Beck Song Reader Interview: Steve Lee

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Hi.  It’s us again.  Ready for Saturday?  In preparation, we’ve already brought you articles/interviews with Ben Elkins of EL EL, Jared Corder of *repeat repeat, Milktooth, Daniel Ellsworth, Park Chisolm, and Anna Haas who will also be bringing Beck’s “Song Reader” sheet music to life.  Not to mention the spotlight we did of headliners Colorfeels.  Now, it is time for us to have some fun with Mr. Steve Lee.

There is more info about the party at this link here, or you can hop over to the Facebook page if that is more your speed. This thing is surely going to reach capacity, so make sure you get there early to celebrate this special night of music with us!

The legend of Steve Lee has lingered long around our hallowed halls (jesus, that sounds like a Harry Potter novel), but we only met Mr. Lee recently. The frame of reference for our meeting was at a recent 8 off 8th performance hosted by El El, and within minutes I was laughing hysterically. Steve’s current musical project is Yumzah which focuses on educational songs for children. Now, you might be saying the same thing I said before seeing them, “Why in the hell would I want to go see someone perform songs written for a two year old?” The reason why is that they are amazingly arranged, fun, tightly performed, energetic, danceable songs that have ear to ear smiles on the faces of the dancing audience (yes, apparently people in Nashville do dance sometimes).

After the set, Steve sat down to talk with us, and we immediately understood the legend of Steve Lee. His carefree sense of humor is contagious, and his creativity in even simple conversation punches you in the face. We immediately knew that we had to have him perform one of the songs from Beck’s Song Reader for our Second Anniversary Party on Saturday at The Basement.

You can read his entertaining interview, hear some Yumzah, and check out the hysterical commercial that Steve put together for Saturday night after the jump.

Before we even get started, I think you should go ahead and watch the commercial that Steve made for the party on Saturday. It will give a better idea of the shenanigans that happened when we chatted.

Ok, now you are ready.

Can you give our readers a better understanding of your band Yumzah?

Yumzah is the happiest band in the land. It’s “kids music” that does not speak down or treat children like they are imbeciles. Musically and production-wise it’s as professional as anything else out there. The ultimate goal of Yumzah is to inspire people to work hard, be themselves, and love music.

How in the hell did you come up with this idea?

My past is pretty dark. I do not want to frighten your readers. But to let you know the range of experiences that led to Yumzah, I was doing everything from tour managing (The Wood Brothers, Medeski Martin & Wood, Ralphie May) to working in ice cream shops. The frozen treats field is great because people can never really get mad when you hand them a mango yogurt swirl with ginger granola.

These children’s songs are hysterical, topical, educational, and yet still awesome enough to make the sometimes jaded Nashville music fans dance. How did you get into doing this?

Thank you that’s very nice. The spirit moved me! I played guitar during middle school, but never felt called to write a “boohoo baby I miss you” love songs. I used to do medleys for talent shows. I can do a great verison of “Amazing Grace” that segues into “Can You Take Me Higher” by Creed to fill that void inside.

One day I wrote a song for my friend’s birthday and it was kid-esque, and the kraken was released. It certainly helps with my current day job as a preschool music teacher, too. Oh yeah!

With all the bands in Nashville, what, besides the obvious hilarity of the kids songs, makes Yumzah stand out?

Cool swooping hair cuts and rolled up jeans. Fun? Ridiculousness? We are just happy to be here and have a good time.

What about made you want to be a part of the Beck Song Reader?

Well, I love Beck and I love songs and I love reading! It’s pretty neat Beck puts this out, and now it is giving people an opportunity to come together and make music. This show would not be happening if Beck didn’t put this record together. I guess we could really say this show would not be happening if Beck wasn’t born but that’s minor details.

What song are you doing?

Old Shanghai

Who are you most excited to see perform at the party?

el el they are so amazing…. Our generations Toto.

*Why are you so attractive?

Vitamin E.

*the final question was self-submitted by Steve in a follow up email.

You can check out Steve’s sure-to-be-amazing performance of “Old Shanghai” on Saturday at The Basement. To understand more about Yumzah, you can attempt to get the full appreciation from the player below, but really you have to make a point to get out to see one of his shows!

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