Stella Ruze is…
Brendan Johnson (Lead Vocals/Guitar)
Katie O’Donnell (Lead Vocals, Mandolin, Percussion)
Mason Wallack (Keyboard, Vocals)
Alex Styer (Trumpet, Percussion, Vocals)
Sean McIntyre (Drums)
Ted Mayo (Bass)
Vince Gleason/Charlie DiPuma (Saxophone)
About The Band
Stella Ruze emerged out of Manayunk (Philadelphia) back in 2014. Bandleader, Brendan Johnson, was a regular musician of the dive bar music scene. He eventually connected with co-vocalist, Katie Burke, through a mutual friend. Soon after, the duo was introduced to keyboardist Mason Wallack and trumpet player, Alex Styer. They took on the name “Stella Ruze” as a way to embody Johnson’s underlying song themes of love lost/love found while paying homage to Styer’s New Orleans horn style, Burke’s vocal harmonies, and melodic piano hooks from Wallack.
To date, Stella Ruze has two studio releases. In June 2016, the band released their So Here LP that featured 8 songs written by Johnson and performed by the band during their first shows. The band returned to the studio in early 2017 to record a five-song, self-titled EP. The band received assistance from renowned sound engineer & drummer Matt Muir, and Johnson worked closely with Philly music legend Ben Arnold for creative direction.
About The EP
The band’s self-titled EP is a collection of songs that unifies the features of rock, folk and pop music. Their sophomore studio effort finds them continuously pushing musical boundaries and exploring new sonic territory while remaining true to their signature sound.
The band made a conscious effort to realize this latest collection of songs as a fully produced album. Working with Matt Muir at both Retro City Studios and Kawari Sound, the band utilized the unique qualities of each space to create a full sound that was absent in previous releases. The addition of tenor saxophone, bass guitar and drum kit helps to further complement the electrified sound from Johnson’s guitar.
Driving rhythms and tight harmonies prevail on songs like “Bye Bye Bird” and “Let’s Go In This Way,” which meld closely with the band’s previous releases. But Johnson’s lyrics take a more introspective turn in “Dawdle” and “Bide the Time.” The album closes with Katie Burke’s debut on lead vocals for the electro-reggae-rock “BTW.”
Stella Ruze performed a SOLD-OUT release show on Friday, October 6th, 2017 at Milkboy Philadelphia with co-headliner Josiah Johnson from The Head and The Heart.
By Anna Orso, Billy Penn
“Who’s Next Because: Stella Ruze has years of experience performing gigs in bars and parties across Philadelphia while lead vocalist Brendan Johnson sings and trumpet calls linger. Their performances are highlighted by steady guitar grooves and fiery interplay between trumpet and keyboard, and choruses bring the entire band together in four-part harmonies.”
By Joseph Bloss, The Key
“But the band is able to fulfill that self-supplied label with the genre-crossing sound it prides itself so heavily on. Folky vibes line the vocal harmonies of Brendan Johnson and Katie Burke and their string work on mandolin and guitar. The Lumineers tag is prevalent in songs like “Chivalry” and “Windows,” while the similarities to Trombone Shorty are more obviously heard in brass numbers like “Somebody Told Me.” And with keyboard work from Mason Wallack, the sound is completed to occupy something at the intersection of folk, jazz, and pop.”