Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 11:21 a.m.
When we made out yesterday, I told you about how to get Wentworth Kersey's new CD for the price of a cup of coffee. In response to that, I received several incisive and insistent questions, such as: "Huh?" "Wha?" "Why?" and "Is that your hand on my thigh?" So I thought I'd share a bit of my conversation with Jeffrey Stevens, one half of the enigmatic duo known as Wentworth Kersey (Joe Sampson makes up the other half), to further elucidate this, um, marketing plan. Read on.
"My frustration with playing in bands," Stevens told me, "is that you can play hundreds of shows, but how many people buy your CD? How far does it really go?" The electronics wizard -- who is probably best known as part of the experimental electronic outfit, George & Caplin -- has never felt comfortable forcing discs on friends and strangers at shows. "It's hard being the pusher," he says. "Joe and I aren't pushy enough to get people to buy it. It'll be nice to sit in my home and know it's getting out there."
Despite what Stevens says, he isn't solely motivated by sloth and shyness. He and Sampson seem genuinely more interested in having their music heard than in recovering the money they've invested.
"We're probably not recouping," he admits. "If I had the ability to have my artistic vision out there, or the remote possibility of recouping, I'd take the first one. Once you're done with [a record]," he explains, "it takes on its own life. Rather than scrounging over a few dollars here and there, I'd want people to have it and listen to it. The interaction and feedback with a community is more important. When I'm fifty, I won't remember if I got the EP paid off, but I'll remember the experiences that came of it. It's like going to a rave -- all the stories are in the getting there." That might sound a little too idealistic, but Stevens back up his altruism with his own artistic selfishness.
"One of my favorite things about Denver is sharing music," he says. "The other week, Nathaniel Rateliff
sent me some music. I thought it was so cool that he'd trust me enough to send it to me, and know I'm not going to put it out myself or make a bootleg. I love when people share music. That's when I get inspired to write more and exchange ideas. In fact, the only reason this project happened was that someone handed Joe a CD of George & Caplin."
From a more practical perspective, both Stevens and Sampson are veterans who know all too well the demoralizing feeling of having boxes of unsold CDs in their closets. "You have that pile that kills you," Stevens confesses. "This is out of a need to eliminate that. But also, when you get an album you never thought you'd buy, and it hits you really hard, that's the best feeling in the world. If we can create a similar experience for one person through this whole campaign, then I'll feel pretty good about it."
By offering the CD at St. Mark's Coffee House, Stevens hopes to give something to a community that's important to both Sampson and him. "We both met a lot of people when we first came to Denver through St. Mark's," Stevens says. "It coincides with the vision we have, and it's not corporate."
At the same time, Stevens also sees an opportunity to bring together communities that might not otherwise interact. "Some teachers at my work don't know St. Mark's, but they're planning to go down there and pick up a CD. They're going to go on an adventure, just to hear what my music sounds like. I think it's an interesting experiment."
Stevens admits, however, that his partner's motivations might be a bit more pragmatic: "Joe just doesn't want the CDs lying around his house."
To reiterate, Wentworth Kersey's new CD, EP (O), will be available at St. Mark's Coffee House, starting on May 17th. Simply ask for the disc as you order your americano.