Desi and Cody: An Interview

Musical duo Desi and Cody have played in the US and all over Europe. Their sophomore album Yes, This is Killing us from Horton Records came out this past October 2018. There sound is folky, rock and has a deep funky soul of a sound. Check out their latest work and see them at a venue near you.

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Yes, This is Killing Us - Album Artwork

Yes, This is Killing Us - Album Artwork

Desi (Left) Cody (Right) Courtesy of Desi and Cody

Desi (Left) Cody (Right) Courtesy of Desi and Cody

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Desirae Roses-Clinton but most people just call me Desi. I sing, write a little and I am a major animal lover!!! I help foster and find homes for animals in need!

I’m Cody Clinton. I write songs, play the guitar, and produce albums. I am also a live sound tech. I also love fishing and spending time camping and being outdoors.

What do you love about making music?

C: I love the creative process most. Writing songs. Helping others arrange and record songs they have written. Writing guitar and bass lines for my own as well as other people’s compositions. I also enjoy performing live, when the set and setting are right. Though, I think my favorite thing of all is that moment in the studio when you find that part that brings a song together.... sets it off. That moment when you think, “Hey, I think we may really have something here!”

D: Music has always been a part of me. I have been looking for places to sing and preform since I started walking! Ha Fireplaces were my preferred stage setting as a child. I lost that part of me somewhere in middle school and high school due to some mean girls and a super religious choir teacher of all things! Anyway, I kinda gave up on it and tried to find something else I was passionate about. When Cody and I first started collaborating we had already been a couple for nearly 3 years and I was an enormous fan of him! He made me fall in love with music again and helped me find my voice. My favorite part of all of this is when we are on stage and preforming together. No matter what hurdles we are facing, what silly fight we just had or how heavy the world seems before it all just melts away or we push through it together and end at a much better place! Music and preforming bring me peace and remind me of what matters.

How long did it take to record/produce the record?

C: Well, initially it only took a month or two to get together with our band, arrange the songs, then go to the studio and lay down the foundation of what would be the album. We were only in the studio for 3 days, and tracked live to tape. It was pretty quick, and felt great. We had an absolute blast doing it!!! Then... when we came home with the skeleton of an album... it kinda took a while to figure out how we were gonna put the meat on it. At first, we tried the usual stuff we would do... electric guitar, Steel guitar, B3 organ. All the stuff you would expect on a “Folk” album. But, at a certain point we realized that we never decided to be a folk band, ya know? People kept saying that we were, but it just never felt like it was a decision we had made. So we sat on it for a while. Took our time, and waited for inspiration. Inspiration ended up coming from the “Stranger Things” soundtrack. All those cool old synth tones. I also remember it wasn’t long after David Bowie had passed away... and we were listening to a lot of those albums he made in Berlin with Brian Eno. I didn’t have any synthesizers, nor did I know at the time what to do with one if I had one... haha. We searched around and ended up finding Chris Combs (JFJO/Combsy) for the job. The guy is insanely talented, and it seemed like he just got it. He some how knew exactly what I was going for, and he nailed it. So much so, that I felt compelled to share the producer hat with him. He also arranged horns and played some slide, and tracked my buddy John Calvin Abney as well. John played Wurlitzer and B3 on the album. In the end, I’d say it took about a year and a half from pre-production to mix. Part of that was slowed down by the need to do a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for mixing and mastering. We are very lucky to have such a supportive music community here in Tulsa.

Cody and Desi - Photography by London J Smothers

Cody and Desi - Photography by London J Smothers

Where is the coolest place you have performed?

C: Hmm. I mean, the coolest city would have to be Dublin, Ireland!!! We love that town, and have even considered moving there!! The coolest venue would have to be the legendary Cain’s Ballroom here in Tulsa, OK. We’ve seen so many great bands there... WilcoThe Black KeysAndrew BirdFoo Fighters... the list goes on and on. We love Cain’s.

