Gig Seeker Pro


Flint, MI | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | SELF

Flint, MI | SELF
Established on Jan, 2018
Band Alternative Indie




"Steppes | New singles from Michigan indie/alternative band"

Let me just start this post by stating how impressed I am with the tight, polished sound and well-written songs from emerging indie/alternative band Steppes. Hailing from mid-Michigan and formed in 2017, this three-piece outfit, consisting of Joshua Kemp (lead vocals, guitar), Caleb Doering (lead guitar), and Austin Holicki (drums), has released their first three singles during 2018. While still in their infancy, Steppes has shared stages with national acts that include Bad Bad Hats and Soccer Mommy, as well as local Michigan legends Michigander, Joe Hertler, and Mike Mains.

After just one listen to their music, there's clearly some chemistry and synergy within this band that enables them to produce such captivating. charged tracks with killer guitar riffs, soaring vocals and infectious melodies.

"Marceline the Vampire" is the band's most recent single. This high-energy rock anthem really showcases the band's ability to deliver killer hooks, tight melodies and ultra-catchy verses and chorus that will get you jamming and singing along. The song reminds me a lot of the fueled energy and passionate vocals of indie/electronic band Melody Club. The band's press release notes that the song is inspired, in part, by Pendleton Ward's creation, Adventure Time, and features the name and characteristics of Marceline, a vampire in a post-apocalyptic world with a love for music.

Accumulating over 125,000 plays on Spotify, the band's second single,"Rachel", has garnered significant radio success and inclusion on playlists. The stripped down intro to the track, with smooth, melodic vocals really makes this track stand out from the very beginning. The guitar riff, slight timing change and drum sequence do a killer job of transitioning to this song's powerful chorus.

Finally, we look back to January 2018 and the band's debut single, "Go (Starting Over)". The fingerstyle guitar solo perfectly complements Josh's heartfelt vocals, with this track gently building to its melodic chorus.

The band plans to continue releasing additional singles for the foreseeable future - new music that is definitely worth waiting for, based on the three impressive releases to date. Until then, you can keep up with news and upcoming performances from the band on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and find their music on Bandcamp, SoundCloud and Spotify. - Soundthread Music Blog

"Steppes: Finding Their Way"

Steppes began last year as a solo project of lead singer/guitarist Joshua Kemp and has since become a full-fledged indie rock/alternative group. Kemp was writing and playing shows as a singer, but knew he wanted to expand on the sound and work with other musicians. Drummer, Austin Holicki, and lead guitarist, Caleb Doering had played alongside Josh before, including with their church’s band, so Kemp asked them to fill in for those bigger shows. Their experience playing together made the transition easy, and the three clicked right away. “I remember asking the guys, ‘Hey, do you want to make this an actual band?’” says Doering. They did, and Steppes was formed.

Although the band officially transitioned from Kemp’s solo project to the Steppes moniker last fall, the band thinks of early of 2018 as the time when things became real. Steppes dropped their first song and video for “Go (Starting Over)” in January and began making a name for themselves. “Go” is as catchy and singable as anything you’ve ever heard in the indie/alternative scene. Fans of Young The Giant, Colony House, and Vampire Weekend will find characteristics they know and love in Steppes without feeling like they’re a cardboard cutout version of other artists. Doering’s lead guitar riff dances alongside Kemp’s vocal melody throughout the track, adding an extra flavor that brings everything together. Holicki’s drumming never falls into the ever-so-common trap of staleness, but instead fuses his own influences of hip-hop and funk to bring freshness to a genre that isn’t notorious for memorable drums. The chorus will inevitably find its way into your head and make itself at home. “I’m used to being down/I’m used to starting over” will replay over and over until you find yourself subconsciously humming along and drumming on your steering wheel. As a whole, Steppes is filled to the brim with fun and optimism while maintaining honesty in their lyrics.


While the band began working together early last year, they spent most of their time writing. “We wanted to hit the ground ready as a band and not have that awkward growing pains stage,” says Doering. The band’s first show as Steppes was last fall at Café Rhema in Downtown Flint, where they played an acoustic set. Even though the band spent a good chunk of the year writing new music, they’re also constantly working to perfect their craft and sound. “We don’t play any of the songs we played that first night,” says Kemp. “We’ve changed so much even in that short amount of time.” Now, the process is a collaboration between all band members, and with a little experience under their belt as a unit, they feel that they’ve discovered what Steppes is meant to sound like. “A lot of older demos were never released, thank God,” laughs Kemp.

Steppes played in March at the Flint Local 432, joined alongside Coopertheband (indie folk rock) from Nashville, as well as local artists Pinewinds and Walk It Out. The band was excited to finally get to plug in and play their songs the way there were imagined to sound. “We got a lot of good feedback and met a lot of new people,” says Kemp. The band finds that meeting and getting to know people at shows is an especially rewarding part of being musicians. “I think we have so many great artists and songwriters in the Flint scene,” he shares. “Michigan, as a whole, is incredibly impressive right now. I really like a lot of the local talent.” The band says they are excited to get plugged into the music scene and continue to grow, as well as support other artists. Kemp adds, “I’m eager to see what we can do to bring attention to Flint and the artists here.”

