's projects are also available for either streaming or download on the Canasta website.

JC Poppe Special to

Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Brown Deer, Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus Poppe has spent the majority of his life in or around the city and county of Milwaukee.

As an advocate of Milwaukee's hip-hop community Poppe began popular local music blog Milwaukee UP in March 2010. Check out the archived entries here.

Though heavy on the hip-hop, Poppe writes about other genres of music and occasionally about food, culture or sports, and is always ready to show his pride in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.