Tulsa is known for "The Tulsa Sound", a musical style that includes late 1950's & early 1960's rockabilly, country, rock 'n roll and blues. Many musicians still carry out the history and style today, but the Tulsa music scene has inevitably gained new sounds and driving artists over the decades. Recent emerging artists such as Jesse Aycock, Dead Sea Choir, Steve Pryor, and more are pioneering "The New Tulsa Sound"--releasing compilations that incorporate influences such as Funk, Americana, Bebop, Reggae partnered with the nostalgic blues, jazz, Western Swing sounds.
A duet who has been a huge part of the New Tulsa Sound are lovebirds Desi Roses & Cody Clinton of Desi & Cody, artists who also incorporate a wide range of influences within their music. They strive to create a musical journey for their listeners, their vast array of sounds are like pleasantly encountering unique, bright and colorful fish as you float down a smooth enjoyable river ride of music. When I first heard, "Roll With It," the song was on repeat in my head for days, I adore the laid-back, jazzy style and endearing harmonies, laced with some Western Swing. Desi & Cody had been blowing up my social media, stacked with press and shows--and Cody's work in hosting a singer-songwriter night weekly also caught my attention. In my Artist of the Month features, I always welcome the opportunity to give coverage to artists who are not only making great music, but giving back to their community in some way. Desi & Cody are doing both.
about your influences?
Desi: Growing up we moved ALOT! In each new house we had a check list before moving in. The home had to have enough rooms for all 7 of us, it had to have a bathtub for soaking, a good place for the Christmas tree and a Fireplace for my stage! I was always putting on shows and naturally the fireplace was the spot to do it! Im not entirely sure of my musical background. I know my mom and dad could sing, I was always watching some Disney Princess or classic films with Judy Garland, Dorris Day, Marilyn Monroe. I just wanted to be them! So I'd sing the songs and act out scenes. I recently had this memory of my sister and I. She would wake me up and play guitar late at night while I sang along. Actually, shes the reason I found Patsy Cline! I remember she told me I needed to learn Patsy and sing for our Grandpa, so I did!
Cody: I grew up with a musical family. My father played guitar and my mother sang. My brother is a great musician, and most of my Uncles, Aunts, and cousins are artists and/or musicians. As far as influences, there are too many to count. When I started playing guitar, I was going to a Freewill Baptist Church. So there was a lot of that "O Brother Where Art Thou?" sort of Bluegrassy Gospel happening. Prior to that though, as a child (and on into adulthood) my father educated me thoroughly on bands like The Beatles, The Band, The Stones, Traffic, and a lot of the great Rock N' Roll bands of the 60's and 70's. So we would have these big family get togethers where one guy would sing "Take it Easy" by The Eagles, and the next might sing "I'll fly Away." REALLY though, what made me want to play music was the stuff that was going on when I was kid in the 90's, like Nirvana, STP, and Pearl Jam (particualry the Vitalogy album). So I really didn't like all the Bluegrass Gospel I was forced to play at the time. Of course now I've fully embraced those roots in Southern Gospel/Bluegrass.
Jenn: How has your sound evolved from when you first started collaborating?
Desi: I think throughout these past few years Ive been developing my voice and kinda finding out what it's capable of. In the beginning, I looked to my favorite vocalist for inspiration and direction. It felt safe. However, with each new original song I was kinda forced to find my own sound. So I guess thats my personal "evolution" ha! :) As far as our sound and its direction, I think its changed just as much as our lives have. Our latest record touches on some heavier facts of life for sure. We were experiencing so much at that time. My father passed away, Cody's father was battling cancer and at the same time we were celebrating my baby brother's graduation, our engagement and so on! Lots of highs and lows...as life goes. Because music and poetry are such a great reflection of our lives, I think our sound will inevitably continue to change and grow.
Cody: The music is always changing. Even from track to track on this latest record you can hear a lot of changes going on. I used to think that a band had to have it's own "sound." And I suppose this is true to a certain extent. But the only way to do that is just to be yourself as much as you can. And the truth is, we change as we grow up. Our previous EP's each sounded a bit different from one another, and the new record sounds even further from what those sounded like. I have a feeling the next album will change even more. I'm not afraid of change. I mean, check out the ways Bowie changed over the years. Think of how many times Bob Dylan completely defied himself with each new album he put out. I think if you try to recreate your past, musically or otherwise, it can easily end in disaster.
Jenn: You guys have been a big part of the Tulsa music community, what do you feel
makes Tulsa unique regarding the music scene?
Cody: Well, the community here is very tight knit. Everyone plays in everyone else's band. The best part is that people are very open to letting new talent into the community, and supporting each other. If there is a competitive spirit, it is what I would call a healthy one.
Desi: I agree with Cody, took the words right out of my mouth! I love the community of musicians and music lovers we have! Its just cozy. Tulsa is rich with talent and southern hospitality!
Jenn: You just did a European tour, what differences did you notice between playing
in Europe vs. the States?
Cody: Well the biggest difference is that they are more into American Rock N' Roll and Folk than what I think we are here. They seemed to be extremely educated on the history of American music, perhaps even more so than most Americans. We were also treated extremely well by the venues and very well taken care of. There are some venues here in the States that take good care of musicians but the treatment we received over there was second to none. They prepared home cooked meals, and took us into their homes. The crowds were also extremely respectful. During our performances you could've heard a pin drop, until we would finish a song and then they would cheer in a way that was almost dutiful.
Desi: Again, Cody said it all! It was pretty scary at first. We went from playing the occasional listening room and mostly crowded bars to this almost red carpet experience. Home made meals, coffee, tea, wine and above all this almost reverent crowd of people who wanted to hear what you had to say! It didn't leave much room for mistakes that's for sure!
