April Letter

You may have wondered “Who’s that guy in Steph’s band? What’s his deal? Where did he come from?”

My name is Justin Birchard and I am that guy! My deal is that I love music, and I’m coming at you from Berwyn, Illinois (about 10 minutes West of downtown Chicago).

Now that Steph and I have been an official band for a few months, I figured it was a good time to introduce myself and talk about my role as a Plutopian.

I’ve been writing, recording, and performing with bands ever since I was a teenager back in the mid 90’s. Currently I play with three bands: Facing Winter, Invisible Cartoons, and of course Steph Yeager and the Plutopians. I also run a small record label called Seven Sided Records.

Steph and I have been friends for over ten years and we first started working on music together back in 2012 when I assisted with writing and recording her first album Campfire Sessions. We had a great time creating that album together, so I was very excited when Steph came to me with plans to record a follow-up album.

When we first started recording Steph’s newest songs we intended for them to be released as part of another Steph Yeager solo album. But as things progressed we realized there was potential for these new songs to be bigger, fuller, and more complex than we originally imagined. We were having a ton of fun writing and recording together so we figured “What the heck? We should be a band.”

And so here we are!

Part of what I love about the Plutopians is that it gives me an opportunity to write and play instruments that I don’t normally get to use in my other bands. In Facing Winter and Invisible Cartoons I primarily play guitar and sing, but in the Plutopians I get to play drums, bass, banjo, keys, mandolin, glockenspiel, and more. It’s been a thrilling challenge being able to work with instruments that are outside of my comfort zone. It’s hard work, but I’ve loved every minute of it and feel deeply proud of the songs we have been creating.

To give you an idea of how our process has worked, I’ll describe how we recorded one of our newest tracks Be Love. First, Steph recorded her vocals and an acoustic guitar at my studio in Illinois, then several months later I began adding instrumentation. The reason it took so long to begin writing/recording the additional parts is that there were other songs we wanted to release first. We were heavily focused on finishing our singles Anchor Town, Travelin Towards A Dream, and Wild, so we weren’t able to work toward finishing Be Love until all of those songs had already been released. At this point Steph had long-since returned to Montana, and there weren’t going to be opportunities for us to rehearse and write together in the same room. Living hundreds of miles apart has its challenges, but it has also opened up unique creative opportunities.

For Be Love I decided it would be best to start by adding drumset. So everyday after work I would head to my studio and play drums along to Steph’s previously recorded vocal and acoustic guitar tracks. After many hours of sweaty solo rehearsals and late-night recording sessions, I finally captured the beats I was hearing in my head. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but it took me more than 50 takes to finally get it right! The drum part is not exceptionally complex, but given my modest experience as a drummer, I had to work extra hard to be able to pull it off.

Usually after the drums are finished I begin writing bass. I listen carefully to how the kick and snare are interacting with Steph’s voice and I try to use the bass to enhance the existing groove and accentuate Steph’s melodies. After the drums and bass were complete for Be Love, Steph and I were able to better visualize the song as a whole. We evaluated what we’d tracked so far and realized that there was an opportunity for some electric guitars, glockenspiel, and backup vocals.

It’s tricky, but our goal is to make it sound as if all of the parts were written and recorded in the same room at the same time. In reality, most of the instruments were written at different times in different rooms across multiple different cities (I’ve moved twice already since we first started recording!).

After tinkering around with various other ideas, Steph and I felt confident that all the pieces were in place for Be Love, so I began mixing. A few weeks later the song was completely done and you can hear it now on our our brand new EP Rise!

EP art by Reva Fullofit

Another thing I love about being a Plutopian is that (as I’m sure you’re aware) Steph is a wildly talented and prolific songwriter. Her voice is a shimmering example of passion and authenticity. Not only that, but she’s a damn hard worker with a deep and generous heart. As someone who has been working in the music scene for a long time I can confidently say that Steph’s combination of talent and dedication is EXTREMELY rare. It’s an amazing opportunity and a true honor for me to be able to be in this band with her.

