(c) Mitch Keller

If you’re searching for snappy music with fun guitar riffs, look no further – Trapper Schoepp is the answer you’ve been waiting for. This Wisconsin native is on the rise while preparing to drop his next album, May Day, and he released his latest single, “River Called Disaster,” earlier this month.

“‘River Called Disaster’ is about getting swept up in currents and feeling out of control,” Schoepp exclusively tells TREMG. “We’ve all been there and I think the river is an apt metaphor for that kind of feeling. This was the first song I hashed out entirely on a piano, so it’s special to me in that way, too.”

The song’s music video brings the fluid water imagery to life, placing Schoepp in a coursing river and later setting a piano on fire. As he explained, “It felt symbolic of the song and the last year we’ve endured. The video is bookended by me walking to and from the piano and in the middle are the flames. I liked the idea of the piano representing the struggle and the fire being a way to work past it.”

What was once b-roll footage shows Schoepp playing the song on a porch-like platform, which was “actually a stage that was built for the Lake Country House Concert series in Wisconsin,” after burning his piano, adding an ironically cozy vibe to the video. Once the team filmed the flaming piano scene, their drone camera hit a tree and they couldn’t use it for the rest of the river scenes they imagined. They filmed the rest of the clips they needed on an iPhone and added more of those stage scenes than they originally planned.

The music video highlights what Schoepp does best: creating vivid stories and environments through his lyrics. 

A seasoned songwriter, he already shares a co-writing credit with the legendary Bob Dylan on his 2019 track “On, Wisconsin.” After reading a Rolling Stone article about a once-lost Dylan lyric sheet that was up for auction, Schoepp wrote his own lyrics to complete the song and later got approval to release it from Dylan himself. All this came over ten years after Schoepp went to a Bob Dylan concert in his early teens, having no clue that he’d later work with Dylan and become a successful musician in his own right.

“It was surreal, of course,” he says of the collaboration. “In terms of songwriters to share a credit with, it doesn’t get much better than Bob Dylan! It was all very much in line with the folk process that Dylan has used throughout his career – picking up a song where another has left off. It was wildly serendipitous that the song was written about Wisconsin and I’m from there. Songs of mine tend to come through in peculiar ways, but this one takes the cake.”

In addition to writing his upcoming album, May Day, during quarantine, Schoepp improved his piano skills so he could play the instrument on songs for the record, including “River Called Disaster” and another track called “Solo Quarantine.”

“[‘Solo Quarantine’] is a pandemic-era tale of a desperate guy who rings up his ex late at night and goes on and on without leaving much room in the conversation for her,” he shares. “I heard that these sort of interactions between exes became somewhat of a phenomenon during lockdown, which I thought was a bit tragic and humorous.”

The record will also feature songs like “Hotel Astor,” about a chilling hotel Schoepp stayed at in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and “Paris Syndrome,” inspired by the shock some tourists experience when they visit the City of Lights and it’s not what they expected. What’s especially poignant is that these vivid, travel-inspired songs will come after the world has frozen in its tracks, making the record a promising replacement for the lack of concerts that would allow him to celebrate the music and his experiences with fans.

As Schoepp puts it, “The pandemic devastated the live music industry but the need to be transported through song remained. I hope May Day offers that sort of escape.”

The May Day album cover, courtesy of One in a Million Media, reimagines a photo of a May Day celebration from the 1920s. May Day is a holiday on May 1st that celebrates the springtime and rebirth after winter, and it’s also Schoepp’s birthday, making it the perfect title for an album that came out of such a dismal time.

We can’t wait to hear the rest of Trapper Schoepp’s May Day record on May 21st! In the meantime, you can check out “River Called Disaster” on your favorite streaming service now.

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