Korey Dane hail from Long Beach, California and play an infectious blend of acoustic driven songs with powerful vocals and engaging lyrics. They have a familiar, classic feel, yet are refreshingly new. Think of it like you poured yourself a drink and dusted off an old 45 to find a lost record nobody has heard before. Led by singer/songwriter Korey Dane, this six-piece band also includes the charming voice of Tess Shapiro, Alex Medina, John Garbutt, Tyler Juarez, and David Beltran. Korey and Tess are both great vocalists who combine so naturally that it’s hard to ignore their obvious chemistry. Korey also has a real knack for songwriting, reminiscent of some artists who wouldn’t be fair to mention because he could give them a run for their money. Last year they independently released the album For the Kite Flyers and have been steadily gaining a following. We contacted Korey to ask him a few questions and he was happy to answer them. Among other topics we discussed their music, what’s in store for the future, and he recommended some cool things to listen, watch, and read.
Q: Korey, how long have you been making music and what influenced you to pick up a guitar for the first time, then eventually start a band?
I’ve had a guitar since I was 15 but it wasn’t until the last three or four years that I really took anything somewhat serious. The little things have always stuck out to me and I think that’s what gets me going most.
Q: Tess has a very unique voice, and we love it. How did you and Tess meet? How long have you been playing together?
Tess was a student of my mothers at the high school we both went to. She’s a bit older than me and I remember my mom showing me her songs once in the car before I even played music. When I started recording some of the songs that later became our first album, I just asked her if she wanted to join in. It’s really crazy how well it worked out and now she’s one of my best friends.
Q: When did you add the additional members of the band?
It’s definitely a recent addition. After Tess and I started working together and people started catching on we both felt like more instruments wouldn’t hurt. John, the piano player, recorded on the album with me and then asked his two friends David and Alex if they’d be interested and we have been playing ever since. Just in the past month a good friend of mine named Tyler picked up the bass and got on board too.
Q: Your lyrics are great and they seem very honest. While the songs are not conventional pop songs, they maintain a subtle pop sensibility. Can you give a little insight to your song writing process? Are they based off yourself and people you have encountered in life?
When I first read this question I laughed, so I thought I’d note that. I don’t want to over intellectualize my writing but I also don’t want to make it seem like its bullshit. I live up in my head and sometimes real figures make their way in there and sometimes they don’t. It’s always a trip writing anything.
Q: Your album For the Kite Flyers came out last fall. Have you written any new material? Do you plan on getting back into the studio anytime soon?
Since I started writing I couldn’t stop. It was a weird experience releasing that album because the songs were all so old with an exception of a few, I knew I had to get them out or I’d never do it. I record all the stuff myself so I never really stop recording either. A new album is in the works though and it should be refreshing.
Q: The band seemed to start as a solo project, but now has six members. There’s a lot you can do in a band with six people. On future recordings will you be sticking with something similar to your past recordings, or will you be adding to and altering some elements of the music?
The music is constantly changing. I have a definite affinity to minimalist ideals but I’m also always open to other things. We have already gone pretty far off track from the last album, but we’re all enjoying it.
Q: You’re currently unsigned. Have you had any contact with record labels?
We haven’t really started down that road yet. It’ll happen when it does, for right now we’re just trying to get more songs out there.
Q: Over the last few years, many of the bands from Southern California that we’re exposed to here on the east coast are putting out lo-fi or stripped down garage rock (Wavves, Best Coast, The Soft Pack, etc). With the current state of the music industry and how people become exposed to new music in general, is it hard to become recognized when not part of a scene that’s getting a lot of buzz and coverage from journalists and blogs (Pitchfork, Aquarium Drunkard, etc.)? Is there even really a scene like that in Southern Cal or is this just something the online world created by grouping bands together because of aesthetic similarities and location?
There is definitely a scene out here. To put it into words is pretty difficult but I get what you’re asking. Being immersed in a city where people want to stomp to their feet gets interesting. A lot of the listeners are confused when they find out we’re from Southern California and we just kinda laugh. As far as Pitchfork and those kinds of things go I don’t really pay attention. I’m friends with a lot of the people making music out here and seemingly the only people ripping apart the latest albums [from Korey Dane] are kids walking their bikes from coffee shop to coffee shop. People are still buying the album all over and that’s all I really wanted.
Q: Do you have any upcoming live performances and plan on touring in the near future?
We were playing often last year and now we’re just focusing on getting practices in whenever we can. We have a show the 20th of this month at Open Bookstore in Long Beach and another private show the 27th outside of Los Angeles. We’ll be playing a lot more throughout the year as well. Next year we are looking to tour the west coast somewhat extensively.
Q: I noticed you have a song titled “Ask the Dust”. Is this song or its title in any way inspired by the John Fante novel titled “Ask the Dust”?
Absolutely. John Fante is one of the people who continually makes me want to write.
Q: I really like your videos and photographs. Who shoots them?
There are a few different people who shoot the photos but the videos come form a dear friend of mine named Dana Morris. He has helped us the whole way through and is always behind what we do. He has also done some of the photos for us. Zach Corbin, and Raymond Molinar have also shot some flicks that turned out really great.
Q: Besides music, Unlimited Juice also covers film and literature. Could you recommend an album, film, and book that you absolutely love?
None of these are contemporary but here we go. I have been listening to Closing Time by Tom Waits religiously recently. I just saw The Cove and I really think people should see that and do what they can to help the cause. Read Emmerson’s essay on Poetry.
I would like to thank Korey for taking the time out to talk with us. Very excited to see what Korey Dane comes out with on their future releases and wish them the best of luck. Videos for the songs “To Mona”, “Ask the Dust” and “California” are posted below, make sure to check them out. Also check out the page for Dana Morris on vimeo.com, it has a few films and more videos from Korey Dane and other artists. You can purchase Korey Dane For the Kite Flyers via iTunes and their website at koreydane.com.
— Ian Lewis
“Ask the Dust”