Hazy, Beautiful, and Wild | An Interview with Dakota

– by Camille Banzon, Music Editor –

Do you know that feeling you get when you start listening to a new band and something in you just starts to fire up? Not a violent kind of fire, but a soft, gentle sizzle that will keep you warm until the end of the song. That’s how we felt when we first heard of Dakota. So we kept on listening, and the delicate scorch just kept on burning beautifully.

Composed of four ladies from Amsterdam, Dakota has a sound that’s easy to adore; anyone can be delighted with their gentle, sedated charge on LA-style dream pop. Luscious trickling riffs, alluring drum work and pulsating bass lines are all present in their 2016 album, “Leda,” as well is in their recent releases, one of which we featured as our Song of the Day two weeks ago.

In a song called “Tension,” frontman Lana Kooper sings in a high-pitched whim, that “good things come to those who wait,” as if pressing a melodic piece of advice to anyone who’s going through an unsavory, impatient phase. It’s common to find empowering and insightful themes in Dakota’s music, and they often talk about usual, common issues that all of us go through but address in a different, less melodic manner. And this is probably one of the reasons why we’re enthralled with this band’s style.

Recently, we were gifted the chance to talk to Dakota, and the band shared with us how they were formed, their plan to isolate themselves to write new music, and even divulged a bunch of secret talents, such as solving complicated math problems and hula hooping.

How did you guys form the band?

Drummer Annemarie and bass player Lana formed a high school band in 2008 with some classmates (a pre-version of what Dakota is today). After school, they entered the preparation course of the conservatory of Amsterdam where they met guitar player Tessa and singer Lisa. With the combination of the four of us, the renewed version of the band immediately fell into place.

Main influences?

Regarding icons and influences we all come from very different places. For example, Tessa listens to The War On Drugs, Lana listens to Robert Glasper, Lisa to Gemma Hayes and Annemarie to Nas. We like to believe that the combination of these totally different music genres lead to ‘the Dakota sound.’

In your 2016 release, Leda, it’s pretty evident that the main themes in the lyrics are patience, and how to handle emotions firmly. How has the themes changed now that you are working on new material?

Lisa: Back when we released Leda we were really eager to show the world who we were and what we’ve been through, as a band or individually, but we didn’t want to rush into things so patience is definitely one of the themes.

I also think that with Leda, there was a certain emotional distance to the situations. The situations we wrote about were all in the past and we could just kind of look at them and name the emotions and write them down. Whereas now, there seems a lot less emotional distance to the situations, because they’re happening now, as we’re writing these songs. So the lyrics might be a little harsher, a little more in your face and they might come across as emotionally unstable rather than handling emotions firmly.

What’s the story or inspiration behind “Silver Tongue?” Any specific moment, individually or as a band that contributed to the creation of the song?

Silver tongue is actually just an accumulation of many moments. When people say to us that our dreams are out of our reach or that we should just get a “real job.” It especially hurts when we hear people say these things when they’re close to us and see how much time we spend on music. So we’re actually saying “yes we heard you, yes we’re scared too sometimes so we understand where you’re coming from but we’re not giving this up.”

What should we expect from your upcoming material?

We are actually working on new material right now. In August, we will get out of the city for a week to isolate ourselves from the outside world and to really focus on writing new songs with just the four of us. We tend to get inspired by our own train of thoughts and not so much by occurrences, so even for us it’s exciting what will come next.

Music wise, we are still developing. Even though we can’t really put our finger on it yet, we do seem to grow towards a little more energetic songs but with the same dreamy vibe. We don’t really decide what our sound should be beforehand, we’d like to see where our jams and moods take us. If we’d decide we’d like to write a joyful upbeat song, but our mood doesn’t allow it, the result won’t match our ideas, so we just go with what our experiences in life lead us to at that moment.

We hear a lot of psychedelic guitar work in your songs. Do you listen regularly to certain psychedelic artists?

Tessa: I really like the Smiths, Tame Impala, Warpaint and the War On Drugs for their guitar work. Not super psych-y per se, but these artists are always in the back of my mind when we write new songs and combined with my own style of playing it comes out a little psychedelic I guess.

Many people compare and relate all-female bands like Warpaint to you guys. Do you feel that it’s becoming repetitive? How do you usually respond to this?

It sometimes does seem like an easy, not well considered, comparison to make. However, we do take it as a compliment and Warpaint is, mostly for Tessa, a true inspiration, that’s one we can’t deny

When we don’t agree with any comparison, we just ask someone to explain and share our own thoughts about it.

A bit off topic: what are your 5 favorite albums of all time?

  • Nas – Illmatic
  • Avril Lavigne – Let Go
  • Fink – Hard Believer
  • Gemma Hayes – Night on my side
  • War On Drugs – Lost in the dream

Bands, musicians you’d like or dream of working with? Why?

We all have such different icons, but there is one icon we share (with so many others, but with good reasons): Beyoncé.

Even today, when we had our photo shoot, we kept singing her songs (“OK Ladies now let’s get in formation”). For every occasion there is a Beyoncé one-liner you could pull. Apart from her great writing skills, we also admire the way she presents herself and therefore a collaboration would be very, very inspiring.

What do you like doing when not making music? Other passions?

We all love LOVE food. We either make music or think about what we’re gonna eat next. There will never be a rehearsal without a meal before or after, preferably Indonesian We all love NETFLIX as well and some of us have some weird passions such as hula hooping.

Any other talents you’d like to share to your fans?

Lisa could be a Disney princess (for real), Annemarie would love to walk around with a screw driver, fixing things, all day, Lana is actually a math teacher and Tessa could eat anything that includes cheese and onion all day every day.

 

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Camille Banzon is the music editor of The Violet Wave. After years of covering music festivals, concerts and reviewing albums, she decided to move to a tropical surf island, where she runs a hostel and lives off of coconuts, bikinis, and streaming. Her work on music writing can be seen in FHM Philippines, Pacifiqa, Coconuts Manila, 8list, and Amplify.ph. She likes groovy basslines, clean waves, and stinky cheese.

Got a song you want us to feature? E-mail Camille at camille@thevioletwave.com.

Twitter: @thevioletwave

Facebook: The Violet Wave

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