Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Dogwood Last

Photo courtesy of Dogwood Last Facebook page.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based folk/indie electronic outfit Dogwood Last recently dropped the new video for their single “BONNIE (Redux),” a reimagined “stripped-down” version of their lead single from their 2018 debut record ‘Time Follows.’

According to the band, the flexibly interpretative song “explores classic themes such as time, forbidden love and sense of place through imagery that’s both hyper specific and comfortably opaque.”

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with the band – composed of members Kory Burrell, Jesse Morvan, Matt Jernigan and Skyler Hagner – about the new video and more.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Kory Burrell – I think the thing we’re all drawn to most in the music we love is the element of surprise. Not necessarily in the sense of big, dramatic moments — but in the small details as well. Maybe it’s an interesting use of programmed drums, obscure voicing in the harmony, or some abnormal application of delay or reverb or some effect. I think we’re all collectively drawn towards those types of subtleties.  With our own songs, we generally try to approach music-making with total openness – no rules. Throw all ideas at the thing. Best idea wins. With this project, the songwriting and production tend to happen at the same time and therefore, heavily inform each other. We all come from jazz backgrounds, so improvisation is a key component as well. This kind of process lends to a blurring of boundaries – between genres, emotional tones, sonic styling, etc., which I think inherently creates a lot of opportunity to construct and/or discover unique details or surprises, so I think it’s this element of surprise we’re chasing in not only the music we listen to, but the music we make.

Jesse Morvan – What excites me most about this project is how honest the music feels, while also being loud and exciting. “Electro-folk” as we call it. You can take any of these songs and put them on an acoustic guitar and piano and they will work just as well as their full versions. It’s hard to find music these days that depicts both ends of the spectrum so well.

Music Bugle – What is the biggest challenge in being a musical group?

Matt Jernigan – Finding the time to just exist as a band and let things be organic.

Kory Burrell – Yeah, the group is currently spread out across multiple states and cities.

Skyler Hagner – Working on new music and rehearsing is always extra challenging because of that and because we don’t get to see each other a lot, the first couple of hours are more a hang and love fest each time we get together. Thankfully, Jern always has notes and keeps us on track!

Music Bugle – How did you decide the band name?

Kory Burrell – The name of the project came somewhat randomly back in 2014. Jesse and I were playing together in another band prior to Dogwood. When that band dissolved, I started kind of privately working on new music. A lot of the subject matter of the material at the time centered around my family, so I started saving all the files as “Dogwood Last” ’cause I grew up on a street called “Dogwood Circle” and I was the last kid in my immediate family. The name just kind of stuck.

Music Bugle – What was your goal for the “BONNIE (Redux)” video?

Kory Burrell – The animator – Juliet Bryant – really conceptualized the whole thing, but in its most simplest essence, we wanted to explore liminal the space between digital and organic. Reflect the production elements of the song in a more visceral visualization, while hopefully demystifying the song a little bit.

Music Bugle – How would you compare your newer material to your earliest music?

Matt Jernigan – More varied in influence.

Kory Burrell – Yeah, I feel like I’ve been saying this quite a bit lately, but the “voice” of the project has definitely expanded a bit. I think the breadth and depth of the sound and subjects are widening and deepening and we’re trying to lean a bit more in to our varied backgrounds to hopefully find some new territory.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Brooklyn to someone who has never been there before? 

Skyler Hagner – 2 a.m. Bourbon sweet teas at Skinny Dennis.

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