E.C. Beats

Exploring the sound of local artists. This week: Sniffle Party


Photo by Faith Hultman

Sniffle Party, an electro-pop duo based in Eau Claire, is comprised of a couple who met through working together at VolumeOne. Since the start of their relationship, the two decided to produce music together and have created their own distinct stage presence.

Waking up on a Tuesday morning with a notification from Twitter saying actress Chloe Grace Moretz mentioned one of their songs as having “stranger things vibes” (referring to the Netflix series “Stranger Things”) left the two members of Sniffle Party speechless.

“It feels really weird,” said Serena Wagner, the lead vocalist for the duo. “You are from a small town, you live in a small town, and getting a shoutout like that is sort of surreal.”

Two 26-year-old UW-Eau Claire alumni, Eric Christenson and Wagner, are the couple who make up the Eau Claire-based electro-pop group Sniffle Party.

The name “Sniffle Party” originated from a playful nickname Christenson gave Wagner due to a minor head cold she had one day at  work. That incident sparked a romantic and musical relationship between the two that Wagner said she didn’t see coming.

Although they had a mutual group of friends in college, Wagner said she and Christenson didn’t cross paths until she started working at VolumeOne. At the time she was hired as a graphic designer, Christenson had just taken over the managing editor position for the magazine and the two got to know each other through their work together.

The up-and-coming musical duo has only been collaborating for a little over a year, but they already released their first EP in April 2016 and a single last February. They are looking to spread their music to a wider audience through a tour.

“When we started it, never did we think that we would be at a point where we are thinking about actually going on tour and actually doing things seriously,” Wagner said. “We are thinking about how we can relate to the people who listen to our music and connect with those people.”

Sheikh Jammeh, known as the Blvck Spirit in the music community, is a fifth-year senior creative writing student at Eau Claire and has known the members of Sniffle Party for about three years.

The three musicians met through a mutual friend, Jammeh said, and they all connected  through their shared passion for music.

Jammeh said he enjoys seeing their sense of creating community come through not only in their music, but also in their everyday lives.

“What they both bring to the table and what they both bring to the community is the spirit of fostering a space for people to come and express themselves artistically,” Jammeh said.

First playing at house shows and small venues, Sniffle Party has played at a variety of larger stages in the area and, in conjunction, has developed their distinct stage presence.

“Now that we have been performing for over a year, it is a very synonymous experience,” Wagner said. “We kind of go off of each other.”

When preparing for a show, Wagner said the two select songs from their list of works they most enjoy and perform well; as they make more music, their musical stockpile of performance possibilities will continue to grow.

Wagner said because each of the venues they perform at is different, they also consider what they think the audience will be like and the vibe of the venue when creating a show’s set list. On stage with them is Christenson’s keyboard and laptop, which play his live synths and the beat  to which Wagner sings.

Curating the music itself is also an act of reciprocity within their intimate relationship. It is an interplay of both Christenson and Wagner contributing their ideas and working off of one another.

“It is very fluid,” Wagner said. “It is a different experience collaborating with someone you are also intimate with. It is really give -and-take.”

In the beginning, coming up with the lyrics was the hardest part for Wagner. She said synthesizing her thoughts into words that impact listeners became her goal, and she now draws some of her inspiration from her beliefs as a feminist.

“I didn’t want Sniffle Party to be another ‘girl pop duo.’ I wanted the lyrics to have some sort of backing and a really solid meaning,” Wagner said. “I would like to think that some of these messages and words that I am saying have more meaning, so I give it even more thought than I should.”

Jammeh said being with them since the start of it all and seeing where they are now makes him happy they are reaching a wide fan base in their own way.

“It is really refreshing to see people react to Sniffle Party and their music,” Jammah said. “And I feel like who they are, their personas, are very much a part of that.”

Getting support from not only each other, but also the Eau Claire community, Wagner said, has made their transition into the music scene easier and more welcoming.

Sniffle Party’s music is available on SoundCloud, Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify.