I've always figured the more bands you're in, the cooler you are. If my own senseless standard is true, Emily Dantuma and Ollie Dodge are some of the coolest people around.
The husband-and-wife duo makes up the Saint Paul, Minn., band Daymoths, but they've also been in three other bands together, two of which are still active. The couple is bringing their current project - and their handmade soap - to Tulsa on Thursday, Jan. 13. Downtown's Soundpony, Tulsa's best showcase for indie rock (and most other types of live, original music) is a couple of stops into their first tour as a duo.
"We've heard good things about the place," keyboardist and singer Dantuma said in a recent phone conversation.
Dantuma is 28, while Dodge is 32. Many couples their age are settling down and having babies, but not these two. They've moved all their stuff into the basement of their Saint Paul home so they can rent the rest of the house out to friends while they're on tour.
The couple says they play "stripped down but spacious pop music." Dantuma, a multi-instrumentalist with a classical background, plays vintage-sounding keyboards and sings. Dodge plays drums and sings backup. In a video on the band's Web site, the Daymoths look cutesy -- sort of like Mates of State, but with an eerie edge. They make a slightly spooky, but overall pleasant sound - something Dantuma says she thinks about when she writes the band's songs.
"In our other bands, we've done a lot of more experimental stuff," she said. "So with Daymoths, I've tried to make it a little more accessible and easier to listen to."
Dantuma met Dodge when he was working at a coffee shop.
"I slipped my phone number in the tip jar," she said, laughing.
Dodge must have called, because Dantuma wound up playing cello and keyboards in his band Vox Vermillion. That group lasted until 2006 and enjoyed some success. It was signed to Women Records, a rock label started by hip hop artist Atmosphere to showcase bands from in and around his hometown of Minneapolis. The deal meant greater exposure for the band, and Dantuma and Dodge found themselves playing for large audiences in better venues. It was fun while it lasted, but the band ultimately fell apart.
"We might have had too much success too early," she said.
In time, Dantuma and Dodge formed two new bands, Company Inc. and Mr. Mustachio.
Both feature the same lineup of Dantuma, Dodge and two friends, but Dantuma said the bands each serve a different creative purpose.
"Company Inc. is similar to the Daymoths, but with more instrumentation," she said. "Mr. Mustachio is more noise rock."
About a year ago, when the couple's bandmates didn't want to tour, Dantuma and Dodge formed Daymoths. Dantuma writes the songs and says she finds much of her inspiration in nature. That makes sense, since she's a landscaper by day. Dodge is a server at a restaurant who grew up on a farm and shares his wife's love of all things natural. When I found out the couple sells their homemade soap on the side, I figured they were big hippies.
"Not really," she said, laughing. "We're eco-rockers!"
Dantuma has written about a dozen Daymoths songs so far, many of them while house sitting in Iowa.
"I would just go on long walks with my dog and soak up the landscape," she said.
Listening to songs like "Worry," I can't help but picture a pretty desolate place. That song and others from the Daymoth's self-titled EP are reminiscent of David Bowie -- not his music, but the weird and washed-out landscapes from his 1976 movie "The Man Who Fell to Earth." The film's scenes of an alien alone on Earth share something creepy but also beautiful with the Daymoths' music. The songs bring to mind the freakish contents of Victorian curiosity cabinets and would make for a great soundtrack to the most adorable little taxidermy shop you've ever seen.
It seems a little strange that the same people responsible for that spacey, spooky and stripped-down sound also make and sell their own fancy soaps, but I guess there is something to be said for smelling good - especially when so many musicians' touring schedules don't seem to include time for a shower. One can be assured, though, that, like Paul McCartney's grandfather in "A Hard Day's Night," the Daymoths are very clean.
Like all shows at the Soundpony, it's 21 or older to get in, free, non-smoking and should be pretty great. Get a preview at Daymoths.com.
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