Herstand plays the Vaudeville Mews on Thursday,
May 10. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. and tickets
Ari Herstand understands the power in going
his own way. He’s been doing it for quite a
“I’ve been touring pretty much constantly for
the last four years,” said Herstand in a phone
interview from somewhere on the highway between
Madison, Wis., and Minneapolis, Minn. “I’m headed
back (to Minnesota) to work on the new album,
then I’ll head back out and tour some more.”
Being a solo act on the road can be a lonely
trek. It also poses artistic challenges.
“There’s nothing particularly unique about a
guy with an acoustic guitar alone on a stage,”
he said. “That’s why I started using the looping
With the looping station, Herstand is able to
flesh out his sound and expand his musical vision,
while still remaining a one-man act. By live-looping
keyboard, horn, guitar and beatbox elements,
he’s able to keep his shows dynamic and fresh
while still only relying on himself. The result
is a live show that’s engaging and unique, and
something that appeals strongly to the college
students and mid 20-somethings who make up the
bulk of his audience. Moving to writing for
the loop station, however, was a slow transition.
“The first album (2005’s “Baby Eyes”) was written
for a band,” he said. “But as I started using
the looping station more and more, I gradually
started writing with it in mind. Now, when I
write songs, sometimes I’ll sit down and just
work them out on the looping station, much like
other musicians will work out songs on a piano
or on a guitar.”
Another facet of Herstand’s independent approach
to his music is the development of his newest,
yet-untitled-album, due out this year. In January
of this year, Herstand joined a growing number
of independent musicians who’ve funded albums
through donation-driven, fan-first Kickstarter
campaigns. Starting with a goal of $12,000,
Herstand’s grassroots approach eventually raised
$13,500 for the production of the album.
“Kickstarter is great for artists and musicians,”
he said. “And it was obviously great for me.
Using Kickstarter enabled me to bypass a record
label and just do what I wanted to.”
As with anyone who’s either unwilling or unable
to sign with a label, the biggest obstacle to
producing an album is a financial one.
“Because really, that’s the main thing artists
are using the labels for, is the money to get
an album made,” He said.
The trade-off, of course, is relinquishing a
certain amount of creative control, something
that Herstand is happy to bypass.
“Not having to go to a label for money allowed
me to make the album the way I wanted to and
really get the sound just how I thought it should
be,” he said.
While Kickstarter is an exciting proposition
for independent artists, it’s not yet a cure-all
for the major-label blues.
“As you can imagine, studio albums cost quite
a bit of money,” Herstand said. “And after the
Kickstarter fees…the amount I had left over
paid for only a portion of the cost of the album.
But there’s no doubt that I couldn’t have made
it the way I did without the Kickstarter campaign.”