If you’ve been searching for decent rock in a post-rock Brooklyn, hopefully you’ve come across The Britanys by now. If you’re ahead of the game and you’re now seeking the chilled out after party of that Brooklyn rock show, you’re about to come across STEELE.
The 25 year old drummer of The Britanys, former pup caretaker at an animal shelter/vet clinic, and current middle school soccer coach recently released his first two tracks.
STEELE, known colloquially as Steele Kratt is no Brooklyn transplant. He grew up on Broome Street in lower Manhattan before moving to Bushwick with his mom in high school. After high school he attended The New School’s jazz program for about a year before dropping out.
“School’s not my thing,” he says.
His time in higher education wasn’t wasted. There he met his most of his future Britanys bandmates and they formed the self-proclaimed “worst band in bushwick.” Since then Steele decided to branch out with his music career.
“When I got older and realized music was something I wanted to be doing, I didn’t want to just be a guy that played drums and that’s it. Being the drummer in a band is kind of like being the goalie on a soccer team – you’re part of it but you don’t have the same skillset as everyone else…And then I kind of just got carried away.”
Steele’s writing process is intertwined with his recording process. He writes as he records, so “when the song is done, the recording’s done.” All the instruments come from his bedroom in Bushwick where he programs drums and plugs in guitar and bass.
“I have Ableton running and I program the drums, and then I plug in the bass and just do everything in DI. So I’m playing every instrument on it and recording and then I’ll bring it upstairs to my roommate who knows more about mixing and production than I do. I’ll have him take a look at it and do a few knob adjustments and that’s it. It’s pretty much just on my own, my little secret thing that I was doing for a while. It’s fun.”
As a beginning songwriter, Steele’s songs have a definite appeal. It’s more relaxed than The Britanys, less focused on playing the track loud and live, and rooted in his rock influences – The Beatles, Brian Eno, etc. Steele’s rhythmic influences run through his work with the band and in his solo songs – straightforward rhythms that bob along and meld into the body of the song. Upbeat, but not fighting for attention.
Steele shares a similar character. As serious as he is about music, he holds no pretensions. He doesn’t have much public image yet, but what he’s put out so far feels similar to The Britanys’ quirky social media presence, populated by meta humor and a proud rejection of polish.
“I want [my music] to feel kind of familiar…I’m making a thing that people can listen to and hopefully relate to, but at the same time I’m a light-hearted goofy person. I want to be able to make serious music but that’s not taken too seriously. So whatever light hearted stuff I can do along with that, I’d say that’s a good brand.” There’s a playful sarcasm to his voice when he laughs. “Familiar, casual, but…” Pause for effect. “Relatable.”
At the beginning of the interview he said he was coloring a T-shirt. Towards the end I asked him about it.
“I’m working on some ‘merch’ right now,” he says. “I got my dad to send me a picture of a basketball trading card of mine from when I was on a Saturday basketball team when I was like 10 years old – a little trading card of me as a chubby 10 year old after playing a game with sweaty long hair holding a basketball looking real fierce.”
He explains this choice in a tone that makes me wonder exactly how much he’s joking.
“Because…I love sports. Who doesn’t want to buy a shirt with a little chubby boy who you might think is a girl in the picture?”
“On brand right?” I ask.
Listen to STEELE’s latest tracks and watch out for new releases here.