LET’S TALK ABOUT BOOBS
Grammy-nominated musician Erica von Kleist bares all.
“M ultitalented jazz musician Erica von Kleist’s projects include the one-woman show BOOBS, which debuted last year in Whitefish, and her upcoming “zoomical.” She’s also a music teacher and arts entrepreneur, founding the nonprofit Groovetrail to bring live music into nursing homes and support jazz education in schools.
A: How does a world-renowned jazz musician end up in Montana?
E: I lived in New York for 12 years before getting a gig with Alpine Theatre Project in 2012. I loved Whitefish and thought, “If I’m going to be a poor musician, I might as well live somewhere beautiful.” All my jazz friends thought I was crazy. I sure showed them! There’s a sustainable economy for the arts here, and Flatheaders have a thirst for culture and experiencing new things, which is encouraging.
A: Tell us about BOOBS.
E: Being a woman in a male-dominated field, I’ve experienced lots of discrimination. From those experiences I started writing all these songs about women’s issues: mansplaining, office culture, abortion, menstruation… Once I had all these songs, it just naturally evolved into my one-woman show. The reception was really positive—I’ve gotten fan art, messages, cards on my doorstep… Anyone who wants to give me pushback is probably afraid they’ll end up in one of my songs. Then COVID happened and kind of put everything on hold for now. I released my “Mansplaining” music video earlier this year, but it really is all up in the air. That’s just COVID stuff. But the content is growing. It’s heaving. Just lactating…
A: What the heck is a “zoomical”?
E: It’s an online musical. At the beginning of quarantine, my friends Mikey Wynn and David Blair and I started writing all these satirical songs about COVID, and we’re turning it into a full-blown online production called Your Musical is Cancelled: The Musical.
A: What were the challenges of creating it?
E: With any artistic project, when its birth depends on the artistic input of your cast and your orchestra, there’s a line you must cross where you have no control over what you’re about to put out into the world. That’s the hardest part. It doesn’t matter if it’s online. It doesn’t matter if it’s in real life. You have to trust your artists, you have to trust their equipment because they all filmed themselves remotely. We’re editing footage which was not filmed by us, but so far so good. Our incredible cast includes both local talent as well as performers from Broadway, and they’re all equally amazing!
A: Where can we see Your Musical is Cancelled: The Musical?
E: It’s almost ready! Keep an eye on our website: urmusicaliscancelledthemusicalthewebsite.com
A: What’s next for Erica von Kleist?
E: At least for winter, I want to sit in front of my fire, teach some piano lessons, and have great dinners with friends. If that’s my future from here on out, I’m happy.
This interview was edited for clarity and length.
Photos: Mandy Mohler
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