Sideline Spotlight: Stoop Kids and the Art of the Mixtape

Now based out of Nashville, The Stoop Kids have been establishing their spot in the indie music scene since their release of their first album “What a World” in 2013 as students at Loyola University in New Orleans. 

With recent tours across the country and over 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, the Stoop Kids’ success took off in 2015. This was just after they graduated from Loyola and released “Already Out of Time,” as Spotify’s discover weekly feature was bringing increased attention to independent artists. 

We were able to get on the phone with the group, as baritone saxist Tom Eisenhood and bassist Sam Fruend filled us in on Stoop Kids’ journey thus far and their experience on the road. Both Eisenhood and Fruend serve as accompanying vocalists to head vocalist and guitarist Griffin Dean, who is largely credited with the group’s writing inspiration. In total, the group is five members, with Joe Tontillo on drums and David Paternostro on keys and guitar. 

With their roots in New Orleans, the Stoop Kids claim their high standards of live performances affected by the local music scene taught them how to excite an audience and bring life to any venue. Both Fruend and Eisenhood point out that all the members are younger brothers in their families. They think this leads the often hectic and draining nature of touring to appear more manageable, and they look forward to playing down both coasts to further spread their outreach outside of the southeast area.

Throughout the interview, it became abundantly clear the Stoop Kids have worked to carve out an effective and enjoyable dynamic within their band. They handle all their own socials and PR. Many of them live together – and continue to play during the COVID-19 quarantine. Their dynamic discography is a collection of their varying music tastes, which they mention are always open to incorporating new genres and sounds.

The group displays such an expansive variety of genres and influences that it’s impossible to pin them down to any single category besides indie. Even when I asked them to describe what the vision of their genre would be, they reflected the question back to me. Throughout the call I heard the words trap, jazz, funk, indie rock, and a variety of others used to describe the ever-elusive description of Stoop Kids’ sound. 

There is definitely a focus on ‘90s-style rap meshed with a set of different sounds, often featuring jazz-inspired instrumentation substituting a traditional trap/rap backings. The Stoop Kids are not shy in adding plenty of choir-boy harmonies and background vocalists that serve as the identifying element in their songs. At first, it’s weird to hear the background harmonies paired with rap verses, but it’s refreshingly fun and radiates talen always.

This style of genre-bending is most exemplified in their 2017 mixtape “Queue: The Mixtape.” With one of the mixtape’s hits, “Better Left Unsaid,” reaching over a million streams, “Queue: The Mixtape” offers a complete look into the different instrumentation and styles of music that the Stoop Kids explore with grace. They decided on their mixtape format in an effort to pay homage to the act of making that perfect cassette tape, CD, or playlist to gift upon someone’s ears. Thus, “Queue: The Mixtape” strived to be a catered playlist of tracks the Stoop Kids wish to gift to their listeners, with every track cherry-picked by the passionate band members. Even with diverse sounds and scattered inspirations, the array of tracks feel very much complete, and the group is able to demonstrate just how well-rounded they can be. 

Any genre, sound, venue, or instrumentation the Stoop Kids come across, they are willing to embrace with open arms. Such open-mindedness and determination to collaborate is likely what has kept them together for seven years and contributed to their rising success. Neither the traditional constraints of a single genre or the wear of touring keeps the band from continuing to make the music they love.

What’s next for the group? “We are trying to play the shows we really want to play,” Fruend says. “Perform in the cities we really want to be in rather than just play shows.” 

Eisenhood adds, “As far as touring and music writing goes, we want to do exactly what we want to do and how we want to do it. That focus is gonna take it to the next level.” 

It becomes clear that the Stoop Kids are honing down on quality over quantity. With an established listenership and discography, the group isn’t worried about catering to approval ratings just to get their foot in the door. Recently, they had an EP “Let’s Call It” in 2019 and just dropped a single called “Same” last week.

It’s important for us to acknowledge the struggle a lot of independent artists are facing during the COVID-19 crisis. To support their favorite artists, Fruend and Eisenhood recommended fans buy merch, donate, and watch live streams.

“Even if you’re not donating, just watching the live streams helps boost spirits. It can be really encouraging to see that people still care about you and your music,” Fruend says. 

Most importantly, they suggested flocking out to shows when all this is over. When such restrictions are lifted, be sure to check out Stoop Kids. I know I’ll be there. 

Special shoutout to @Stoopkidsmusic for the interview!

Check out their website here and their music on all streaming platforms.

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