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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Who is Herschel?

Who is Herschel?

Twenty-nine-year-old Herschel has been making music for almost a decade—longer if you count the raps he wrote in high school. First, he made the rounds in the L.A. band scene (indie-rock, reggae, the works). Three years ago, after moving back to Minneapolis, he broke out as a solo artist, and hasn’t looked back since. Now with a seven-piece band, he’s Herschel and the Detainees, and he’s taking over the Minneapolis music scene with his soul-pop-reggae jams.

His main calling card thus far: the flashy, larger-than-life music video for his pop hit “Out of my System.” It’s gotten more than 350,000 views on YouTube, and, more importantly, attracted the attention of booking agents and fellow artists. But although he can do over-the-top productions, Herschel’s live shows are more about the melodies, the harmonies, the stories. And he’s got quite the story to tell.

Most of Herschel's childhood was spent on the run from his abusive father with his mom and two older siblings. Summers were spent with his mom’s family down in the Virgin Islands, the influence of which you can hear in his music. When he was 14, his mom brought him to an open casting call to be a model for Dayton’s. One gig led to another, and modeling and acting has been on Herschel’s resume ever since, likely explaining why he’s so comfortable on stage and in front of cameras (which can clearly be seen in the video).

While he was a student at Washburn High School, he thought he wanted to be a journalist. But his senior year, he attended a creative-arts school, and it was there that he realized that music, not writing, was his calling. “The school had a recording studio, and I would write raps with my best friend, Alex,” Herschel tells me, a smile creeping across his face. “He would sing, I would rap, and that’s when I really thought about it.”

His biggest influence back then? Notorious B.I.G. “He was the first rap artist that I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ To this day, I think he’s just the greatest.”

Since then, the singer/songwriter has expanded his musical influences—and sound—to include such artists as Fiona Apple, Tracy Chapman, and Regina Spektor. “I tend to gravitate toward female artists,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t know why!”

Asked to describe his music, Herschel says it’s a little bit Prince, a little bit Tracy Chapman, and a little bit Otis Redding (“Otis is my all-time favorite. To hear that voice from such a young guy—there was so much pain; it sounded like he was 60. Amazing.”). Of course, there are plenty of other influences mixed in there, too, but what really matters is that no one else sounds like Herschel. No one can really even peg what Herschel sounds like—not even him.

And that’s a thing of beauty in today’s world of synthesized voices and computer-generated beats. It’s also why he can book such clubs as the Dakota Jazz Club and fill it, drawing a wide-ranging audience that includes everyone from 20-something college students to seniors who dig his soulful, bluesy vibe. On Saturday, November 17, Herschel and the Detainees will take the Dakota stage again. What to expect? Well, you’ll just have to go see for yourself.

Herschel and the Detainees
Saturday, November 17
11:30 p.m. | $5
Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant
1010 Nicollet Ave., Mpls.
612-332-1010, dakotacooks.com

Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2012 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Nov 23, 2012 01:25 pm
 Posted by  Mgrams

I saw these guys at the Dakota! They did an awesome job! Great show Hercshel and The Detainees

Dec 9, 2012 06:44 am
 Posted by  NDfamilyguy

Just saw these kids at Bunkers last night. Wife and I were skeptical but holy cow, this kid is electrifying! If you're reading this Herschel, please know that you now have 2 new fans in ND!

Dec 9, 2012 10:48 am
 Posted by  Christiansted

Fantastic band with an incredible sound!

Dec 9, 2012 12:04 pm
 Posted by  ClimbEverything

Wow. Went to the show last night at Bunkers to see Soulacious and was fortunate enough to catch the openers, Herschel and the Detainees. Blown away. Checked out the website and it brought me here. Glad to see a good band getting some good press. Keep up the good work and best of luck!

Dec 9, 2012 05:59 pm
 Posted by  kindofabigdeal

Herschel and the Detainees rock my world

Dec 10, 2012 09:16 am
 Posted by  slickb

Love the singers in this group!

Dec 11, 2012 11:45 am
 Posted by  soulbaby

Just saw these guys at the Dakota! Was really impressed. There is a lot of tallent in this band. Will definately try to catch their next show! :)

Dec 11, 2012 02:11 pm
 Posted by  schnd87

Herschel and the Detainees have an innovative style that is refreshing. Their live shows rival any band in the Twin Cities and everyone should make a point to come out and see them. Once you do, you'll be hooked.

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TC Culture spotlights everything that’s wow-worthy in Minneapolis–St. Paul’s vibrant arts, entertainment, and culture scene. Film, theater, dance, music, visual arts, events—if it’s something you just gotta do, see, or hear in the Twin Cities metro, you’ll read about it here.

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