In the spotlight – Trapper Schoepp

In the spotlight – Trapper Schoepp

In the spotlight – Trapper Schoepp is a Milwaukee (USA) folk-rock singer perhaps best known for his co-write with Bob Dylan, ‘On, Wisconsin’. He was born in Red Wing, Minnesota – home of the boots, and grew up in the nearby town of Ellsworth, Wisconsin – cheese curd capital of the world.

“Growing up in the country, you learn to make your own fun. I think that’s still in me today wherever I go.”

After a back injury from BMX bike riding, his mother signed him up for guitar lessons as a safer hobby.

“I heard Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’ in a BMX bike movie when I was laid up with a herniated disc. I think that was the spark.”

When did you start singing / playing guitar?

“At 16! Good timing with getting my license.”

What can you tell me about the first song you wrote and recorded?

“It may or may not have been sentimental hogwash but ya gotta start somewhere. The recording is solid though, as a local flamenco group helped us in their home studio. They’re called Terra Guitarra.”

What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?

“I do like making music videos and little movies in general, so I think I may have went down that path.”

What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?

“I like to sing about those living on the fringes of society that may not be as well represented in song. Drag queens, veterans, heroic women, immigrants. I try not to just write another love song, although I got plenty of those too.”

What musicians have really been inspiring you  since you first started making music? Who would you still love to work with?

“Recently more Irish musicians like the Chieftains, Pogues, Paul Brady, Glen Hansard. There’s an uplifting quality in that kind of music that can make you laugh and cry at the same time.”

Bob Dylan plays a big part in your musical history. How did your co-write with Bob Dylan ‘On, Wisconsin’ come about?

“I saw an article on Facebook about two sheets of lyrics Dylan wrote about Wisconsin that were up for auction. At 30k, I couldn’t afford it but I wrote a song with the lyrics that eventually caught the attention of Bob’s reps and voila!”

To what extent do you draw influence for lyrics from areas outside music? What social issues are you most passionate about?

“There’s so much to be worried about in this age of anxiety but I try to focus small on organisations I’ve worked with like RAINN, Harmony 4 Hope (rare diseases) and Guitars 4 Vets.”

What are you hoping to achieve when you sit down and write a song?

“To capture that little bit of magic. I’m more of an inspired songwriter and typically don’t just sit down and hammer it out every morning. That works for many, too.”

Are you also thinking about how songs might sound on stage when you’re writing and recording them?

“No, because I think they’re two completely different crafts.”

Do you have any particular habits or rituals when you create music?

“My mentor Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum always said, “Just finish the damn song!” So I try not to sit for days on a line or rhyme.”

You’re currently on tour. What do you feel when you walk on stage and what is your favourite thing about playing live shows?

“Just breaking down that fourth wall between the audience and musicians can be nice, especially after the isolation of the pandemic.”

What’s your most memorable concert experience?

“Town Hall in NYC!”

What’s on the horizon?

“Tour, tour, tour! Catch us on the East Coast and Midwest this month. Tickets are available on my website.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“‘Losing Touch’ by Heart Sauce. It’s a groovy jam with great artwork.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track?

“Gotta go with my latest tune, ‘Secrets of the Breeze’, inspired by a paddle board accident on Lake Michigan that gave me a renewed sense of respect for Mother Nature and its mysteries.”

(Photos by Andrew Feller)


Leave a Reply