Cut & Paste: Sample Kulture Aims For The Head And The Heart On Debut Album
Andrew Stephen, a native of Ballwin, was staying at a friend’s house after graduating from high school when he figured he’d assemble his bits and pieces of audio gear into a makeshift recording space.
About a day later, he learned that a family friend had died and bequeathed Stephen his sizable collection of recording equipment. The mixing console moved into the bedroom and Stephens’ mattress moved out, to an attic crawlspace — at least when other musicians swung by to check out his bedroom-cum-recording-studio.
Chrissy Renick, a vocalist and keyboardist from Cape Girardeau, was among them. He produced her debut EP, “A Thousand Shades,” in 2012. It’s a sometimes-sultry, sometimes-funky affair, informed by the sounds of contemporary R&B and neo soul.
“It was a very life-changing conversation and a turning point for me,” Renick said of her first meeting with Stephen. Their conversation encouraged her to move to St. Louis a few months later and pursue life as a professional musician.
They became a couple. Renick performed around town as a solo artist and with other bands, and Stephen built a business as a recording engineer and producer. But after years of pursuing separate musical ventures, in August they released their first album as a duo: Sample Kulture.
“Upstairs Headroom” explores similar territory as “A Thousand Shades,” with deeper drinks of jazz fusion, electronic elements and ear-friendly pop poured into the style. The pair describe it as “future soul.”
“Let’s dig more into the pop. Let’s give into the gods of pop music here,” Stephen said of Sample Kulture’s approach. “And still be able to get that jazz, harmonic language in there — some improvisation, some sophistication that listeners will appreciate.”
In this episode of Cut & Paste, Stephen and Renick talk about how they found their way to each other, and to the birth of Sample Kulture.