Spotlight of the Week: Nineteen Thirteen

Nineteen Thirteen is the chamber rock duo of cellist Janet Schiff and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo. They are so-named for the year Schiff’s cello was made. Their music is difficult to classify but contains elements of jazz and art rock; sometimes they play as a quartet. Their most recent single “Cello and Drums Forever” dropped at the end of January.

ME: How did you guys get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?

JANET: Well, Victor told me about Wisconsin Music Ventures. One day I was over here for rehearsal and said he’d met this interesting woman who is placing Wisconsin musicians in interesting venues.

VICTOR: We thought that Allison would like to work with us, and we met her originally over at No Studios. We talked about maybe doing something, and then after a while Janet and I came on board, so now we have done a couple things with her.

JANET: I’ve been going to some of the Zoom information sessions and Green Room Member meetings.

ME: Yeah, it’s a good community. When I saw that you guys joined I was happy because I love seeing musicians that I’ve interacted with before come aboard on the team.

ME: My next question is about your latest song “Cello and Drums Forever.” Tell us about this one.

JANET: That one started out as a cell phone recording as I was plucking out a bass line to a new song, and I sent it to our producer for this album and he’d extracted the parakeets from the track, structured that bass line and then we added drums a couple times.

VICTOR: It developed from some wild drum tracks that I’d sent Josh – Josh Schmidt is the producer. He took the drum tracks and fashioned them into the rhythmic parts, and then Janet wrote music to go over the drum patterns. So far we have this one song out, and we’re working on a full-length record that will probably come out sometime maybe in the fall. We’re hard at work developing that right now.

ME: Well that’s very exciting! Can’t wait for it.

ME: My next question is more of a fun one. What’s the most unusual place you have played a show?

VICTOR: Well, it was odd; we had just played down at the Lakefront this past fall and we were playing amongst those big plastic birds that were down there, and we had a strange audience of people that came to see us on all different kinds of lawn chairs and some people were just laying on the ground.

JANET: It looked like we were busking.

VICTOR: A lot of places just because we’re playing there, they become weird.

ME: (laughs)

VICTOR: Circle A is a stranger place to play, but certainly a marvelous and wonderful place to play.

ME: I love Circle A. I think I’ll actually be going there for a show in a couple weeks actually.

VICTOR: We haven’t been there since dear Paul passed, which is still very sad.

ME: Yeah, RIP Paul.

ME: Janet, how was your birthday show?

JANET: That was great! We had a full house at Anodyne; that was the quickest sound check we ever did, that guy was awesome. And what a wonderful place to play…I love those big halls where I can hear the cello’s natural reverberation going on. Great family and friends came and it was a really nice night.

VICTOR: Something that was really fun and a surprise – we were playing our set and I saw this person come from the back with a saxophone case, and the guy started walking up to the stage – proceeded to walk onto the stage – put his case down – opened it up – put the sax together – and then just started playing along to us. I didn’t know who this guy was; Janet knew him and invited him but forget to tell me he’d be coming (laughs). I thought it was just someone crashing the gig. But he sounded fantastic and the audience went insane. I was laughing so hard because we were doing a lot of improvisation but he was right there with us.

JANET: I did a wedding the previous week with him; his name is Christopher Pipkins. He really surprised me; I had just met him and asked for a guest ticket so I thought he was just coming with his wife but he came with his saxophone instead (laughs). We just jammed for about twenty minutes and then he took off!

VICTOR: Yeah, he just left and I never got to meet him! It was like a phantom musician that was on stage and then was gone.

JANET: Victor had the mic and was like, “did that just happen?” (laughs). It was a great gift.

ME: My last question is, what is Nineteen Thirteen currently working on?

VICTOR: Well, we’re in the process of finishing another full-length album. We just released the single “Cello and Drums Forever” on all digital platforms. It really points us in a new direction with the sound of the recording; it’s the first time Janet and I are working with an outside producer, which is very exciting. Josh is a composer in his own right and he’s also a great arranger. We’ve got some live shows too, right Janet?

JANET: Yeah, our next one is February 20th at the Back Room at Colectivo; we’re opening for our friend Langhorne Slim, who we’ve played about eight shows with over the years.

VICTOR: April Fool’s Day we’re playing at The Jazz Estate, which is one of our favorite places to play.

JANET: June 3rd we have a private party, and June 9th is when we’re at Anodyne again. Then we just got asked to do Local/Live, so we’ll be on WMSE March 1st at 6PM.

Visit Nineteen Thirteen’s website here.

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