"I think Tulsa is on it way for great things! The amount of cultural events and support for the arts popping up is so exciting!" -Desi Roses
leave home without?
Desi: Oh! It's taken me awhile to get this down, but Ive got a pretty good idea now!
1. Throat Coat Tea 2. Snacks (I have a food allergy and I am always hungry.) 3. Sunglasses 4. Dry Shampoo 5. Red lipstick because no matter how run down I may feel, I believe red lips help me fake it till I make it! Red lips make everything just look complete!
Cody: 1. Guitar(obviously) 2. My favorite mics 3. My black boots 4. GPS!!!(iPhone) 5. Sunglasses
Jenn: What are some challenges about playing music together as a married couple?
Desi: We are almost always working! There's no clock on, clock off button. Although, Im considering building one near the front door!
Cody: It can be tough to separate our work from our relationship. It can cause extra tension that maybe other marriages don't have.
What are some advantages?
Desi: Okay, I'm going to be super lame for a second! Getting to fall in love over and over again with my passion and my partner. It's strange we can be at each others throats seconds before starting, and then the music plays and it all just washes away. I get to find my strength in him every time I get nervous or mess up!
Cody: Getting to share the stage with your wife is a magical experience that can't really be explained easily. It's just something that I never really understood until I started playing with Desi.
Jenn: Cody, you host singer-songwriter nights at the Colony—can you tell us about
what you like most about being on the host side of things?
Cody: I really enjoy watching new talent develop and grow into great artists. I've watched people like Robert Hoefling, Dan Martin, Rachel La Vonne work their way up into the scene here in town, and really begin to thrive.
Jenn: You all released your E.P. "In The Dead of Summer" and we're hoping to hear more from you! What can we expect from your upcoming album/projects?
Desi: Its definitely going to sound different from our previous EPs. I was kinda nervous to share a lot of our new songs with fans but luckily we've had a great response so far!
Cody: Most of the last year and a half has been a lot of the less interesting business side of the music thing that really isn't that fun to talk about...haha. We have been developing business relationships that led into a licensing deal with the Little Brother Music, which is a company we are really happy to be working with. Also, we were able to find a publicist to work with to help spread word about the album. We are also putting together a West Coast Tour to promote the album in August. The good news is, now that most of that boring work is almost finished... I'm going to be using the next few months to finish a lot of songs and get started on the writing/production process for our next album.
What do you think the pros are when it comes to in-home recording?
Desi: It allows us to play around a little more with songs and really develop ideas.
Cody: Way more budget friendly, and you get to take control of your own music. Take the time to develop the songs and execute them with confidence. Sometimes a professional studio can be an intimidating place, especially when you are on the clock and tracking vocals.
What do you dislike about musically working from home?
Desi: Hahaha, OH, where do I begin?!? Cody is addicted to working! I swear! Hes like a little mad scientist in there at all hours of the night. When I was working a day job it would keep me up but now its not so bad. The only time it gets difficult recording at home is when the dogs are barking!
Cody: It's akin to the being married to your musical partner thing. It's hard to keep work and home apart. When I was working on the album it got to the point to where Desi had to put a sign on the door to the room I use for my studio that said: "NO STUDIO TODAY!!!!" I honestly almost lost it. I was getting obsessed. Eventually, when it comes to making a record, you just have to say "That's it. It's done. I have to let it go."
Jenn: Desi, you used to have stage fright, is that correct? How have you overcome
that and grown into a professional performer?
Desi: Oh, I dont think stage fright ever fully goes away! Its funny, one day I'll think I'm over it, and then I get crazy anxious for the silliest reasons! I will say a few things that have helped me with my nerves....one is just being more forgiving of myself. I used to be really hard on myself if I messed up. Second, finding my friends or family in the crowd and knowing they would still be there no matter what. Third, I know it sounds bad (and it probably is, hah!) but I do enjoy a nice glass of bubbly pregame/during! ha you cant have a bad time when your feeling bubbly! Fourth and Finally, I've learned to stay true to myself and be thankful for the moment I'm in!
Jenn: You are considered part of the “New Tulsa Sound”—can you tell us more
about where you feel the Tulsa music scene is headed?
Desi: I think Tulsa is on it way for great things! The amount of cultural events and support for the arts popping up is so exciting! I remember when the Woody Guthrie Center first opened and they hired a bunch of us to play on the Guthrie Green. They not only helped expose the community to our music but they helped create a gathering space for everyone to celebrate music, food, art, yoga, hola hooping, you name it! The best part is most of the events are free and the bands/artist still get paid!!!
Cody: It's funny. I feel like a music community is around long before the titles come along. Titles like that are silly, but I suppose they are necessary. Having said that, I have watched the scene grow and change over the past 18 years alot!! When I first started playing in Tulsa it was 1998, and it was WAY different. Downtown was a GHOST TOWN. I mean, noone went there. It was like a Zombie Apocalypse or something.. HA!!! By the early 2000's it was primarily a Rap Metal Scene with very few venues outside of The Other Side, Curly's at The East End, The Eclipse, and a handful of others. Man has that changed!! Now we have all kinds of music venues like The Guthrie Green, The Colony, Fassler Hall, Soundpony, The Vanguard, Mercury Lounge, and on and on and on. It seems like a new bar, restaurant, or music venue is opening every day in Tulsa!! And I keep seeing more and more great new talent pop up!! Also, the talent that has been around for a while seems to really be starting to get around... John Moreland, BRONCHO, and a few others are really starting to emerge on the national scene.
Jenn: What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
Desi: Seeing the Country and going ALL in! Cody and I have made a commitment to really shoot for the stars this go around! We are going to be touring our tails off and promoting. Regardless of what happens you cant say we didn't try :)
Cody: Releasing and Touring to promote the new album. I'm so ready to get this thing out there!!