From the outside looking in, the house at 1326 MacArthur Rd. seems to be nothing more than a residence — but on the inside there’s a celebration of righteous music.
Kiki Schueler’s house, also known as Kiki’s House of Righteous Music, is an underground music venue representing Madison’s eclectic DIY concert scene. The Badger Herald sat down with Schueler to talk about what goes down at her place — and why it’s often the venue of choice for bands returning to Madison.
The following interview was edited for style and clarity.
The Badger Herald: What inspired you to start doing Kiki’s House of Righteous Music?
Kiki Schueler: If I won the lottery, I said I’d open a club. I love music, and we want to host bands we love. I actually had that name, and when I started doing shows in my basement, it made sense to just call it that. It’s just a way to give my favorite bands a place to play.
BH: What’s the usual process for having a band perform at your place?
KS: Sometimes they’re bands that I already know. Sometimes it’s word of mouth. A band that’s already played at my house will tell someone else they should come play. And if it’s somebody I’m interested in, then absolutely I’m going to book them. And sometimes it’s just a booking agent that I’ve worked with before, and they bring another one of their bands to me.
BH: What do you think you offer as a venue that keeps bands coming back and other bands interested?
KS: Everybody who comes to the show is there for the show. There’s no reason you would be there otherwise. Everybody is there to hear music. They treat it like that, and it’s always a very respectful crowd. They listen instead of hanging out with their friends and talking. It’s just a better experience for the band in general because people are there to see them.
BH: Have you noticed that regardless of the genre, it’s kind of the same close-knit atmosphere where people are there for the music?
KS: Absolutely. Everybody always [says] it’s very brave of me to let all these people into my house that I don’t know — because a lot of the time I don’t know the people that are coming to the show. There are a few regulars, but more often it’s fans of the bands and not just fans of, you know, my house.
BH: How does Kiki’s House of Righteous Music benefit the artist specifically? I remember I saw something about it, where there’s an emphasis on helping out the artist in any way you can. Can you elaborate on that?
KS: All the bands, or most of them, stay at my house. I usually make dinner, give them beer and soda, whatever they want to drink. They don’t lose any money by coming to Madison. All the money that is collected, there’s a suggested donation — all of it goes to the band. That makes sure that I’m doing it because I like the band. I don’t make any money, it all goes to them.
BH: As a “do it yourself” venue, have you faced any obstacles in your years doing it?
KS: The only hard part is getting people to come see bands they haven’t heard of. I would like to think that at this point, people would just trust me. But if it’s an unknown band, I have a hard time getting people to come out.
BH: What are some of your personal highlights as a “do it yourself” organizer?
KS: Just the fact that so many people want to come back. A lot of bands, the first time they play there, they’re like “Well, this is the only place we’re going to play in Madison from now on.” That makes me feel pretty good, because I think I’ve created an environment where they want to be.