AN INTERVIEW WITH DAKOTA O
Charleston psych rock voyager, Dakota O, released his first project late October of last year with the immersive Recluse EP. Eight tracks wind through dense waves of heady swirls. Listen to Recluse and be sure to catch his new live session with Clemson, SC radio station, WSBF.
YOUR SONGS HAVE SO MANY MOVING PARTS AND OVERLAPPING ELEMENTS. WHERE DO YOU BEGIN???
When I started recording this album, it was literally my first endeavor in writing and recording complete songs. Other than a couple of three minute little instrumental demos, I had no experience in producing anything, which is part of the reason why it took so long to finish because half of the time I was just trying to learn the world of producing.
Regarding the writing process, I've found that the ideal method for me is having a song completely written in my head before I touch an instrument, then I try my best to match what I have in my head on the ole puter (old computer). I find it extremely difficult to just have a riff for one instrument and write around that. Even though this way is easier for me, it's very crippling because I end up working a song up in my head, getting it all out, then when it’s finished or near finished, I have to start with a blank canvas again and re-do the whole process for the next song. I'll have days of extreme productivity where things are running very smoothly, then when the song is finished and I hit the "blank canvas" again, there's an overwhelming feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction that lasts however long it takes for another spark to appear, which can feel like an eternity.
On Recluse, each song was written in order of the tracks and I remember when I was engulfed in it, I would have one song nearly completely written, then I would start writing the next song and try to make connections between them. Or I would just have another song ready, then try to find elements that would correlate with another song. It's sporadic and chaotic and hard to put in words. Something I could compare it to is Charlie from Always Sunny when he's working in the mailroom. Writing this album was sort of restricting because it was as though every previous song regulated how I would write the next. I'm trying to move away from that and just write songs, then work out correlations and transitions later.
YOUR MUSIC HAS BEEN SELF-DESCRIBED AS BUTTROCK. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF BUTTROCK AND WHERE DO YOU SEE IT GOING?
Buttrock is really more than just a genre - it's a feeling that pulses through my veins with every heartbeat. It's had its ups and downs for years now, but I feel completely comfortable saying that the spirit of Scott Stapp (RIP) is still thriving in my body today.
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR MASK ON THE ALBUM COVER?
I found the mask at my parents' house this past year and thought it looked weird and interesting. According to my mom, it's been around since I was a toddler and apparently it would cheer me up during fits.
YOU PLAYED EVERY INSTRUMENT, MIXED, MASTERED, AND RECORDED ALL OF A NEAR 45 MINUTE PSYCH VOYAGE. HOW DID YOU DO THAT?
I spent A LOT of time--years-- saving up and collecting instruments and recording gear before the album. I've never been prolific at one instrument, but instead I've been semi-average at a few, which I think helped. I recorded and mixed everything in my bedroom.
THE EP IS CALLED RECLUSE. HOW DO YOU SEE THE RELATIONSHIP TO YOUR ART AND YOURSELF? WHAT WAS IT LIKE SHARING SOMETHING SO DEEPLY YOURS WITH OTHERS? WAS THE PROCESS OF MAKING THIS RECORD CATHARTIC?
I honestly wouldn't describe myself as a reclusive person. I definitely love alone time and I often feel slightly out of place in social situations, but not to the extent of calling myself a recluse. During the time that I was producing the album, I went through a break up that definitely made me a much more reclusive person. I would spend days in my room just reflecting and I rarely went out. When I did, I felt extremely uncomfortable and just wanted to get back to being alone. It really sucks because initially I didn't want the project to be as cathartic as it ended up being. I wanted it to have a much more creative backbone that didn’t just reflect on me, which I'm getting back to for this next album, but Recluse just ended up being a gooey, heartbreak album. It's really strange creating something during a period of a whirlwind of emotions (and even stranger when you release it to the public) because once you leave that state of mind, you look back and just say "What the fuck was I thinking?... Why did I do that?..." I think that it's important to not reflect heavily on that because the only thing that matters is certainty and satisfaction during the moment of creation, which I definitely had for this album.
WHY CALL IT AN EP?
When I was recording Recluse I had no intention of making a short EP. I wanted to make a full length, which is what it ended up being. But there was a period of a few months after I finished recording, when I was trying to get post-production sorted out, where I completely lost all pride for the project (which I know contradicts what I said to the last question). I called it an EP in effort to undermine it because in all honesty, I hated it. By the time I released it, I felt as though it could have been a lot more than it was. I was disgusted by the lyrical content, the production quality, and the composition in general, but I spent way too much time and energy on it to not release it. By that point, I thought my playing and producing skills had increased a lot from when I was working on the album. So I just tagged "EP" after it in hopes that people wouldn't take it very seriously, just like I didn't anymore. I definitely regret it - 1. because it doesn't make sense and 2. because I should have stuck to my gut and believed in what I made. I think in the future, I'm just not gonna let a lot of time pass between recording and release, just to avoid any second guessing.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR DAKOTA O?
My main priority is working on the second album, which I'm really hoping to release late February. Other than that, my brother and I are sparking up music video ideas that will hopefully be out soon. I also want to self-publish a lyric/poster book in the next few months. And after that, hopefully a tour this summer!