Steppes will play the Riverscene Indie Music Festival in Bay City this June. While the band plans to pick up a couple of shows in the meantime, their focus is on writing. Kemp says, “We’re still writing and playing a lot and learning a lot, so I don’t want to rush it just to get material out there. I want to be proud of everything we put out.” - My City Magazine


Local to Michigan, indie/alternative band Steppes has stepped onto the scene with lyrics that have a honest take on life while flooding your speakers with joyful melodies that will have you singing in your car.

The band consists of three members, Joshua Kemp (vocals/guitar), Caleb Doering (lead guitar) and Austin Holicki (Drums).

While still in their infancy Steppes has released three singles including “Go (Starting over)” and “Rachel”and their newest single that was released August 31st “Marceline the Vampire” which is a high-energy rock anthem staring Marceline. “She is inspired, in part, by Pendleton Ward’s creation ‘Adventure Time’, the new song from Steppes features the name and characteristics of Marceline, a vampire in a post-apocalyptic world with a love for music”, as stated by Steppes officials.

Steppes has shared stages with national acts that include Bad Bad Hats and Soccer Mommy, as well as local Michigan legends Michigander, Joe Hertler, and Mike Mains, according to their official release. The band’s second single ‘Rachel’ has found radio success across several stations in the U.S. and has accumulated over 125,000 plays on Spotify.

Behind the lyrics

Who is Rachel?
Josh: “I get asked this question a LOT. She’s not my girlfriend, in fact, she’s not really anyone. Rachel is all about figuring yourself out. I’m a big fan of coming-of-age stories like ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’, ‘Stand by me’, or even ‘Good Will Hunting’ (to some degree). To me, it’s such an interesting thing how the choices you make, the people you involve yourself with, and the way you respond to your situations end up shaping who you’ll be for the rest of your life. The song refers to those moments where you either choose to be something or are shaped, by your circumstances, into something different. (Neither one is necessarily bad by the way).”

Go (Starting Over)
Josh: “Go was the first song I wrote for the band. It’s a tribute to my experiences with the uncertain. I wrote it during my last semester of college. I was to graduate soon and I still had no idea what I wanted my life to look like (still figuring it out, to be honest). I remember feeling like the things I had spent so much time on weren’t going to make me happy. I felt stuck in a mundane routine. It’s still my favorite Steppes song to date. The chorus “I’m used to being down, I’m used to starting over” speaks to the comfort that is available in consistency, and the opportunity available in the midst of your failures.”

Q & A
Q: Where did you get your band name from and were there any others in the running?
It took us forever to name this thing. Most people think its an alternate spelling of “steps” but actually a “Steppe” is a geographical term for the large grasslands in Europe. It was a name Caleb suggested early on and it always stuck around.
There were a LOT of names in the running. Some of them were just funny; most of them were bad. We actually booked our very first show under the moniker “Capitol Bill” (a play on the schoolhouse rock short). We changed it to Steppes like 3 days after.
Q: How long have you all known each other and how did you meet?
Josh: Caleb and I went to high school together. He’s younger than I am so I didn’t see him as much, but I knew who he was. I met Austin through a church in Flint. We were both playing in the band together. He’s still the best drummer I’ve ever played with.
Austin: I’ve known the guys for probably 5 years now. I met both of them playing drums for a young adults event that happened every Sunday night in Flint.
Q: What inspired you to make music together?
Josh: For a long time I was writing and playing in other bands and I just really wanted to try doing my own thing for a while. So I started writing more singer/songwriter songs. I wasn’t on social media, I didn’t have any recordings, and I didn’t play a ton of shows. I got offered some really decent gigs that I knew would be well-attended so I asked Austin and Caleb if they’d be interested in helping me “beef up” my set-list. It went really well. I think there’s a chemistry from playing together so long and we all have similar musical inspirations so we decided to scrap the singer/songwriter stuff and write whatever we wanted. What we do now is much more collaborative.
Austin: This was mainly Josh’s doing. He had a solo gig lined up and asked me and Caleb help him out. After that, we played a couple more gigs together and things really jelled. The rest is history.
Caleb: We all had the same drive and want to be in a band and write music.
Q: What are/is the main theme behind your songs?
Josh: I want to write music that is fun, catchy, and memorable. They don’t always have to dig deep; I like writing those songs too, but I want to write something for every mood.
Austin: I always think of our music as bright, fun, and energetic.
Caleb: Teen angst.
Q: Where is your favorite venue that you’ve played so far?
Josh: MY favorite venue (so far) has got to be Hart Plaza‘s Pyramid Stage in Detroit. The thing is designed kind of like a small coliseum with a stage in the center and seating rising up in front of it. Caleb and Austin both prefer the Pike Room in Pontiac. Which is also a great spot.
Q: Dream venue?
Josh: My dream venue is definitely Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. I’ve never seen a more beautiful place.
Austin: I’ve always loved the atmosphere of live theater shows. Growing up in Michigan, I’ve always thought it would be the coolest thing ever to play a show at The Fillmore theater in Detroit.
Caleb: Also theFillmore.
Q: Song currently paused on your spotify or iphone?
Josh: ‘Autumn Love’ by Death Cab for Cutie.
Austin: ‘Bad Bad News’ by Leon Bridges
Caleb: ‘Someday’ by Two Door Cinema Club
Q: Prince or MJ?

