For the Oshkosh-based indie duo Auralai, classical training and musical instinct strike a balance. As cellist Stephanie Tschech may say she's "bound by music theory," her background makes for thoughtful arrangements that multi-instrumentalist Nate Lehner fills out with melody.
Tschech pokes fun at her musical upbringing, but ultimately sees it as a strength and hopes to inspire a younger audience that may also be in school bands. "I think it's good for them to see at that time, 'Oh, that's a really versatile instrument. I could play that and do what she's doing in ten years, or five years,'" she says.
"Her writing style is really unique," bandmate Nate Lehner says. "We'll be changing time signatures in the middle of the song, or adding an extra measure. When we were recording the last album, our drummer Namiah would be charting stuff out and then all of a sudden be like 'What was that?'"
The music constructed by Tschech and Lehner is complex and eclectic. Delicate, classically-inspired cello tracks meld smoothly with confident vocals and an array of auxiliary sounds to create a melody that bears no firm allegiance to a particular genre, but rather passes fluidly through an assemblage of influences.
"It's great to be able to go from some stuff that's rockin' to then some swooning string parts and more of a classical sound," said Lehner. "It's fun to be able to straddle that line."
Tschech says one of the other upsides has been their ability to reach a very specific demographic - teenage cello players. "We kind of started a little fan base of, like teenage fan girls wherever we play," she says. "And I love that because those are the kids that are in orchestras and symphonies and I think it's good for them to see - oh, that's a really versatile instrument."
Given the elaborate nature of Auralai's music, it's perhaps most impressive that Tschech has never written a single thing down. "I've played with a lot of people and have gone to the songwriting conventions and to the seminars," notes Lehner. "I've never met anyone like Stephanie who has never written a single word down of her lyrics, never a single note down, never a single musical chart for any of her songs ever."