Local artist spotlight: Squeeze and Thanks

Thomas Tedesco, Culture Editor

Going around various places in town, you may have seen a weird looking sticker plastered on the wall with a red accordion and a strange phrase; “Squeeze and Thanks”.

The accordion is often seen as an antique, since the instrument itself has hardly been relevant in American popular music since at least the 1960s.

However, the man behind the stickers is creating a crossover between the accordion and pop music.

Under the moniker Squeeze and Thanks, Cinematographer and skateboarder turned musician Denny Kremblas creates music videos where he performs accordion instrumentals covering modern pop songs by artists such as Maroon 5 and Ariana Grande.

“Doing something that is truly like your own thing is what I’m inspired by even though I am a cover artist,” Kremblas said.

The name itself is a play on words between the common phrase “please and thanks” and how one plays the accordion.

“It had a positive feel to it, where it can almost stand alone and when someone hears it, they think of the accordion,” he said.

Starting in 2018, Kremblas began posting videos to YouTube and distributed merchandise, including the stickers, to build his brand. This led to performances at Cobblestone and the Music is Art Festival in Buffalo.

“When you see a younger person playing the accordion, it’s really cool,” said Tom Sieracki, an aspiring musician and accordionist from Buffalo. “He presents himself and the instrument really well.”

Kremblas said one of his most ambitious projects was a music video remake of the song “Happier”, originally by American DJ, Marshmello, which he also used to express his Bipolar disorder.

“We made the video in spite of mental health awareness month to just kind of shine a little bit of light on my story,” he said.

Kremblas cites rapper Post Malone as his biggest influence for filming accordion covers. His recreations of the Post Malone music videos: “White Iverson”, “Sunflower” and “Psycho” were among the first he ever made when he started his YouTube channel in 2018.

“When I finished making the videos I was like, ‘Oh my God. I don’t want to do anything else,’ I could do this the rest of my life,” Kremblas said.

Kremblas nearly had an opportunity to meet and potentially perform with Post Malone when he came to Buffalo in October 2019.

In a video on the Squeeze and Thanks Instagram page, Kremblas expressed his desire to play with Post Malone on stage at his Buffalo concert, which prompted several users who saw the video to tag the rapper’s manager, Dre London.

“I would’ve loved to share that with him. He’s the kind of guy who collaborates with other artists. This would’ve been a dream come true,” Kremblas said.

The day of Post Malone’s performance, Kremblas did receive a message from London, but by the time he saw it when he arrived at the venue, the opportunity had passed.

“Minutes before he went on, I got the message. I finally saw it and I was just crushed. Had I just opened the message and wasn’t oblivious, I could have had that opportunity,” Kremblas recalled.

Shortly after that missed opportunity, he took a hiatus from playing accordion due to shoulder pain he suffered from consistently wearing the instrument.

“I had to readjust and that’s when I started thinking about what I can do for other people,” Kremblas said.

He then shifted his focus and brand to teaching the accordion and encouraging others to learn more about the instrument through his website.

Despite being popularized in recent memory by artists such as “Weird” Al Yankovic, the accordion is seen largely as an instrument of novelty.
Instrument manufacturer Roland described Yankovic’s use of the accordion in his music as promoting “the cause of accordion-wielding weirdos.”

Kremblas thinks the instrument should be taken more seriously than how it has been portrayed.

“It’s this beautiful, capable instrument that has a really bad reputation, based off of it being coined as a tool of comedy,” he said.