Nashville’s Okey Dokey are returning to Savannah this week with a new album.
Comprised of visual artist Aaron Martin and The Weeks’ guitarist Johny Fisher, the duo, along with an ever shifting cast of back-up players, produce sunny, psychedelic pop with shades of chillwave and Motown. The band released their debut album, “Love You, Mean It,” in 2017 and have been touring continuously ever since, including an appearance at the 2018 Savannah Stopover Music Festival.
Their 2018 follow-up, “Tell All Your Friend,” is an endearingly warm and catchy album that features a van-load of collaborators including Rayland Baxter, Nick Bockrath (Cage the Elephant), Liz Cooper, Erin Rae McKaskle, and Caleb Hickman (Houndmouth).
Aaron Martin answered some questions about the new album and Okey Dokey’s return to El-Rocko Lounge on April 12 in the following interview:
Do: What bands were you guys in before forming Okey Dokey? How did you get together?
Aaron Martin: “Johny, Jeremy and I all played in a band called Sol Cat in our early 20s. I left that project in 2014 to focus on art. A few years later I started playing under Kneel Jung for fun.
“Sol Cat disbanded around then and Johny asked if I felt like taking a swing at putting a band together. I had never been asked to do that before, so I just went for it. It all feels like it fell into place smoothly at this point, but it was definitely a long process, finding ourselves and establishing a base to tour on. The music came easy, but you have to do so much more. We played around 200 dates our first year and 95 percent of that was us hustling without booking help.
How did you develop your sound? Do you have specific influences?
“I am a visual artist first and that has been my biggest tool for making music. It is difficult sometimes when working with other people who don’t think the way I do, but I find the best way to explain a sonic atmosphere is with a scene.
“The other day [Jeremy Clark] and I were working on a new song and the only way I could describe what I wanted was to ask for ‘me on a glass piano in the middle of absolute nothing.’ He knew what I meant.
“I’ll also say that it is easier to see a place in a song because when something is off or bad it’s because your character would never be there in the first place. The character is you and if you ever feel unlike yourself, you are writing bull**** music. Turn back now.”
What was it like to record “Tell All Your Friend”? Where did you record it? Is it self-produced?
“We always record here and there. As a final step, Johny, Jeremy and I make it all sound like us through a final mix. Jeremy Clark gets the most credit there. We tried writing a few songs on a boat in Baltimore in the wintertime, but we couldn’t stop being pirates. That was bad.
“When you try to work with so many people, you all kinda produce the whole time. I am the funnel it all goes through, but we rapidly dissect ideas together and move on. Songs should be fast and fun.”
You have a lot of creative friends who helped with the album. What do you like about collaborating with other artists?
“I am honestly just so interested in people that I could do this forever. I could live the rest of my life on a bench in a busy area. I feel that way now, but all of the passersby are ambitious and inspiring. We are working on our biggest collaborative effort, yet, right now. Every song is vastly different and all so special because of the artists we are bringing in. I am having the time of my life right now.”
You played El-Rocko Lounge in Savannah before. How was that gig for you and what can we expect from next week’s show?
“It was the jam. It’s been a while so I’m a little fuzzy though. You’ll have to show us a good time, I suppose. You can expect a new version of the band in which I will be playing my brand new Goldfinch Kensington II.
“I wasn’t going to play guitar with Okey Dokey, but Goldfinch gifted me a guitar when we were in Philly with Rayland, and we decided it belonged on stage, in our band, and for sure on my body. Happy shredddddddddding, y’all.