Since their formation in 2016, Dakota Jones have been making waves in the industry with several acclaimed EP’s and singles. Led by singer Tristan Carter-Jones, the band brings a modern twist to blues and rock music. With incredibly powerful vocals and lyrics that cover topics from sexuality and heartache to self-medication and politics, the band hooks you in from the very first notes. Now, they’re getting ready to release their debut album Black Light and we had the pleasure to chat to them to ask them all about it.
RC: Hi! Can you describe your music in three words?
DJ: Funky, sexy, and vulnerable
RC: After many successful singles and EP’s, you’re now releasing your debut album. What was the creation of the album like?
DJ: It was such an amazing process creating this album. We began working on the album over a year ago, and finally got into the studio in November of 2020. I think the combination of coming out of lockdown to record and being able to record our debut album led to a great deal of excitement around its creation. There was so much fun and love in the room, and you can really hear that when you listen to the album.
RC: You write a lot about your sexuality and other topics including heartbreak and finding yourself: how important is it to you to incorporate your identity into your music? Do you find it difficult to share very personal aspects of your life or do you find it freeing?
DJ: I think it’s immensely important to represent where you’re coming from, figuratively and literally, when you’re making music. There’s a lot of soul baring on this album, and in most of our work. It can be difficult to be so honest, but at the same time I think that’s the most important part. Sharing your true self allows people to connect more deeply with the music, and that’s one of our major goals.
RC: The album has a lot of funk and soul influences, what were some of your biggest inspirations when creating the songs?
DJ: I feel like we listened almost exclusively to Isaac Hayes while we were making this record, he definitely was a huge influence on the album. Chaka Khan and Rufus are always on my mind and in my soul, she’s always a huge influence of mine. Then of course there’s Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Aretha.
RC: For the album you’ve collaborated with some incredible musicians, what do you like the most about working together with other artists? Do you find it takes you into a different direction musically?
DJ: Definitely, bringing Randy Jacobs onto the project brought us to a whole new level of funk. I love the process of collaborating because you never know where it will lead you. Some of our demos started in one place, and landed in a completely different musical world with the help of the artists that we were working with.
RC: Apart from sharing a message of proud black heritage and queerness, you have also used your music to tackle issues of injustice through “Noise” written after the 2016 US elections. What do you hope people take away from your music?
DJ: The main hope is that people are able to connect with the music on an emotional level. I share a lot of my deepest fears and insecurities, as well as my hopes and loves and dreams. Like you mentioned, it’s a frightening thing to do, but it’s worth it when people come back to us and let us know that the songs got them through a tough time, or that one of the songs is “their song” with their partner. I just want people to really feel something when they listen to our music.
RC: Your live performances have been praised as being powerful and unforgettable: how do you go about creating a live show? What aspects of it are most important to you?
DJ: We spend hours and hours rehearsing for each show, but I think that one of the most important aspects of the show is spontaneity. Practice gets the band on the same page, which allows us freedom to improvise during the live shows, and always leaves space for something magical to happen.
RC: With live performances having started back up again, is there any venue you would love to play in and why?
DJ: My sights are set on Madison Square Garden! It’s just a totally iconic New York Venue, reserved for the best of the best. One day we’ll get there, mark my words.
RC: Lastly, if you could perform with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
DJ: I would transport myself back to 1973 and play with Led Zeppelin, while they were shooting The Song Remains the Same. Even just to be in the crowd would have blown my mind.
Black Light is out everywhere on August 27.
Lead image by Alexandra Johnson.