In 2019 Steph and I plan to release an EP at the start of each season. We released Rise on the first day of Spring and the next EP will release on June 21st, the first day of Summer.

One thing you may not know about us- we are nearly 100% DIY. We record and mix our own music. We design and personally manufacture our cds, packaging, posters, and stickers. We book all of our shows, and we built our website. For anything that we can’t accomplish ourselves, we hire local, independent artists (like the wonderfully talented Reva Fullofit who created our Single and EP artwork by hand).

More custom art from Reva Fullofit

Being able to accomplish all of this with only two people means that we can really make the most of every dollar. But there’s no way we would be able to reach our goals without the support of our friends, family, and fans (we’re talking about YOU)!

If you like what we’re doing and want to help us continue, you can become a Patron by pledging at patreon.com/plutopians. Even pledging $1 per month goes a long way and would mean an incredible amount to us.

We love you. Thank you for being part of what we’re doing.



February Letter

Hello all. I hope the new year has been treating you well and that you are all staying warm out there! As I’m sitting here, SW Montana has received about two feet of snow in the past 48 hours. This February has also been one of the coldest on record in a couple of decades. I saw people today cross country skiing in the middle of the street, and people all decked out in muck boots and parkas smiling while walking from the grocery store back to their houses through the snow. Such silver lining determination and grit is quite impressive to say the least. I however am not feeling nearly as spritely. I’m in full on hibernation mode with my heated blanket and fuzzy socks in toe, Ray Charles on the record player. What can I say, escaping from the cold has its silver lining as well.

It’s been a minute since I’ve checked in, and I wanted to touch base with all of you about what’s happening with The Plutopians. The past couple of months, we have been working on new songs, released a couple of new singles, and have been having a whole lot of fun creating and performing! Our project, “Big Sky Redemption” has been a long time coming and its growing and evolving all of the time.

We do have some fun and exciting things in the works! Our original concept of releasing an epic 15 song LP, has now evolved into us releasing four EP’s all throughout the year. This means more steady material for you, and a lot more wiggle room for us to be creative in new ways. We will release one EP for each season, the Spring edition to be released in a few weeks on March 20th (the spring equinox). We absolutely cannot wait to share all of these tunes with you.

I spy two purple Plutopians!
Man of many talents….
Workin’ his magic!

November Letter

Hello all!

Happy Holidaze. I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving (if you’re into that) and even if you’re not…I hope you at least ate some really good food and took a couple of good naps.  I know I said that Justin would be writing this month’s blog, but he is busy chipping away at a brand new EP for his other band Invisible Cartoons….so, I guess you’re stuck with me again!

I wanted to update everyone on some things that we have going on and in the works for the next few weeks. We will be releasing our 3rd and final single “Anchor Town” for Big Sky Redemption on 12/31! I cannot wait for everyone to hear it. It’s always so hard sitting on my hands until all of the pieces are put into place, but I do feel it will be totally worth the wait! After that, we will be releasing the whole thing towards the beginning of next year. So hang in there with us!

We also are working on getting some merch set up for everyone and getting our store up and running and are updating our YouTube channel with fresh content, etc. So, It’s all happening….steady as she goes. If you have not signed up for our newsletter or subscribed to our YouTube channel yet, please do so. It’s one of the best ways to support us and to keep up with us.

I hope that you are all staying warm this winter (I don’t care if it’s technically fall. November is winter) and that you are finding something in your heart to be thankful for. Right now, in this moment….I am thankful for my tom cat who is warming my feet. And for heat. And for a roof over my head. And for AWD. And for peanut butter, that shit’s amazing. I’m thankful for record players. And for friends who are my chosen family. And for the mountains. And for community. And for YOU.


Peace & Love,



October Letter

Hello you!

