One of the most promising young musicians in Milwaukee doesn't have any CDs out and she rarely plays gigs. But Rae Cassidy Klagstad uses the Internet to share her songs and anyone that visits her site can hear her dreamy voice, low-fi atmospherics and intimate strumming. If the Web is a boon to musicians, Klagstad oughta be the poster girl for the 'Net.
Just 15, the Brookfield high school student, has nearly a CD's worth of tunes on two MySpace.com pages and almost all of them have gotten a couple thousand listens and good feedback. But Klagstad, who is the daughter of local guitarist Jason Klagstad (Semi-Twang, Arroyo, Plumb Loco), has come to music so casually and so naturally ... through her dad.
"I think I got into music just being brought up around it," she says. "Both my parents' careers were involving music, so I grew up surrounded by it. Nature over nurture? I've never taken lessons for anything except flute in the school band. The rest I kind of taught myself and my dad would slip in a little guitar teaching here and there. Also I have been in music through school with chorus and band."
The encouragement from her dad, Klagstad says, started her out on the road to songwriting early and kept her going.
"I decided on my own that it was what I wanted to pursue and he was right there next to me. When I'd write a song he'd always critique it and tell me some things I should work on. He'd also get into proud daddy mode and tell everyone about it. I started getting more and more involved in music and he thought I ought to start recording my ideas. He bought this recording software for my computer called SoundForge and said 'here's your next step.'
"This was about a year ago and I didn't really use it very much at all except for little 10-second clips that I would make of random melodies. Once the school year started I felt time catching up with me so I decided to sit down and try to write a full song. I got 'All Of Time Is Mine' and kept going from there. Now, whenever I am writing a song I show him each new part I create to see what he thinks and usually based off of his answer I will keep it or work on it."
Klagstad says she hadn't thought much about putting out CDs, but the attention she's getting via the Internet might change all that.
"I've never tried putting it on a CD or anything like that," she admits. "I've sent (my music) to a few people for their iPods and such but never thought of posting it anywhere other than myspace. I guess that's the next step. At some point soon I would like to do CDs I just need more songs finished though. Also the production quality isn't that great yet. I would need to perfect everything first but I absolutely plan to get CDs going and purchaseable because I've been getting many requests for them and had to turn them down so far."
Despite her fears that her recordings aren't polished enough, it's the unadorned beauty of Klagstad's music that makes it so engaging. While anyone can create a vibe and an alluring tune with an unlimited budget and great gear, Klagstad has managed to make honest, personal and enjoyable music without any of it, layering airy vocals atop often sparse instrumentation.
"Honestly, I'm not quite sure where I get my inspiration from," she says freely. "I'll be doing something and I'll all of a sudden get a little hum in my head so I'll run over the the computer and record it in and if I have time I'll just keep going. I can't really tell where the inspiration is coming from. I have been told a lot that it's like a 'dream' feeling and unusual. I don't try to make it sound that way it just kind of happens in the end."
Klagstad, perhaps due to her youth and perhaps due to her modesty, hasn't played many gigs, either, she says, just occasionally playing a song or two when her dad's onstage.
"As of now I only play at this one cafe called Cafe Carpe (in Fort Atkinson)," she says, "It's where my dad plays and I come along sometimes. I don't get paid or anything, but they usually ask me to come out and perform a song or two. It's usually either a capella or it's not my song, though. I think I'd have to find a whole band to play my music live; I haven't been able to do (it) yet."
But despite the lack of CDs and the shortage of exposure onstage, Klagstad dreams of becoming a successful musician and she seems to have the skills and the dedication to do it.
"I've always told my dad that I had this big dream, when I grew up I'd be famous. This may be wishful thinking because I know (it) is like winning the lottery but I really think I can make it ... I have plenty to work on and fix up but someday I want to have my music shown to the whole world."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.