There’s more than a little Prince to what Static Panic does.
The six synthy tracks that make up the group’s 2018 debut EP, Chrome, meld funk and soul and R&B with addictive danceability, and bear names—“Fluid Funky Butter Sweet,” “The Crazy Thing”—that could’ve titled Lovesexy B-sides. Members Ro Lorenzen (vocals and production), Keston Wright (guitar and vocals), and Eli Kapell (drums) are all born-and-bred Minnesotans. Lorenzen’s lusty falsetto lurches over ’80s pop choruses; Wright’s soaring solos sound at times as though they’ve exploded from a certain glyph-shaped guitar.
Odd, then, that in a city so enamored with the Purple One, the trio spent years feeling that they didn’t fit in. They were combining too many styles, trying too many things, not punk-rock or pure-pop enough. “For a long time, I was worried about being too stand-out in the Minneapolis scene when it comes to our work,” Lorenzen says. “And I think, honestly, I didn’t really see the stand-out-ish-ness as a benefit.”
To be clear: It is, absolutely, to their benefit. And ours. The groove underlying these sensual anthems of sex-positivity and self-discovery begs the body to translate it into physical motion, to get up and dance (or at least tap a polite Minnesotan toe on the bus). Chrome is relatable in every possible sense—Lorenzen, who is genderfluid, doesn’t use gendered pronouns throughout the EP, so the listener can apply this music to whatever masculine, feminine, or anywhere-in-that-spectrum relationship feels right.
Soon, these songs could be made physical in a very intentional way: Lorenzen wants to work with local choreographers in New Black City to introduce a dance component. “I think one thing that has been really big for us is not only putting on a show, but also sharing an experience and making it very visceral, having that visual element of something you don’t see a lot when you go to see a show or a band,” Lorenzen says. “We want people to say, not have you heard Static Panic, but have you seen Static Panic.”
Static Panic have since come to view their differences as a good thing, and, especially following a pivotal performance at queer dance night Daddy earlier this year, so has a community they once felt apart from. Just this past week, they’ve opened for Twin Shadow and appeared alongside the Hold Steady at SurlyFest. They’re working toward another EP, and this one will have live drums and horns. Lorenzen queues up a track-in-progress, tentatively titled “SMS,” and slides their phone across the table.
The harmonies shouldn’t make sense—too angular for R&B, not pop enough—and the chord progression isn’t what you’d intuit. It’s a song, in some ways, about fucking up, texting someone you shouldn’t, being “back on your bullshit,” Lorenzen laughs.
But you’ll definitely want to dance to it.