Music » Local Beat

Pittsburgh’s Secret House Sessions breathe new life into a forgotten home

“There are so many women in Pittsburgh who are quiet about being really good musicians.”

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In an abandoned house in Braddock, there is a room with incredible natural reverb. The sunlight drifts into the upstairs room that most likely once served as a bedroom, but now the paint on the doors is cracked and peeling. It feels familiar and full of life for being an empty house on a quiet road.

But it’s not exactly empty — this is where the Secret House Sessions have found a home.

The Secret House Sessions are a video series of stripped-down performances from musicians who fill the room with their music. Guests so far have included Petal, the Afterglows, Try the Pie, All Dogs, and Girlpool. Filming with one camera in a single take, the shoot captures an intimate moment in time, as if you’re in the room sitting on the floor watching someone perform just for you.

Cassie Staub and Katie Krulock are the best friends and co-conspirators behind the sessions. Staub, who discovered the location, brings the musicians in to perform, and Krulock films and edits the footage captured at the Secret House.

“Originally we were imagining more elaborate shoots with multiple cameras and different angles, but we keep coming back to wanting it simple,” explains Krulock.

Most videos are filmed in the morning or afternoon, so the sunlight does all the work of a light kit. Green Dreams’ nighttime session was lit by an abundance of tea candles. The natural lighting gives each video a warm feeling, but the lack of electricity is largely non-negotiable.

“But we like it that way,” Staub says. “It makes the performances as simple and intimate as possible.”

Moving forward, Krulock and Staub hope to make the series more focused on local musicians, especially Pittsburgh’s large pool of talented female artists.

“There are so many women in Pittsburgh who are quiet about being really good musicians,” says Krulock. “We want to showcase them. This is an all-inclusive project.”

Videos are available at www.secrethousesessions.com.

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