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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 9, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 41
Seattle musician Kris Orlowski gets nostalgic on Gershwin-inspired EP
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Seattle musician Kris Orlowski gets nostalgic on Gershwin-inspired EP

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

When we last spoke to Kris Orlowski, just prior to the release of his 2014 album Fighting the War, he was optimistic yet realistic about a national breakthrough. A year later, on the verge of putting out a new EP, he's in the same predicament. As he awaits a broader spotlight, Orlowski continues to hone his craft here in Seattle with ongoing live peformances, such as his recent appearance at Bumbershoot and a concert series he'll host at the Smith Tower during October. The Gershwin Sessions, Volume I is a six-track collection of George and Ira Gershwin songs reimagined and performed by Orlowski. It is available now on iTunes and Spotify. Via email, I chatted with the local musician about the just-released EP, possible touring, and the upcoming holidays. Here's what Kris Orlowski had to say to Seattle Gay News.

Albert Rodriguez: Tell us about the new EP - where was it recorded, how many tracks are on it, and where is it available to purchase?

Kris Orlowski: My new six song EP is titled The Gershwin Sessions, Volume 1. It's a reimagining of a few George and Ira Gershwin songs. It's available on Spotify and iTunes! Spotify - https://play.spotify.com/user/krisorlowski/playlist/1uCMc2JYJWZ0LkJEoB4tjr

iTunes - http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1039975619?ls=1&app=itunes




Rodriguez: Will the EP be supported by a tour?

Orlowski: Our first and probably only show for Volume 1 of the Gershwin songs was at the Smith Tower. If we end up recording more songs, we'll probably include these songs in the mix as well.

Rodriguez: Are the songs on the EP all original material? Did you write, or co-write, all of them?

Orlowski: The songs on the EP are covers of George and Ira Gershwin, two brilliant songwriters from the 1920s. I was drawn in by the writing of the Gershwin brothers; Ira's poignant lyrics, George's brilliant instrumentation and arrangements. The songs were already so good, so the challenge became modernizing them without stripping away their integrity. I teamed up with a producer named Nathan Yaccino, who I'm currently in the studio with as we speak working on the next album. Nate's really fun to work with because he's been around music his whole life; he knows what works, what doesn't. He knows how to build a song up as well as play all the instruments, so that's what we did with this project. Andrew Joslyn came in to add all of the string orchestration you hear. Andrew's one of my best friends and he's had his strings on almost everything around town, Seattle Rock Orchestra, Macklemore, David Bazan, etc.

Rodriguez: How often do you get hit on by men? And, what's your reaction to that?

Orlowski: I don't get hit on by men as often as I used to. I guess my age is starting to show? When I do get hit on, though, it gives me an extra hop in my step - you know, like I've still got it. I guess I do still get the eyes from some guys after shows, but my radar is a little faulty most times and it goes right over my head.

Rodriguez: You drew a good-sized crowd to your Bumbershoot performance. Were you expecting a big turnout?

Orlowski: I wasn't sure what to expect. For a Bumbershoot lineup that was skewed with more national artists, I was one of a handful of local bands each day, so to see the whole concerts on the Mural lawn full of people was pretty amazing. It's nice to feel support from folks in the community now that this is my full time job.

Rodriguez: What's the last piece of music you downloaded?

Orlowski: By download, do you mean illegally? Or, just bought on iTunes? The last album I bought on iTunes was Noah Gundersen's Carry the Ghost. Otherwise, I think it was the new Beach House. A friend knew them somehow and sent it to me ahead of the release. Both those bands have a pretty authentic sound, which is part of what draws me in beyond strong melody.

Rodriguez: Since we're nearing the holiday season, what's your favorite childhood Halloween costume?

Orlowski: When I was three I dressed up as a football player. It was ironic because I was a cute little kid with HUGE shoulder pads, a black eye, and a ball that was as big as my head. I was obsessed with balls as a kid...

Rodriguez: What is the Smith Tower Sessions, and is the general public invited to attend?

Orlowski: The Smith Tower Sessions is a 12-part music series I'm curating and performing at each month. The first event kicked off on Saturday, October 3rd. I've been looking for a way to stretch my live performance outside the typical venue. There doesn't seem to be anything more unique than the top of the iconic skyscraper in the pyramid-shaped living room that is now a private residence. It feels like a home and another world all at once. Beyond the venue, I'm bringing a different musical guest in every month. There isn't a stage, and for the most part it's totally acoustic. I'm excited to be in a space that breeds creativity, and to get outside the mold of my usual stage performance. The general public can come, we send out a link about two weeks before the event through the waiting list, which anyone can sign up for at www.smithtowersessions.com.

Rodriguez: Is there an artist or band that you've never seen before in concert that you're dying to see live?

Orlowski: I have a few! Patrick Watson of Cinematic Orchestra and the Bahamas are a few that come to mind. I would love to have seen Bob Dylan when he was young, or Nirvana when they were still on the rise, but I'm full of many dreams.

Rodriguez: When do you anticipate the release of a new full-length album?

Orlowski: It's hard to say as I'm actually in the studio as we speak working on new tunes. I would guess sometime in the Winter/Spring of 2016. We are about 1.5 weeks away from being done recording, but we still have a long road after that; mixing, mastering, label/no label, getting it to the right team to start working the album a few months before the official release, etc. Exciting, but I'm always reminded how much goes into one release.

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