David Kemper was one of those guys in college who always seemed untouchable, distant – at least I made him seem that way because I found him so intriguing as a person. Now, more than ten years later, I still find him intriguing and quite thoughtful, as I’m sure his answers will show. Of course now, I’m not too scared to talk to him, and that makes me happy

How would you describe your music? How would you describe your sound? Who are your influences?

My music… I love calling it that. If you’ve ever just stumbled on something that was totally you and other at the same time, you’ve already experienced what I do with my music. Not like that perfect pair of shoes… but that book that really speaks, or that quintessential poem which revolves around the kernel: you have not adored. My music convicts me.

The songs are arranged standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus for the most part, which I guess places them in a pop category… and since they do tend to have some melodic hook –a ridiculous accident—I’m more comfortable with affirming it’s place in the genre. When I seek to describe what I make I realize how ego-centric the whole process is… and I’d like to seek honest reduction. I wish I could be objective. But I’m too involved. I’ve been corrupted by Thom Yorke of Radiohead embracing every lyric with absolute release… or Black Francis, of The Pixies, irreverently snarling a cat call into an alley… or Jónsi Birgisson, of Sigur Rós, elevating a landscape and razing a mountain. How could a man not be influenced by these?

What’s the best part about playing music? The worst?
To play music is to make imminent the idea that I am small and I don’t understand what I’m feeling, but here’s what I’ve got at the moment. That is the best and worst part.

If you were a spice, what spice would you be and why?

I remember the Spice Girls… so I don’t know if I can answer this one. How about an herb? Is hops an herb?

You get to tour with anyone, who do you pick?
Vampire Weekend would be a ton of fun to tour with, not that our music would match up all that much. Of course I’m thinking of who’s touring now. Touring with Superdrag would be no less raucous.

A lot of my readers are book fans, so could you recommend a few titles for them.

Most of the books I read are for self education purposes. I teach Greek and Roman History/Literature for 8th graders and a British Lit class for 10th graders at a classical Christian school in Harrisburg, PA… would it be fair to offer up Homer, Thucidides, Plato, Plautus or maybe Dickens, Lewis, Shakespeare, Chesterton?

You get to be any animal; what animal do you pick?

Man is an animal. I’d like to be a better man.

Where do you see your music going in the future? What part would you like it to have in your life?

I understand that my life has a different calling than any kind of professional music career. My goal has always been to hack away at some kind of expression that is earnest, without taking it all too seriously. I’m not going to sell a million records with The Thrives. I’m not going to win a Grammy for any song I write, but music will always be a part of living.

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced?

I’m not skilled enough to describe the most beautiful thing… I can at least name the second most beautiful… the sleepy-sore-wonder of bouncing my newborn daughter to sleep wishing we didn’t need it since that would mean no more eyes searching each other’s till the next feeding.

Based on where you are in life today, what advice would you give someone that you think is crucial, either musically or generally?

The one piece of advice I can give is to not take my advice.

My readers need a mixtape, so what 10-12 songs would you put on there for them, based on your mood today?

“Keep it Close to Me” by Superdrag
“House of Cards” by Radiohead
“Hospital Inside Me” by The Secret Life of Sofia (now called Milagres)
“Unintended” by Muse
“Nocturne op. 9 Nr./No. 1 b-moll/in B flat minor” by Chopin
“Glósóli” by Sigur Rós
“The Man Who Sold The World” by David Bowie
“Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung” by The Flaming Lips
“Too Far to Touch” by The Thrives
“No Surprises” by Radiohead
“Human” by The Killers
“Hljomalind” by Sigur Rós

Keep an eye out for David’s band, The Thrives. You can also watch for their next shows on Facebook. Happy listening.

David Kemper