D: I loved preforming in Europe! It was unreal and a wish come true for sure! There was a really special Chapel turned music venue in Holland. I remember drinking something called Geneva with the locals. I think it’s Dutch gin. After the first shot they looked at me and waited for my face to turn color ha but I actually liked it... so we had a few more for good measure! They fed us at most of our shows in Europe too. Not like bar or restaurant style either. They like made us home cooked meals! We sat with their families before each show and broke bread.

What song do you love the most and why? Any special connection to it?

C: Open Your Eyes. At the moment anyways. The song just really sums up the entire vibe of album and what we were trying to convey. It touches on the dark side of our lives, then moves into the light. I’ve always loved songs that did that... ones that kinda break you down before building you back up.

D: Well that changes for me every so often but right now it’s a toss up between Open Your Eyes and Mind is Gone. 

I am really connecting to those two songs with everything going on in the world today.

What genre of music do fit into? 

C: Alt-Folk. Or, some have said “futuristic folk.” I’d say we touch on Old Soul, and 60’s Brit Pop as well. Hell, sometimes we are bordering on Funk. It just depends on what mood we are in.

D: We have struggled with that question for awhile now but I believe we landed on a term our friend Matt coined for us, “futuristic folk”. I like it!  

What kinds of music or life are you influenced by to create your sound? 

C: All kinds of music. i listen to everything. Pop, Blues, Classical, Jazz, Punk Rock. I suppose the only thing I seek in music, or any art for that matter... is sincerity. When I’m listening to a band and it lacks fire or conviction... or ya know, it isn’t real? That’s the only kinda music I can’t get into. It’s the same way with people. I’d rather be around an honest madman, than a well-heeled phony. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. Sincerity is everything.

D: We pull inspiration from everywhere. We listen to music from all genres depending on our mood and we pull a lot from film.

How long have you been making music? 

C: I started my first band, Bliss, back in 1995. I was 13, and we all wanted to be Kurt Cobain... haha.

D: I have been musical for as long as I can remember. I would “sell” tickets which meant trade tickets to my shows at recess for pudding cups or fruit by the foot. Ha! I’d sing songs and dance around the hop scotch area of the playground. BUT I didn’t realize it was possible make it my path until like 2010....I think?!

What is the collaboration process like for you two? 

C: It’s kinda second nature at this point. I mean, we are married, so everything we do is a collaboration. We get along, we fight, we love each other, and we get angry at each other. Sometimes it’s really hard, and other times it’s quite easy. The longer we have been doing this, the easier it seems to avoid conflict. You kinda learn when to say something or when to keep your mouth shut. With Desi, the hardest part is just getting her to believe in herself creatively. We are kinda opposite that way... I am confident in creating, but no so confident in my singing. I feel it’s the other way around with her. We have really helped each other out that way. She’s becoming more open with her writing, and I’m getting less scared to sing more.

D: It took me a while to feel confident enough to share my ideas. As I said before, I was a fan of Cody for years and I just thought well what could I possibly think of that he doesn’t already know hahaha! Which was totally all in my head.... Cody has always been so supportive and excited to hear my ideas! I personally just didn’t feel like I knew what I was talking about so I’d just keep things to myself. Overtime that went away and now I find myself hearing parts, lyrics or melodies and just offering my two cents! I feel safe with Cody and not afraid to look stupid.(He’s stuck with me) 

D: But seriously, Cody is a killer songwriter and can take something I’ve said or thought and just create from it in seconds flat. Often times I start adding to things during the recording process once the bones of the song are in place. That’s when I start hearing things and feeling inspired!

Fun question

If you were stranded on an abandoned island what five items (no rules) would you take with you? 

Fishing Pole

Loaded Tackle Box 

Bowie Knife (For David Bowie Lol)

One of those survival straw things

Magnifying glass - Cody


Buttercup (our dogs) 

Cody....does that count as stranded?

Just Incase they don’t count as “items” with no rules....I suppose I’d bring a record collection, record player, a luxury glamping tent complete with all the comforts of home and oh one of those survival clean water straw things. -Desi 

Coffee or tea? 

Coffee. - Cody


Netflix or watching movies at the cinema? 

Netflix. - Cody


Vinyl or digital? 

Vinyl. - Cody