Neighbors

Getting To Know Ditmas Park Band Bree & The Whatevers

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Bree and the Whatevers were made in Ditmas Park. While Bree Klauser (singer/head songwriter) and Matthew Klauser (guitarist/ former Ditmas Park resident/ Brother of Bree Klauser) are siblings, the band’s currently lineup only came to fruition after Bree moved into what she calls “[her] Victorian boarding house” and met Dan Kessler, the band’s now-bassist/keyboardist, who had recently moved in across the hall. Ahead of their local shows this summer–including two this Saturday during Make Music New York–Bree, Matt, and Dan gave us a feel for their music and some background on their time in the neighborhood.

Tell us about yourselves and your roles in the band.

Dan: I am a lifelong musician, and am also a member of the band Morricone Youth and the projects Red Army and Ambivalent Elephant.

Bree: I‘ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I started writing music shortly after a hairdresser spotted me, grossly underage, in a singing competition at a gay bar in Manhattan and suggested I should write pop songs with him. Over time I found my own way and style and eventually formed Bree and the Whatevers.

How long have you all known each other, and when did you start making music together?

Bree: Matt has known me my whole life obviously. Dan moved across the hall from me last September. The project Bree and the Whatevers has been around for two years, but this formation of the band has only been playing with each other for a little over seven months.

What’s the story behind your band name?

Bree: After playing under my own name for over a year we felt we needed a name so we would be seen as a band. After wracking our brains for week on edgy/hip/provocative combinations of “Bree and…” our old drummer said, “How bout Bree And the…. Whatevers!?” We all shrugged in agreement. The name seemed suitable.

How long have you lived in Ditmas Park? What are some of your favorite places and things in the neighborhood?

Bree: My brother first introduced me to the neighborhood when I was 16 and still living in the worst place in the world–South Shore Long lsland. In 2010, I moved in with my brother for school, and we lived on Ditmas Avenue together for two years. I am so lucky now to live in one of the neighborhood’s best features–a Victorian house on a beautiful tree-lined street. I moved in within a few weeks of Dan, right across the hall. I am so lucky to have been able to see how much this community has grown. Places my brother and I have loved for years: Café Madeline, The Farm, Café Tibet and Sycamore along with new favorites Coffee Mob and Milk & Honey.

Dan: I’m a fan of Cafe Madeline and Coffee Mob, and a great fan of the Flatbush Food Co-op, especially when they have ground lamb in stock.

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Your Facebook describes you guys as “the musical lovechild of Amy Winehouse and The Doors.” Who are some of your other influences, or other ways you describe your music?

Bree: As a vocalist my idols are singers of the 40s and 50s, one of my favorites being Dinah Washington. More modern influences for me personally would be Gwen Stefani, Regina Spektor, St. Vincent and Lady Gaga. The songwriting falls somewhere between the stylings of Phil Spector and 70s blues rock, while also containing an atmospheric, cabaret/pop sensibility. Other artists with a sound similar to ours are Sharon Jones and The Dapkings, and PJ Harvey.

Dan: For bass, I’m bringing a style in the ilk of Gene Perla, Mauricio Maestro, and Jack Bruce sort of mixed up together. I’m a big fan of a nice hollow 70s-sounding bass thunk/buzz/hum. As far as keys go, I like a more percussive and rhythmic style of playing, but I also like when parts fall out of time and sit there like a texture. Rhodes is great for that. I hope to bring some style from the likes of Portishead, Goldfrapp, and PJ Harvey, as well as mid-70s funk like the Commodores and Pointer Sisters.

Matt: As guitar goes, there’s a heavy influence of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

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Where can we catch you next, particularly around the ‘hood? How else can people hear/see your stuff and keep up with you?

Bree: June is all about shows in Brooklyn for us — especially in Ditmas Park. We will be playing two daytime outdoor performances for the Make Music New York Festival on Saturday June 21. The first show is at 3pm at the Cortelyou Road Library Plaza, and second show is 4pm at Newkirk Plaza. Or if you’re more of a barfly, check us out Monday, June 23 at Bar Chord, or at Spike Hill July 18 for our Double Birthday Extravaganza!

Bree and the Whatevers sound like your kind of band? For more music and updates, you can keep up with them on YouTubeReverbnationFacebook, and Twitter.

All photos via Bree and the Whatevers

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