Ben Morris and Kayti Korte make up the Montana-based indie-pop duo Desperate Electric, and earlier this year they caught our attention when they released their soulful, genre-blending tune ‘Karaoke’. They’ve just returned with another smashing song called ‘Stay’, and we at Indie Top 39 get the feeling that they’re onto something quite sonically special. Chatting to us about how they first met, how their band name came about, and what their plans are for the future, please give a big welcome to Desperate Electric.
Welcome, Desperate Electric! We’re so excited to introduce you (again) to our ever-growing audience today! I know that it’s been quite a journey to get to where you are today. Could you tell us about how you met and a little bit more about DASH?
We met in college at Montana State University in Bozeman. We were both music majors and in choir. Ben has been in bands his whole life. Middle school bands, high school bands, college bands. When we graduated college, I joined one of Ben’s bands. We began writing songs together and formed DASH. DASH was our first vision. A four-piece soul/rock band. We started playing shows, wrote and recorded our first album, and went on our first tour within six months of forming. Our main goal was and has always been to pursue this as full-time as possible, and tour a lot because we love playing shows. The further we pushed the project, the harder it was to keep other band members around. A little over a year after we formed we stripped the project down to the two of us, reworked our sound, and continued to pursue this as aggressively as we could.
It feels like I’ve been speaking to more and more duos who are in romantic relationships as well. We’re always intrigued about how that dynamic shapes the music that you write and create?
We were in a romantic relationship first, so I think that definitely influences how we work together. We’ve gone through phases, where the music we write really reflects who we are together, and then also times that we find our independence within that. You write what you know, so obviously, our relationship is a component of that, but we’ve also really evolved with our own voices, and I think combining our own perspectives, plus our together perspective is a really unique point of view.
My introduction to your music was when I first heard ‘Karaoke’. Instantly, there was just a fresh and unique feel to your sound that hit me straight away. Do you remember the song’s “birth” so to speak?
The birth was fondly looking back on our start as a couple and a musical project, tinted through the lens of the pandemic having just started. Spurring increased levels of nostalgia and angsty-ness, while still tucking it into a smooth, jazzy, and happy song.
Last month you dropped another ridiculously good single called ‘Stay’. After having it on repeat for a few days, I thought to myself “I really want to interview them!” I’m so glad you obliged. How proud are you of the track and what does it ultimately mean to you?
We love ‘Stay’. We’ve been really refining our sound and our voices, as well as just working to create the music we want to listen to. ‘Stay’ absolutely accomplishes that. We really feel like we’re finally hitting our stride. ‘Stay’ feels very “us”. There are elements of it that feel similar to the songs we first started writing together, but the cool, new version. It’s a true mark of growth and progression for us as artists.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences? Who did you grow up listening to? And would you say that your tastes have changed over the years?
Ben: My music taste is pretty eclectic, but I’d say my main influences are Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain, and Frank Ocean. Each one of those three represents a pivotal point in music for me, and they serve as the foundations for three of my biggest musical “phases” in life, points at which I was most impressionable. They’ve landed me with a compositional style that I feel to be a unique combination of soul/rock/R&B/funk and a general desire for new and outside-of-the-box genre-mashing and instrumentation.
Kayti: My main musical influences span a pretty wide berth. I grew up listening to primarily country music, sprinkled in with some classic rock, and pop. When I was in middle school I started down the classical music path and did that through college, so I would say classical music has influenced me quite a bit. My tastes have definitely changed over the years and I think I’ve really developed a much greater appreciation for all genres.
I’m a sucker for having to know the origins of a band’s name or an artist’s moniker. How exactly did Desperate Electric come about?
Our second tour as DASH was an absolute disaster. Our drummer quit two weeks before the tour, and we were already working on getting a new bassist up to speed. We hired a drummer to come with us and sent him all of our recordings, plus demos of all of the songs to learn. He promised he could learn them, but he arrived knowing not even one full song. We just couldn’t hit the road like that. Two days before our first show, Ben put his production skills to work and started creating backing drum tracks for all of our songs. We hit the road as a three-piece with backing tracks. Some of our songs really felt good leaning into that vibe. A bit more pop, a bit more electronic. We were driving through Phoenix and I had the idea that we should “memorialize” this tour by recording a little EP of the songs that sounded great produced in that way.
We were playing around with names for the EP, and Ben came up with Desperate Electric since we were going electronic out of sheer desperation.desperate electric
When we moved away from the four-piece band structure, we felt disconnected from the name DASH. In early 2020 we rebranded, and the only name we connected to was Desperate Electric.
We’re always intrigued with artists’ creative processes, and how they take an idea and transform it into a finished product. Could you tell us a bit about your creative process?
I don’t think we have one, really linear, creative process. Because we have two songwriters, the process looks a bit different every time. I would say most typically somebody has an initial melodic idea, maybe a verse and/or hook, and then brings it to the other person to help flush it out and craft the song. Sometimes we sit down and write together, completely from scratch. I think that helps us write a lot because we don’t have one method and it’s easier to continue to have ideas when you’re constantly changing your creative process.
OK, guys – desert island time! You’re each allowed to grab just 2 albums before being stranded on a desert island. Which do you go for?
Kayti: Ohhh that’s so hard! If I had to choose just two I would pick Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan. I do not get sick of those records.
Ben: Hands down, Abbey Road by The Beatles and Channel Orange by Frank Ocean.
What is the best piece of musical advice that you’ve ever been given that you’d like to pass on to others?
To find your voice and be confident in that. I think there’s a lot of pressure to be “something”, whatever that is. More commercial, more whatever.
But the most rewarding thing is to truly make music that you love, regardless of what’s currently selling, or what you think people will like.desperate electric
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that “without music, life would be a mistake.” What would your lives be like without music?
We truly can’t imagine our lives without music. Not only do we both feel so pulled to create, but we can’t imagine not consuming music as well. Creating, performing, and consuming music makes life much more magical, and transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
What, to you, is music’s role in society?
Music is and has always been a really powerful tool in human connection. I think that’s the main role – whether you’re making a political statement, or a personal lament about lost love, the goal is to use your own experiences, or a shared experience, to connect with other people, and let them know they’re not alone in whatever they’re going through.
You’re allowed to collaborate with one musician or band. Who do you choose and why?
I (Ben) would totally collaborate with Andy Samberg. I love a good overly sexual joke song!
Thank you so much for chatting with us today guys! What can we expect next from Desperate Electric? And in a broader sense, what do you hope your musical future looks like?
Thank you! We’re really excited to announce that our next album, What Do You Want, will be out on September 9th. You can expect two more singles before the album’s release, and we’ll be headed out on a big release tour this fall.
Our goal is to continue creating music, connecting with people, and growing our audience!desperate electric
We added Desperate Electric’s single ‘Stay’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!