The 2017 Nash Next challenge is down to 10 finalists, and in the lead-up to the announcement of the champion on Nov. 1, NCD will be profiling each of the 10 finalists.
Today, we are getting to know sibling duo Schatzi + the String Boffin.
In May, Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group invited aspiring country artists and bands to participate in Nash Next 2017, a grassroots talent search and artist development program for country music. Sponsored nationally by Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, the winner of the competition will receive a recording contract with Nash Next Records under the Big Machine Label Group and garner substantial exposure, commensurate with a major-label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide.
The 10 finalists were selected by a panel of country radio professionals and will be judged in the finale by a group that includes Brooks & Dunn’s Kix Brooks and Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group. The 10 finalists will perform at the 2017 Nash Next finale event at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is open to the public.
Schatzi + the String Boffin
How did you get started in music?
Ben: I first saw an electric guitar at a yard sale that my parents took me to when I was a kid. The man who owned the house started to play it and I got very excited. I begged and pleaded for my parents to buy it for me, but they thought I was just a kid in awe of a shiny toy. Years later my aunt bought me a classical guitar while she was in Brazil. I used that guitar to learn the basic “cowboy chords” that my family would play in their jam sessions, but eventually, after seeing my Uncle Bobo play his old Gibson hollow body in our jam sessions, I became more serious about playing lead guitar and began to take lessons from a teacher in a local music store who helped me out a lot. I’ve been addicted ever since.
Dannica: As Ben said, music is ingrained in our family. We grew up playing in family jam sessions with all of our aunts, uncles and cousins, and when I was 13, I was gifted my grandfather’s old Hohner guitar after he passed away. That guitar had the family mojo and I immediately started writing my own songs. You can feel the power in it when you pick it up. The songs write themselves.
At what age did you realize you wanted to make music your career?
Ben: Around high school, 15 or 16 years old, I was made aware that a person could make a living being a professional musician, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever.
Dannica: I always knew, since I was about 5, that I wanted to be a singer. I told people in school that I was going to be a musician, never convinced it was a pipe dream. As I got older, I kinda got it in my head that I needed to prepare for adulthood and choose a “real job.” When I became aware that people could actually play music and not starve to death, though, that’s when I dropped out of college and quit my job and really face-planted into the craft.
What is the origin of your band’s name?
Dannica: “Schatzi” is a German term of endearment, similar to “darling” or “sweetheart.” A “boffin” is a technical expert or someone who has a difficult craft, in British slang. For instance, a CPA might be called a “tax boffin.” Since my brother went to school for classical music, he can play nearly all stringed instruments, so we call him the “string boffin.” We found the words in the dictionary [laughing]. They were the “Words of the Day” on a dictionary app. We were having trouble coming up with a band name, and our dad told us to pick random words from the dictionary, so we did. We are absolutely open to re-branding [laughing].
What three words describe you?
Ben: Tasteful. Melodic. Enigmatic.
Dannica: Enigmatic is so true for Ben. I would say that I am soulful, raw, and determined.
What is unique about your sound?
Ben: The most unique thing about our band’s sound is its combination of genres and styles. My sister has a very soulful vocal style, as is my guitar playing. But we also have numbers on the album that really go back to our funky, bluegrass roots. I think it’s the amalgamation of different styles that makes us cool.
What three albums would you take with you to a deserted island?
Ben: John Scofield’s A Go Go, Merle Haggard’s Greatest Hits and George Benson’s Revisiting Abbey Road.
Dannica: Prince’s Greatest Hits, Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin II and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
What’s a song you wish you had written?
Dannica: “Fancy” by Reba McEntire. The story in that song gives me chills every time I hear it.
Ben: “Lost Highway” by Hank Williams.
What was the first concert you attended?
Ben: Dream Theater in Atlanta in the summer of 2009—I was a nerd.
Dannica: Brooks & Dunn and Reba in Pensacola in the ’90s. I was 7 and completely awestruck.
What’s the last song you heard that blew you away?
Ben: “The Race Is On” by George Jones.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Dannica: “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar.
Where is the craziest place you’ve performed?
Dannica: Crazy, as in surreal: Aaron’s Amphitheater in Atlanta. Crazy, as in the most fun: Sancho’s in San Antonio. Crazy, as in you might get tetanus and die: Springwater Supper Club in Nashville.