26th January 2023
Interview: Amy Bell
Dakota Jones have been stomping around and making noise for nearly 8 years now. Featuring Tristan Carter-Jones on vocals, Scott Jet Kramp on bass, Steve Ross on the drums, and Eddy Marshall on the guitar, Dakota Jones have moulded their sound into something at once commanding and vulnerable, spontaneous and deliberate, familiar and refreshing. Harnessing a timeless groove and magisterial queer black power, they first burst onto the UK scene in 2021, easily translating their formidable energy as a live act into their debut record. Channelling furious energy inspired by the likes of Chaka Khan, Janis Joplin and Marvin Gaye, the group showcased their uncensored songwriting and were unafraid to take a deep dive into life’s most visceral emotions.
Hi guys, thanks for talking to Revamp, can you tell us a bit about all of your back stories from how you got into music?
First of all, thank you so much for having us!
Tristan Carter-Jones (vocals, lyrics): I've been singing and writing for as long as I can remember. It's just always been my go to form of expression, and the place that I feel most at home. For a long time it was something that I did just for myself, it wasn't until we formed Dakota Jones that I really started getting out there and performing. Had to conquer that (huge) fear of getting on stage and kind of spilling my guts.
Scott (bass, production): Music was always just something that played in the house - until I discovered Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder. That album really changed the way that I listen to music, and made me want to figure out how he was creating and building those sounds.
Steve (drums): I don’t actually know, music was always just there. When do you get into eating or breathing? It’s just always been the constant. As I, and we as a band grew up, knowing that we could create it ourselves and contribute to that is an incredible realization. And I almost feel like we have no choice but to do that.
Eddy (guitar): I started playing guitar when I was ten, and grew up listening to Norah Jones and Ray Charles. After playing all the high school talent shows I possibly could, my first handful of real shows were at the Radio Bean in Burlington, Vermont. That's sort of where I realized I could perform out in the world regularly. So, I transferred from UVM to Berklee and studied music education before moving to New York to become a musician. I release music under my name fairly regularly still, but my heart soars when I'm just playing guitar for and collaborating with full bands.
How did you all meet, and realize that you all wanted to be in a band? How did ‘Dakota Jones’, come about?
I’ve known Steve, since 1999 actually, we were in elementary school together. In 2016, Steve and our former guitarist started jamming for fun. They asked me to come around and sing with them some time, and I said absolutely not. I was terrified of singing in public, even just in front of the two of them. Eventually, Steve convinced me to come along, and we would just play covers of songs. It was a nerve wracking process for me, but I kept showing up. Scott was a friend of our guitarist and was pulled in to round out the sound and make a proper four piece. One day, just messing around, we ended up writing a song, a song called “Leave Me Alone” from our first EP. We knew pretty immediately after that that this was what we should be doing, and we just never stopped. When we started looking for a new guitarist, we got really lucky with Eddy. A friend of mine recommended him to us, after seeing him perform around New York. We shared our music with him, and asked if he wanted to join us for the ride, and he was pretty much immediately down. It's been a real love-fest ever since. [laughs]
You are back now, with the release of ‘Sugar Pie’, released on January 23rd, how are you gearing up for this release?
Yes! It always feels so, so good to be putting out new music again, and I think we're all just enjoying the process, and waiting to see how everything unfolds. We've put our hearts into the music, and whatever happens happens. We've been practicing a lot, and putting together a new live show to include the new music. We've also brought in some new additions to the live show, to make the music sound as full and whole as possible. We're scheduling a bunch of shows for this year, starting with our first show back at Heaven Can Wait on the Lower East Side in NYC. 10pm.
You describe this release as still having the same R’n'B vibes, but it is funkier and sultrier, what made you want to change the vibes for this new comeback?
I think that it just came out naturally, honestly. This time around we were not concerned with the sound fitting into any sort of genre in particular, we just allowed whatever was on our hearts to come out. I think that the new music we've been working on bounces around from genre to genre, but comes together to make a pretty cohesive piece.
What was your recording/writing process like? How do you know once it is ready to be released?
The bulk of the album was recorded over two extended sessions. Steve's parents offered their home in New Jersey to us, and the whole band traveled to stay there for about a week in December 2021, and a week in February 2022. Some of the recordings came from things we'd been working on throughout the year, and some songs were created on the spot in the living room. We had no real plan for anything, we were really just making music for fun. I think we know the songs are done when we're all on the same page, and when the track is true to what we hear when we hear the songs in our head.
What are you most excited about releasing ‘Sugar Pie’?
To get some new music out there, and to see where the song resonates! It's also been years in the making, putting out this new music, so it feels good to have these things come to fruition. We're just excited to get back out there, and get on the road, and share our music with as many ears as possible.
What can we expect from you in 2023?
New shows in new places, a whole lot of new music, and a few surprises. We're coming at it from a new direction, and we're just excited for the journey to begin.
Sugar Pie by Dakota Jones is now streaming on all platforms.