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Rising Stars: Meet Kim (KYM) Schneider

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim (KYM) Schneider.

Hi Kim, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started playing guitar when I was 15, primarily because my older brother played guitar and I was still in the phase of “anything you try, I try” also known as “anything you can do, I am at least going to try to do better.” My first guitar was a hand-me-down $60 electric guitar from Kohls, and I didn’t have an amp to plug it into. My parents got me an acoustic guitar for my 16th birthday, and I started learning songs by The Beatles. I am primarily self-taught on the guitar, with some lessons here and there from very talented friends. In high school, I was in choir and loved to sing. When I went to college, I wanted a less formal way to continue performing. Playing campus open mics became a way to keep singing and make new friends. The more I performed, the more I kept wanting to perform.

Songwriting was initially a therapeutic way to deal with tough things and it has since become one of my biggest passions, combining my love for writing, music, and singing. Songwriting has helped me work through mental health issues, and has given me an avenue to better understand myself and my experiences as a white, femme, queer person.

By the spring of 2019, I had a handful of songs I felt strongly about so I recorded them in a closet, using recording equipment we borrowed from friends and clothes, towels, and a bedspread to soundproof. These songs later comprised the “Not 4 U” EP, which I released in March 2020, along with a dance-filled music video for the title song.

During the pandemic, I focused on songwriting and becoming a better guitar player. I worked in-person in high risk settings throughout the whole pandemic, so, like many other artists, I took a step back from performing over the last two years.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Although there have been challenges, I am very fortunate to have a deeply supportive community of friends and family. These folks lift me up when I feel discouraged and do things like drive two hours just to watch me play a half-hour solo set. Like I said above, folks lent me their time and equipment to make the EP. I was also fortunate during the recording process to have a steady job, so paying for mixing, mastering, CD and merch production, etc. wasn’t as daunting. It’s expensive to produce music! Even if you do it as cheaply as possible.

I think the largest hurdle I’ve faced as an artist is believing in myself and working through depression and anxiety symptoms to create art. Some artists are inspired by their struggle with mental health issues. While that’s not entirely false for me, I need to be in a good mental state to create something I feel good about. Recording the first EP stirred up a lot of intense anxiety and insecurities about myself as a musician and artist. I’m thankful to my bassist Drew Kellum (of the band d’Lakes) and Cody LeDuc (McNasty Brass Band, Black Market Brass), who produced the EP, for being patient with me through that process.

The other struggle, of course, has been the pandemic. I planned a release show for March 2020, and thankfully canceled it in time for folks to avoid getting sick. However, I didn’t have a chance to build my musical community before the pandemic. It’s been really tough rebuilding my confidence and connecting with folks after so many collective traumas. I’m hopeful that my “Better Late than Never” EP release party at Icehouse in Minneapolis on Saturday, June 18 will be a fresh start.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a musician, dancer, and aspiring sexual educator in the Twin Cities. As a musician, I play guitar, sing, and songwrite funky queer pop songs for my band KYM. I have a playful, honest approach to heartbreak, personal growth, and the experiences of navigating the world in a femme body. In addition to my six-track EP “Not 4 U,” I’ve released several dreamy music videos that center queer community.

I think something that sets me apart from others is that I navigate a lot of arts communities; I have a lot of hobbies. In addition to music, I’ve danced with various choreographers, produced a seasonal cabaret, and performed as my burlesque persona, Mona RydeHer. This April, my friend GG Delish and I launched “Burly Bluffs,” a burlesque production company focused on bringing sex-positive, safe queer spaces to Southeastern Minnesota. We had a really successful launching event that was part of the Midwest Music Festival in Winona, MN.

It’s not easy to do all of these things, but they’re in line with what feels good to me. Like many folks who forge their own path, I’ve felt tempted by (and sometimes given in to) feelings of shame – shame that my identity doesn’t align with a neat box, shame that I was interested in a different way of life, or shame that something I wanted to do somehow felt “bad.” The more I give into what feels good, exciting, and fun to me, the happier I am. So, I’m proud of that – for letting myself explore the life I want to live, for being curious.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
My creativity is the most important. And I’m not just talking about songwriting or choreographing. Creativity to me also means: I don’t have money to produce an EP, so how else can I record a debut project? Or it means: I want to add to this costume, what can I convert that’s already lying around the house? What can I do with all this extra fabric?

I try my best to measure my artistic success by whether or not I’m having a good time, and if I feel good about what I create. I find a lot of joy in using my creativity in various ways.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nathaniel Nelson of Treedome
The Burly Bluffs logo by Musette
“Bloom” music video photo by Joni Griffith

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