Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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If you’ve been Downtown or to one of the countless breweries around Albuquerque, there is a good chance that you’ve heard the duo Walker Kass performing. Walker Kass, composed of Riley Walker (bass/vocals) and Miriam Kass (guitar/vocals), has been everywhere since live shows returned to the city and have quickly established itself as one of the city’s must-see musical acts.

The duo boasts striking harmonious vocals that ooze folk, country and Americana. “We found our sound through a collective of different backgrounds. We both have similar but different backgrounds. We like a ton of different music. And when you take two voices and make them one, it forms a new kind of voice. I’m really into the soul kind of stuff. Miriam is really into folk. Joining the two, I think we found our sweet spot in country, which is kind of funny,” bassist and vocalist Walker said in an interview with The Paper.

Kass (left), Walker (right)

The duo officially formed in November 2019, after meeting through a mutual friend. Within a few months of the band’s forming, the pandemic put an end to live shows for over a year. Despite an end to live performances, the two artists used this time to explore the sound and themes that are elemental to their songs.

Their recent single and the title track of their brand new album, “Good Riddance,” meditates and explores themes of grief, loss and growth through a deeply Americana sound. “That one was inspired by a toxic relationship and coming out of it and being grateful for an experience that leads you to feeling more powerful, even through hardship,” Walker said.

The duo attributes much of the sound on the album to their producer, Edgar Wonder. “He’s such an absolutely incredible musician that if you strip the vocals away and just listen to the instrumental of the track, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s intriguing. There’s so much going on,” Walker said. If their title track “Good Riddance” is any indication of how the rest of the album will be, the duo’s voice paired with Wonder’s production is a match made in heaven and an exciting project coming out of Albuquerque. 

When asked about the process and how the duo arrived at their sound, Kass noted that “The focus, more than anything, is music translated through emotional processing and experience. Being an active vehicle in the physical realm and transmuting that through music. I think the emotional body and bringing people into their feeling through personal deep emotional experience and those themes reveal themselves.” Walker added that, “I think the genre of country and folk music has so much soul and storytelling in it that it’s comfortable for both of us. To join a voice is to create a new one.” 

Walker Kass’ rise can also be attributed to their deep love for the city’s creative community and the love and support that they receive in return. “Albuquerque has this sense of community and authentic support,” Walker noted before adding, “People here in Albuquerque really do that and show up to do that.”

The duo also hopes that their success and image will serve as an example for other female artists. “I see us as instrumental parts of showing women in the music scene that you can do it. That you can be full-blown rockstars, and you can do it with another lady by your side. Standing strong with other women in the music scene, because that is so difficult to do in the music,” Walker said. “Even just bringing that soundscape in. Reintroducing harmony as something that should be heard,” Kass added.

Walker Kass will be playing at two shows this weekend. The first one will be at High and Dry on Saturday. The second show will be a benefit concert at Launchpad for a pair of local musicians who recently lost all their equipment in a house fire. The show will also feature Doug and the Dying, Low Mellow, and Jimmy Climbs. Doors open at 7pm at the Launchpad. 

To stay up to date with Walker Kass’ shows and projects, follow them on either Instagram or Spotify