Since moving to New York, I’ve been introduced to a ton of local artists, both organically and at the hands of friends who’ve already been living here. In this series of interviews, Grrrls in the Five Boroughs, I sit down with inspiring womxn and queer femme musicians based in New York City to discuss their personal connections to music, their communities, and their favorite local hotspots scattered across their neighborhoods in New York.
As the great George Clinton once proclaimed, “You can’t fake the funk.” Funk is the rawest form of rhythm and blues, pioneered by American rock and R&B legends like James Brown and Bootsy Collins. The funk is not just a sound, it’s a state of mind. And to enter the vibrant world of Brooklyn-based funk-rock band Dakota Jones is to immerse yourself in the funk in its purest form.
At the forefront of their revolutionary sound is lead singer Tristan Carter Jones, a fearless advocate fighting to amplify the voices of black and queer artists on larger scales. Music is ingrained in her DNA, which is evident on the band’s latest album Heartbreakers Space Club. From the spacey hypnotism of the opening track “Moon Song” to the sultry choral groove on “Misbehave Me,” Jones drenches the listener in a cavity-inducing sonic simple syrup guaranteed to transport you to another dimension.
A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents caught up with Dakota Jones‘ very own Tristan Carter Jones to discuss her love of D’Angelo and Bowie, in addition to the band’s glittery live performances and their refreshing optimism for the future of womxn and femmes in the music industry.
To start us off, how would you personally describe Dakota Jones to a stranger?
You feel Dakota Jones in your gut. We’re a blend of many things – rock, soul, R&B, funk, hip-hop, rap – and it all comes together to make something musically unique, with lyrics that always make you feel something.
How and when did you start creating music?
It’s hard to say. Music has just always been in my bones and around me and a part of me. I know the band feels the same way. I’ve been singing since before I could talk, it’s just always been the thing that brings me the most joy. And I started writing songs when I was probably 7 or 8. Really bad songs. They’re a lot better now.
I love your soul/funk-inspired sound. Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
The first ones that always pop into my head, especially for this album, are Stevie Wonder, Prince, D’Angelo, Bowie. In general, I have to mention Chaka Khan, Frank Ocean, Sade.
I’m loving your new album Heartbreakers Space Club. Can you tell me a little about the recording process and what you were listening to at the time of making it?
Thank you! Heartbreakers Space Club is our baby! We really walked into the studio with no preconceived notions and no real plans. We just kind of let the music speak to us, and we played around and followed what felt right, without thinking about what genre or boxes the music would fit into, or what we should do. It was just all feel. We holed up in a house in New Jersey for a couple of weeks and just let things flow. Prince, D’Angelo, and Bowie were on heavy rotation while we were writing, for sure.
How do you feel about the current state of the music industry? Do you feel like it’s getting better for womxn/POC/queer artists?
It’s a wild industry to be a part of. I don’t even know where to begin. What I can say, on a positive note, is that I think things are changing rapidly, and I think that it’s becoming easier to reach wider audiences and make your own lanes without having to go through typical industry channels. It’s easier to do so many things independently if you’re willing to learn, to be challenged, and to build a team on your own. For those reasons, I think it’s becoming more accessible than ever for womxn/POC/queer artists to share their stories, to have their voices heard, and to build community. And that’s something that I am really grateful for.
What can people expect from your live shows?
A lot of noise, a lot of sweat, and a lot of glitter. I’m so proud of the live band that we’ve grown and expanded into. We just kind of get on stage and spill our guts and play our hearts out. It’s a good time, it’s an experience.
As this is a music-based site, what are some of your favorite underground musicians/bands you would recommend to listeners?
For sure! Blue Mena, THEMME, and SPACE CADE7S are some of my faves.
What does the rest of the year have in store for Dakota Jones?
A whole lot more playing live and touring, and just getting out into the community to meet new people and share the music. I can’t wait to share this album with everyone, and hopefully hear how it resonates with folks.
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