Field Notes & Fixations: Trap Kit

By Thomas Hentges // Image by Loni LaRive

Andrew Jandt is a Huron born, Rapid City raised singer/songwriter who performs his take on indie-folk under the moniker, Trap Kit. After spending a handful of years living in Los Angeles, Andrew has returned to his home in Rapid City and is among those passionate to re-construct a living and thriving music scene in the Black Hills area. I recently got the opportunity to talk to Andrew about songwriting, the Black Hills music scene and his recent trip to New York City.

TH: How would you describe the current Black Hills music community, specifically the Rapid City scene?

AJ: When I moved back from Los Angeles, this town (Rapid City) seemed asleep…maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right direction. There were only a few places that hosted live music at the time. But in the last few years, something seems to be stirring. Open mics have been popping up, new venues have opened and new groups have been forming. Rapid City is at a tipping point concerning a music scene development. The town and surrounding areas are thriving and there is something electric in the air. Amongst the musical community there is talk of a new venue opening, and the musicians are out there showing their support for one another every week. Venues such as The Garage, Black Hills Vinyl and The Dahl are hosting great shows and are well on their way to solidifying the Rapid City music scene.

TH: You left Rapid City for the west coast years ago. What brought you back home to South Dakota?

AJ: I spent many years living in LA and playing shows out there. When I wasn’t playing shows, I was attending them at whatever venues I could find. Along the way, I met some tremendous people that have served as mentors to me in my own musical endeavors. I ended up walking away with three key insights from the experience in LA. First, your only limitation is yourself, so dream big. Second, you don’t have to live in LA or NYC to “make it” any longer. With the advent of technology, you can reach the entire world from just about anywhere. Third and maybe most important, I learned that South Dakota needs to be on the music map.

TH: What song have you written that has changed your perception of your own music?

AJ: I wrote a song called “City By the Last Light”. It is about elements of searching for one’s meaning and the fact that being home may be a purpose in itself. I played that song enough that eventually it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I packed up my guitars and moved home with a dream to be the voice of the Northern Plains.

TH: What can you tell us about your recent jaunt out to New York City?

AJ: Recently, I went to NYC to participate in the first ever Song a Week Showcase that featured artists from around the world who had written, recorded and submitted songs throughout the year. Artists collaborated, provided feedback and inspired each other for an entire year. Two other South Dakota artists, Heath Johnson and Anna Robinson, also participated in the challenge. One of my songs, “Summer Swimmin’”, was picked as a featured song towards the end of the year.  I felt so inspired, I decided to travel all the way to NYC to play that song at the legendary Red Lion. I expected a long trip and some fun. What I didn’t expect was the active listening, appreciation for original music and roar of the NYC crowd on that fateful Saturday night. I also didn’t expect another opportunity to play at Pianos on Ludlow. There I got to play the last two songs of the night and was lucky enough to have this captured on video to remember forever.

TH: What keeps you busy when you’re not writing and performing?

AJ: I participate in the South Dakota Songwriters group, hosting meetings and developing other artists. I love to paint. I also shoot music films for a statewide video showcase called sodak.tv that highlights local and national artists with the state as a background.

For more info on Trap Kit visit:

www.facebook.com/trapkitmusic