Tucson-based Steff and the Articles have been a staple of the Arizona music scene for several years, releasing music regularly since 2012. They gained notoriety with a video in rotation on MTV Networks and hitting the stage alongside national acts like A Great Big World and Copeland. In 2015, singer Steff Koeppen went on a solo endeavor, exploring new sounds with the Game We Play EP, featuring the sultry "Celebrate."
While continuing to play regular gigs, the band spent the better part of 2016 in and out of the studio, working with longtime producer Curtis Douglas (The Maine, Sundressed, Wyves.) "We have been working together for about eight years, so I feel like we really get each other now," says Koeppen.
"We pushed each other to consider different ideas and took a lot more time with each individual song to get it right. In the past, we may have rushed through things because of time or budget constraints, but this record was planned out really well," she explains.
They also enlisted the services of Ralph Patlan (Jamie Foxx, Phunk Junkeez, Megadeth) to mix. "Having his ears and input on the tracks was definitely a game-changer," Koeppen says. "Really, it sounds like I've always thought The Articles' records should sound."
From those sessions came the upcoming new album, Timekeeper, expected this summer. The first single, "Keep You Around," dropped on March 17. It's a triumphant return, sunlit and swinging, with bright piano and string arrangements that are perfect for warmer days.
We're excited to première the official video for "Keep You Around," a vibrant visual to accompany to the utterly addictive pop song. The band collaborated with Yellowbox Films, with Koeppen dreaming up the concept and putting together the video treatment. They filmed it at a warehouse space in Glendale and around downtown Phoenix, fancifully gliding through the story of a woman wrestling with her lover's quirks.
We also got to catch up with Koeppen, who talked about the making of the video and what to expect from Timekeeper.
New Times: How did you connect with Yellowbox Films for this? Have you worked with them before?
Steff Koeppen: Cory Davis of Yellowbox and I have been friends for about five years now. He's actually done three other videos for the band in the past! I was excited to reconnect with Cory on this video concept as I knew he'd make it look good. Filming was also a lot more comfortable this time around because of the working relationship we've developed over the years.
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How long did it take you to learn the dance and who choreographed it?
Samuel Wiseman (male actor-dancer in the video) and I met up three times within the month before the shoot to co-choreograph and rehearse parts. It took me a little longer to pick things up, so I practiced in the mirror a lot at home during those few weeks. I had a general vibe and outline of ideas together, and brought those to Sam for us to collaborate on.
How would you describe the video in five words?
Fun, sassy, cute, vibrant, theatrical
What is "Keep You Around" about?
The song is about recognizing the value someone brings to your life when you find yourself getting hung up on their flaws, downfalls, or annoying tendencies. It definitely toggles back and forth between feelings of doubt and certainty. In the video, my character's unsureness leaves me rejected in the end when Sam's character is finally over it.
What else can we expect from Timekeeper?
A few more upbeat, fun pop tunes like "Keep You Around," but also many darker, emotional tunes. You can also expect some newly incorporated sounds for the band on this record.