Photo: Alexandra Johnson

Introducing: Dakota Jones

Funk and soul band Dakota Jones entered the music scene in 2021 with a sound that was commanding, familiar, and fresh. They were able to harness the inspirations like Chaka Khan and Marvin Gaye and give it their own modern twist. For lead singer Tristan Carter-Jones, stardom was always in the cards, and her passion for the music she makes with fellow bandmates Scott Jet Kramp, Steve Ross, and Eddy Marshall is clear in each song, especially the band’s latest single, “Dissent ‘n’ Gin.”

“I have been singing for as long as I can remember,” Carter-Jones recalled. “Singing’s always been my great love and it’s always been my greatest passion. It’s been calling me for as long as I can remember.” 

Before the band formed, Carter-Jones wrote music on her own and first released music in 2015 as a solo artist, but didn’t put out music again until she was a part of the band. “It’s funny because music is the thing that I care about the most, but for a time, it was also my greatest fear to get on a stage and perform. That was just something that I kind of had to beat out of myself and It took a lot to finally get onstage.” 

Prior to forming Dakota Jones, Carter-Jones knew drummer Steve Ross since she was eight years old. She recalled when she lived in New York after college, that she was invited to a jam session with Ross and a mutual friend shortly after he moved to the city.

”They asked me to come join them to do covers and stuff like that. And my first instinct was to say, ‘Fuck now I’m not doing that, I’m not I’m not gonna hang out with you guys and perform covers.’ But eventually, they roped me in and it was kind of like blowing off steam on the weekends and just performing together. Until one day we randomly just wrote a song together. And from that moment, it was kind of like, oh, this is what we’re supposed to be doing. We brought in a bassist and just never really stopped making music from then on.” 

Whether she’s writing songs with the band or on her own, Carter-Jones’ songwriting comes from a deeply personal place, and working with the band allowed her to dig deeper and open up more through the music they make together. That trust and friendship between everyone in Dakota Jones is also reflected in their songs as well. 

“Every time I’m sharing a new song, it’s still scary to me,” she says. “But definitely collaboration and working with the boys has allowed me to dig deeper into who I am, what I want to talk about, and what I want things to sound like. It’s allowed me to learn more about myself and that way, learn more about us as a group.”

Their most recent single “Dissent ‘n’ Gin” is most different from the music that the band put out so far and is Carter-Jones’ favorite music that they’ve put out. The song strays away from the band’s typically smooth and easygoing vibe and is a salute to the classic hip-hop of the 90s. In the press release for the single, the band explains that “’Dissent ’n’ Gin’ is a jewelry heist in all black leather, and it goes off without a hitch. You came for the jewels but you stayed for the feeling of immaculate power that’s surging through your blood, exerting that power seamlessly.”

While making music with the band tends to come easy for Carter-Jones, “Dissent ‘n’ Gin” came just as naturally during the writing princess.“It just started as a jam with the boys and then I started writing. And I remember, I wrote the first kind of melody and then stopped for a bit and felt a little bit stuck. I wish I could remember what possessed me to be like ‘you need to start rapping, like you need to start spitting bars here,’ but it worked.” 

While visuals aren’t usually something that comes to the band when writing a song, the visuals for “Dissent ‘n’ Gin” came pre-packaged. “‘We wanted this to represent the mood of the song,” they explain in the press release for the single. “It’s smooth on the outside yet something sinister lurks within the sound. You’re running from something you can’t see, you might not even know what it is, but you’re trying to get ahead of it. In the end, escape is impossible.” 

“Dissent ‘n’ Gin” is out now and available on all music streaming services.