The Stepkids are futuristic electro soul recorded on a reel-to-reel; soaring harmonies sung by three singer/songwriters; Kandinsky-esque visuals that make for enigmatic live performances.
"A lot of what excites us about this band is this band itself," says bassist and keyboardist Dan Edinberg. "It's not either of us; it's about creating an entity where the entity itself is what's important."
It's an approach that comes from more than a decade of musical experimentation. Raised on the East Coast jazz and R&B circuit, individual band members went on to share stages with 50 Cent and Lauryn Hill, tour internationally with indie punk band Zox, score movies and commercials, and produce solo albums. However, it was an interest in creating an aesthetic identity which supersedes conventional pop notions of stardom and self-importance that ultimately drew them together.
The Stepkids groove is a startling, yet sexy, fusion of punk, jazz, West African traditional, 1960s folk, neo and classic soul, classic funk and 20th century classical; think T.Rex meets Sun Ra, Sly Stone meets Stravinsky, and Dylan meets Dilla. Philosophy and literature provide a conceptual schematic, from existential musings ("Legend in My Own Mind"), to the work of Charles Bukowski ("La La") and Plato's theoretical "Allegory of the Cave" ("Shadows on Behalf"). Add to this a vested interest in the recording process, and you have an imaginative album of Technicolor brilliance expertly self-engineered and self-produced. Live, kaleidoscopic projections by experimental video artist Jesse Mann consume the stage with light for a multi-sensory experience.
And every song on the Stepkids self-titled debut album is written with equal input from each member.
"All three of us write and all three of us sing," says Jeff Gitelman, who resigned from touring as Alicia Keys' guitarist to concentrate full-time on recording the Stepkids self-titled debut album.
"There's an equal split in the creative process, and we're really happy about that," says drummer Tim Walsh. "Any lyric, any melody, any idea could have been done by any of us."
There's no singular icon, no singular sound, and no singular way of making it happen for the Stepkids. It's psychedelia for the 21st century, where the focus is on the whole.