Steph here. It’s a beautiful fall evening here in Montana. The leaves have all turned various shades of gold and red and the full moon has just begun to rise high in the sky, peaking above the mountains. As the charged and busy summer begins to simmer down, I find myself reflecting on the year thus far. My heart is truly filled with gratitude as I reflect upon the many kindnesses, adventures, and moments of connection that I have known. I wanted to take a moment to simply thank those of you who have been supportive of our art. Whether it’s going to shows, lending your talents, buying our music, sharing feedback and/or encouragement, or sharing it with your friends and family. Every bit of support, no matter how “small”, means a lot to me and Justin.

As independent musicians in today’s times, it seems that we are constantly steaming ahead and thinking of the next thing…forgetting to take the time to reflect on what has been thus far. So, THANK YOU. I am so very proud of the two singles that we have released, and I am very excited for the many things in the works! (Various stages of gestation). We have our third and final single “Anchor Town” due to be out sometime at the beginning of December and then the whole stinking thing comes out at the beginning of next year! Woah! Music is the joy and truth of my life and watching this evolve and blossom is truly WHERE IT’S AT!

Big Sky Redemption started as a spark, which turned into a song, which turned into five songs, which turned into fifteen songs. It started as a simple recording, which turned into a collaboration, which turned into a band. It started with me banging on my guitar and pouring out my heart, which turned into dozens of live shows, which turned into your playing it in your speakers. It is about seeking, dreaming, wandering, and jumping into the unknown. It is about authenticity, and healing, and redemption. It is about peeling the layers back, owning your story, and stepping into your own vulnerability and strength. There is a lot of LOVE in this record. There is a lot of LIGHT in this record. There is pain in this record. There is play in this record. Processing in this record. Coming around full circle in this record. It is a delicious piece of juicy fruit waiting to be bit into. So, TAKE A BITE if you will, my friends.

We are always open and curious to hear any questions or feedback that you may have. What’s your favorite song so far? Any places you would like for us to come and play? Any thing you’d like to see in video? Feel free to engage and comment below…and stay tuned for our blog letter next month from the infallible Justin Birchard.

Peace and Love,


The Plutopians Have Landed! (New Name)

You will notice a name change on all media going forward. The Plutopians have landed! It’s time to make it official that I’m now in a band with the talented, good soul, man-of-many-hats wiz, mister Justin Birchard. Hence forth we shall be Steph Yeager and the Plutopians!

Justin has been a long-time friend of mine, he helped record and mix my last album Campfire Sessions, and has been working with me diligently on the current record. Justin also runs our label Seven Sided Records. I’m very excited to see how all of this will progress and I feel super lucky! I realize there are some of you that may be confused, as we’ve been working mostly behind the scenes and have a pretty unique band dynamic. How all of this came about requires a story:

Justin and I started this project under the assumption that he’d record a bunch of songs that I wrote and assist me in creating Big Sky Redemption. We decided he’d take on a producer type of role, writing a few parts to add color, and helping me record and execute the songs in the studio.

As this process evolved, Justin became more and more involved. He masterfully wrote and arranged most of the other parts (not to mention recording, mixing, and mastering). Over the winter, I realized it would be totally wrong to release this as MY record, considering all of the work, time, and artistic flare that he has contributed (seriously ya’ll… it really is amazing). Since we had both started to feel like we were a band, we figured let’s just be one! So here we are.

Justin lives just outside of Chicago. I live in Montana. The writing, recording, mixing, and execution of this is the culmination of a lot of work, thought, heart, and time across the span of thousands of miles. It was accomplished in a unique way through various mediums– phone calls, emails, voice notes, file transfers, and cross country visits. But cheesy as it may sound, music knows no true distance. And if there is a moral to this story, I suppose that would be it. I am proud to be a Plutopian and you will be hearing and seeing much more from this duo in the coming months.

Want to hear something right now? You’re in luck! We are proud to announce that the first single, Traveling Towards A Dream is DONE!!

It will be available for download and streaming everywhere within the next few weeks. OR, because we love you… you can download an exclusive FREE copy of the first single right now before everybody else by clicking here and signing up for our newsletter!  After you signup you’ll receive an email with a link where you can download the song for free.

Thank you so very much for the support from the bottom of our hearts.

Plutopians, out.