PLAYING SEATTLE: Sundae + Mr. Goessl Let Originality Shine on Fun & Fancy

Kaija Rae Photography

Eight years ago, Kate Voss tapped Jason Goessl on the shoulder at a party after recognizing him from a performance he had a few weeks prior. “I asked if he’d like to play music with me sometime. He gave me a big smile and said ‘yes,’” remembers Voss.

That ‘yes’ turned into more than an occasional jam session. Quickly, Voss and Goessl realized that they were both “borderline obsessed” with the jazz music of the 1930s, and they began playing around Seattle as Sundae + Mr. Goessl in 2013. Then, they fell in love. Voss and Goessl married in 2015 and after losing their Seattle apartment in late 2017, have been living, touring, and rehearsing full-time from their RV, and as Voss jokes, “are still married!”

“It’s definitely a very unique and fun life… never a dull moment,” says Voss. “We started video documenting some of our tours and adventures because there really isn’t a ‘typical’ day in this work. We’ve been averaging 250 shows a year since 2015 all over the country, so our days vary a lot. Traveling, performing, practicing, booking, admin work, taxes, recording, marketing, and doing our best to stay healthy. We’ve been living in ‘Harvey’ the RV since August of 2018 and enjoy the adventure with our Chihuahua Jackie Osassis.”

Sundae + Mr. Goessl have made six albums in six years, and on March 19th they’ll officially debut their latest, Fun & Fancy at their official release party at The Triple Door. Half of its thirteen tracks represent fun to them while the others represent feeling fancy, with inspiration coming from some unlikely sources – including one of Voss’s beloved childhood VHS tapes.

“The concept actually came to us through one of the cover songs we put on the record called ‘Lazy Countryside.’ It’s from a Disney cartoon released in 1947 called Bongo, about a circus bear who was mistreated and escaped to be a ‘real bear’ and live in the forest but didn’t have much ‘real bear’ experience. I watched it repeatedly with my siblings… probably over 100 times,” she says. “The [cartoon] was a double feature called Fun and Fancy-Free and it got me thinking about our music and how we often put a light-hearted stamp on our sometimes-complex arrangements and thought Fun & Fancy perfectly described who we were as musicians and as people.”

Like previous releases, Fun & Fancy showcases the duo at their best: Voss’s playful vocals backed up by Goessl’s versatile guitar accompaniment, with some choice, cherry-on-top improvisational flourishes. Fun & Fancy also showcases a few musical firsts for the couple — it’s the first full-length album they’ve recorded away from the big city bustle in Goessl’s quieter home state of Wisconsin, and it features quite a few of their newly-penned originals.

“We recorded this record at Pine Hollow with Evan Middlesworth outside of Eau Claire. We played a few concerts at Pine Hollow over the years and always loved the vibe. It’s a spacious studio in the country that has an off the grid vibe and an oversized golden retriever named Dug,” says Goessl. “I wanted to be away from a big city and not feel any influence when recording this album. I grew up in Wisconsin and went to college in Eau Claire, so the recording process in this particular area was a wonderfully personal, full circle connection for me.”

After several songwriting successes over the years, including the nomination of the title track on their 2016 album, “Makes My Heart Sway,” for an Independent Music Award in 2017, both Voss and Goessl also wanted Fun & Fancy to display as many of their originals as possible. It’s these songs that really shine, with no offense to other legendary songwriters featured, like Gershwin and Edith Piaf.

“We are lucky in that we both write music and lyrics. We had very specific intentions on our spring tour last year to write as much as possible and we ended up giving ourselves a writing retreat in Yellow Springs, Ohio,” says Voss.

Of the fresh songs, “Darlene,” “Second in Line,” “Might as Well (Cuz Love is Hell)“ and “I Love My Baby Better,” particularly stand out both as fun, relatable ditties with that earworm quality and as canvases for both musician’s deep knowledge of vintage country, mid-century Bossa Nova, early swing and The Great American Songbook.

“We are hoping to break into a broader scene with more original music while still keeping our vintage style and verve with Fun & Fancy. Sometimes we feel not jazzy enough for the jazz scene and too jazzy for the folk scene, but one thing we do know is that people tend to have a lot of fun at our shows (ourselves included) and often the feedback we get is ‘I don’t even like jazz, but I love you guys.’ That’s just the attitude we’re seeking when we are on the road,” says Voss.

After the March 19th release show in Seattle, the couple has plans to head out on the road with Fun & Fancy – they have 60 dates planned after April 1st. Despite their transient touring lifestyle, they still consider Seattle their home base.

“We both moved to Seattle in 2001… Even with 16+ months on the road the past two years and a ‘Home is where you park it’ mentality, we always come back to Seattle. My family is here and no matter where we might land in the future, we will always be coming back to the PNW,” promises Voss.

For more information on Sundae + Mr. Goessl, visit their website.

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