January 30 2019

Annie O Presents: Dey

New York-Standard Sounds
Dey is a project belonging to artist & choreographer Tara-Jo Tashna and producer Stephen Hill. They began collaborating on music over a decade ago when they met while attending high school in Hoboken, NJ. They’ve presented their work at MoMA PS1, Las Cruxes, Secret Project Robot, and the Park Church co-op, among others, and self-released their debut EP ‘Lust Spells’ in February of last year. Their sound is intimate and personal, building off the shared sounds and experiences of their friendship to create a sound both invitingly familiar and distinctly theirs.

Why the name Dey? What does it mean?

The name Dey doesn’t have a specific meaning. We cycled through a number of titles before settling on the name Dey a few years ago, and it was the one that immediately felt the most natural. The initial appeal was maybe its closeness to “they” — a simple way to address two people — but distorted enough to remain ambiguous. Our approach to self-presentation has always straddled the line of accessibility and inaccessibility — our music and performances invite people into our world, which is very intimate and personal, but we haven’t released a lot of music and don’t necessarily feel the need to explain to people exactly what it is we’re doing. Unfortunately, there’s another Dey on Spotify and that’s been ambiently annoying in distributing our music. 

What can we expect from your performance as part of the Annie O Music Series?

Our live shows shift between pretty moody r&b, more house-inflected sounds, and denser sonic experimentation; our set on Thursday is pretty much a survey of everything we’ve been up to.

How did you two meet? When did you start making music together? 

We met while attending high school in Hoboken, NJ back in 2003. It was a super, super small school so we knew each other but didn’t really become friends until a few years later. At some point we bonded over 90s trip hop and whatever clubbier sounds were around in NYC/on the internet at the time. We first musically linked up through these silly concerts the school held for its newspaper that Stephen would get way too precious about making high production and bringing all these live electronics into. Eventually we started recording shit together in the school’s kitchen during free periods and going out to shows in Brooklyn and now here we are! 


 

Since the roots of the project go back to our upbringing in New Jersey & are so linked to our relationship as friends, it exists more in a space of its own that can be carried from location to location

As people living in and regularly performing around Brooklyn, do you consider the project to be intrinsically tied to New York City?

Since the roots of the project go back to our upbringing in New Jersey & are so linked to our relationship as friends, it exists more in a space of its own that can be carried from location to location. Because it’s where we live and have spent the most time performing, Brooklyn has also nurtured us in a lot of ways and is full of wonderful communities of people trying to pull up each other’s practices. 

You’re both artists outside of Dey. How does your work outside of the project influence your work as a band? 

Our live presence tends to morph from space to space and performance to performance based on how we feel. Tara's constantly writing and working on other performance-based projects and Stephen is constantly working on music, so this contributes to the material often being in flux.

As a duo, what is your creative process like?

We’ve been working together for such a long time that it’s a pretty organic process. A lot of the songs are tracks that Stephen sent to Tara that she wrote vocals for, and others built around snippets of vocal parts she's sent him. Sometimes the process is seamless and other times it requires a lot of cultivation. 

The Standard

If Dey was a drink what would it be?

Obviously the Matcha Haze cocktail at Narcbar! Or the 2012 Radikon ‘Oslavje’ that we drank to ring in the New Year ;)

What’s in the cards for Dey in 2019?

Tara’s relocating to Los Angeles for the first half of the year, so we’re planning to shift the tides and decentralize a bit. We’ve primarily operated on the east coast for so long, mostly in Brooklyn, so it feels important to branch out and focus more on site-specific performances around the country rather than continuing to frequent the same spaces and venues that we’ve been aligned with for so long. We’re currently finishing an EP we hope to release later in the year, as well as a handful of singles. We have a lot of material that we’re sitting on but it’s a long process figuring out how to do things the right way. We just filmed two music videos with a truly wonderful cast of humans that we’re very excited about. 

What are you currently listening to?

Tara doesn't listen to a ton of music, she's usually just cycling through old favorites that she’ll listen to for a month at a time. She’s been revisiting Martina Topley-Bird, Emiliana Torrini, Erykah Badu, Morcheeba, and Olive recently but not too long ago was only listening to D’Angelo. Right now, Stephen’s got the bass line from the intro to “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit stuck in his head but otherwise been listening to a lot Shinichi Atobe and that chill out track “See Thru You” by Flunk on repeat.

INTERVIEW BY
Annie O