Josh: Michael Jackson hands down. SO so so many good songs. There’s an MJ song for whatever mood you’re in.
Austin: Michael Jackson hands down! MJ was one of the best (if not the best) performers in music.
Caleb: Prince.
Q: Nsync or Backstreet?
Josh: Nysnc. Justin Timberlake is king.
Austin: Nsync. Without Nsync, we might never have had JT…
Caleb: Same.
Q: Show you are looking forward to seeing this year?
Josh: Some friends of mine are playing a show with Hippo Campus in October. Definitely excited to see that one.
Austin: Not sure. I’d like to see Lettuce if they ever come to town.
Q: For the guitarists, obviously. Do you have a dream guitar? Are you brand loyal or did you pick them based on appearances or just went by cost?
Josh: Yes! For a long time I’ve had my eye on a Gretsch White Falcon. I’ve never owned a hollow-body and I’ve always wanted one. It’s about $4,000. Maybe one day.
Austin: I play drums haha
Caleb: No, I haven’t made it yet. I choose a guitar based off of a lot of factors like play-ability, pickups, wood quality, build quality, overall tone… if it beats the criticisms I have for the guitar, it’s worth buying. That being said, I play one I built myself.
Q: Aside from music, what are your other hobbies?
Josh: I’ve got a lot of these (mostly nerd-culture stuff). I’m a big movie guy and (I’m kinda nerdy about videography specifically). I like to read; I’m going through the Harry Potter series for the first time and I’m always talking about it. Sometimes I go disc golfing haha.
Austin: I’m a pretty active person. I like to get outside and do things as much as I can. I like to run, kayak, disc golf, hunt, and go to the gym. I also enjoy working on my latte art and enter random competitions in the local coffee scene.
Caleb: Video games, reading, fixing up instruments.
Q: What song do you enjoy playing the most?
Josh: This is a tough one. I think there are parts in all our songs where we mesh well, but there’s something exciting about playing new songs for me. That being said I think Marceline the Vampire is probably my favorite. It’s usually the first song in our set and there’s just something energizing about it.
Austin: Rachel is probably my favorite song we play live. I love the energy that it brings and it is usually the last song of our set. We also have a song we’ve been working on titled “Pride”. I’ve really enjoyed playing this one also. It’s been evolving over time into something special.
Caleb: Mine is “pride”.
Last but not least, What has been your craziest onstage experience?
Josh: “We all agree the craziest on-stage experience happened at a festival we played in Detroit. A great friend of ours was filling in on lead guitar and broke a string first song. You’re supposed to pack a back-up guitar for stuff like that, but the fest had very strict rules about how many cars we were allowed to bring, so we only brought what would fit into my Jeep Compass haha. He had to, basically, re-learn how to play all the songs with the strings he had available. On the spot. Honestly, he did an amazing job and we could not have been happier with the way that show went.
Bonus Answer: Craziest OFF-stage experience was having our money stolen at a show.
It’s the only time I’ve had to call the police and fill out a report.”
Be sure to keep an eye on these guys. They are definitely one to watch!
You can check out all of Steppes music on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp
Be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter - Life's Sidebar

"Steppes - Marceline the Vampire"

With its catchy hooks and cinematic indie rock sound, Michigan-based band Steppes' latest single "Marceline the Vampire" will bite you and not let go. Love hurts sometimes and the fantastic vocals from frontman Joshua Kemp play this out perfectly over soaring guitar melodies. The song is inspired in part by a 1,000-year-old vampire queen and bass guitar/battle-axe player of the same name from the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. Marceline the Vampire is only their third song since their debut release earlier this year and we look forward to hearing more from them next year! - Solid Muse

"Give It a Spin: “Rachel” by Steppes"

Windows down, volume up! Michigan’s Steppes just dropped their newest song, “Rachel”. It starts with lone vocals and a distant guitar. Immediately, the falsettos catch my ear, and I’m hooked. It quickly evolves into an steady indie rock march with glistening guitars that meander into a punchy chorus, begging an audience singalong. Soaring guitars echo booming calls of “Rachel!”.

Like I said, volume up, and shout! - Midwest Action


Change Your Mind - SingleMarceline the Vampire - Single

Rachel - Single

Go (Starting Over) - Single



Steppes is a 3-piece Indie rock outfit from Mid-Michigan comprised of Joshua Kemp, Caleb Doering, and Austin Holicki. While in their infancy, Steppes has shared billing with national bands such as Bad Bad Hats and Soccer Mommy. In their home state of Michigan, the band has played numerous sold out shows alongside local legends Mike Maines and the Branches, Michigander, and Joe Hertler. Their past four singles have been featured on dozens of radio stations across the country and have amassed over 400K streams on spotify since their staggered releases last year. Steppes was also one of 10 Michigan bands selected to play the Michigan House showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas this past year.

Band Members