Music News & Reviews

Q&A with Rosie Steffy of Oakland quartet La Dee Da

The Oakland band La Dee Da can’t be described in a single sentence.

The quintet has folk instrumentation, but isn’t a folk band. It gives off a slightly Jethro Tull vibe, but that’s just the flute, and the way it contrasts epic rock with flights of whimsy.

The band released its debut album, “A Day in the Park,” in 2013 and is recording its second album while playing shows. I talked with pianist and singer Rosie Steffy in advance of the band’s concert Saturday, Feb. 21 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

“Golly gee, an interview!” Steffy says. “How fun.”

Let’s start with the basics. Who does what in the band?

Answer: Daniel Fleischer plays drums, Aaron Handler plays upright bass, Lewis Patzner is on cello, Rebecca Kleinmann plays flute and I play Wurlitzer (piano) and sing.

How did you get together?

Well, I have been writing quirky songs on piano and singing them in living rooms around the world for 12 years now, mostly in Oakland. Aaron and I met through common interests (tacos and bicycling) and decided to jam about eight years back. Then, when I was practicing in my living room, Fletch (the drummer) sat down at his kit and started playing along (it happened to be his living room, too) and it sounded awesome. Once we were a three piece the other two trickled in, probably because they liked the music. And also I make great macaroni and cheese.

Describe your music in one sentence.

Well, what do you want? Outlandish or professional?

The secret of La Dee Da is that we traipse between these realms. It’s pretty hard to pin down the music because there’s a lot going on ... La Dee Da is Rosie Steffy’s heartfelt, surreal piano pop songs overlaid with an intricate yet playful web of drums, bass, flute, cello and slithering tambourine. Wait! No, we fired that guy.

La Dee Da is what happens when you put musicians with jazz, rock, classical, metal and Brazilian roots in the same room with an artsy singer-songwriter. Give them a piano, cello, flute, bass and drums and let them create a soundtrack to your dreams that flurries between realms like a dragonfly through jungle, desert and rainforest. And also this dragonfly tells some good jokes.

For contrast, here’s the one-liner we use to get bookings: “Oakland quintet La Dee Da makes imaginative pop music. As slow, captivating melodies shift seamlessly into lively grooves, the band creates a sonic dreamscape of piano, cello, flute, bass, drums and sweet female vocals. Stellar musicianship, thoughtful lyrics and moments of fiery improvisation make La Dee Da an unforgettable musical experience.”

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