To the Summerfest fans still wringing out their clothes from this year’s infamous Day 1 downpour, the poppy RB trio SHAED – who paddled its way onto the Briggs Stratton Big Backyard stage that night – feels your pain.
“We only got to play four songs because it was just a torrential downpour, and the lightning got really bad,” recalled lead vocalist Chelsea Lee. “We had a really fun time – but definitely very rainy. We were bummed that we couldn’t stay longer and hang out, because we were planning on seeing a bunch of bands that night. But the rain was just crazy!”
— SHAED (@shaedband) June 29, 2017
Thankfully, weather shouldn’t be a factor Thursday night when the group – made up of Lee and twins Max and Spencer Ernst – takes the stage at The Rave, opening up for Sir Sly at 8:30 p.m. with its smooth, hypnotic, groove-infused brand of electro-pop.
Before they hit Milwaukee for the second time in less than a month, we caught up with the band to chat about their first jaunt on the summer music festival circuit and what’s next.
OnMilwaukee: What is it like behind the scenes, behind the stage at Summerfest?
Chelsea Lee: We did a couple of festivals this summer – and we’ve never done the festival thing before – so it’s been a brand new experience for us, which is great. With Summerfest, we just kind of showed up, and our friends in MisterWives, they were playing right after us, so we got to hang out with them and get all of our stuff set up. It’s very fast-paced, so once you’re there, you’re moving all the time. But we had a great time; it was a really fun festival.
What’s been your experience like on the festival circuit for the first time?
CL: So we did Firefly, Electric Forest, Mamby on the Beach and then we did Summerfest. For me, I think the most surprising thing was I didn’t realize that there were this many people on the planet. At Electric Forest, there were thousands of people just walking around. And it’s definitely a marathon day – you get there early and spend all day there, then you play the show at night – but we had so much fun and had really beautiful weather for most of them and made a lot of new fans.
At Firefly, we played two sets: one was an acoustic set and one was a regular set. For our acoustic set, our equipment kind of blew up because it was so hot and it was sitting in the sun. So we had to play a very stripped down version of our music, and people loved it. So we’ve had a really great festival experience.
How do you prepare for the festival circuit, both in terms of the music and in terms of yourselves for the grind?
CL: Health wise, stay hydrated because every single festival we went to was so hot and such a marathon of a day. Be sure to have water and eat snacks – and we were sunscreen-ing it up.
Spencer Ernst: Physically, we’re lucky that Chelsea is a really good cook, and she also makes sure that Max and I aren’t eating unhealthy things. She’s kind of cracking the whip in that regard. And for the music, we have six songs out now, and we have a couple new ones. And we have to play 45-50-minute sets, so we try to put the songs that we have in an order that really have a nice flow and also try to add certain elements to the songs to keep people interested. We just try to play our set, share our music with people and it went over well.
Did you guys get to explore Milwaukee at all before or after Summerfest?
SE: We went to a couple of spots, looking for – it sounds cliché – the best cheeses. We did do that. I can’t really remember the names of the restaurants. But when we’re in festival season, it’s hard to explore the cities you’re in.
On your EP, “Just Wanna See,” from what I understand, you wrote it apart from one another or not living together. How’d you overcome that distance aspect and bring the elements together?
SE: For the songs on the EP, there were definitely a lot of songs that just started with Max and I working on the music, and then Chelsea came in and we worked on melody and lyrics and stuff like that. But there were also songs, like “Just Wanna See,” where we were able to write together from scratch and write it from the beginning of the song with all three of us in the same room. Obviously, that was easier, but we’re all very close, and even though we weren’t living together at the time, we were hanging out three or four days a week. So we still got to spend a lot of time together during the process.
Is a full-length album in the works soon too?
Max Ernst: Definitely. We actually have eight songs out: the six songs on the EP, then we released a cover of “Starboy” by The Weeknd, which we did with Spotify in their Spotify Studios in New York, and just released a new single, “Too Much,” last Friday. That’s one of a bunch of other songs that are in the works right now.
What was the thought going into covering “Starboy”?
ME: We were on tour with Marian Hill at the time, and that song came out while we were on tour. And we just fell in love with the song. We were planning on going into Spotify – they do these Spotify singles sessions-type things where you play an original and then you have to play a cover – and we were just really into that song at the time and thought it’d be interesting having a female vocal on the song and put our own twist on it.
Is there another dream song you’d like to cover?
ME: We’re trying to decide on another song right now. One that we’re working on actually in the van right now is – do you remember the song “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit?
ME: I know it’s a rock song, but the melodies actually work really well in an RB context, so we’re working on our own RB, chill version of that song. We wanted a song that everyone would be able to recognize and sing along to, but just make it sound totally different. We’re still working on it now – hopefully it comes together – but I think it’s going to be cool.