We first met Dakota Loesch on tour in St. Louis many moons ago. He, and his band Animal City, were an eccentric bunch who had an infectious gusto for life and telling cheap jokes. Over the years, we’ve tried to keep in touch, mostly as fanboys do with their favorite band, and have been deeply inspired by his various creative projects. Most recently, Dakota has blessed us with ‘Beer Money’, a collection of his poems, and has been kind enough to share a few slices of wisdom with us. Photo cred: GlitterGuts.
– For those who don’t know, tell us who you are, what is “Beer Money”, and why did my copy come with a receipt for a beer purchase?
Dakota Loesch. Depending on who you ask, I’m either an Interdisciplinary Artist or a Bullshit Artist, which (either way) means I do a little bit of everything…
I’m a founding member of the Chicago rock outfit Animal City (ANIMALCITY.BANDCAMP.COM), a co-founder of the film production company Artful Enough Pictures (WWW.ARTFULENOUGHPICTURES.COM)
BEER MONEY is my first collection of poems, 27 of them to be exact, about movies & dreams & making-out & sexy stuff & life & death & beers & drugs & love & heartache & all that good stuff. And the liquor store receipt it came with is kinda my version of a Works Cited Page for this book.
– Your writing can be a bit… shocking? How much of what you write is autobiographical?
100% and 0%. I know that sounds like a cop-out via bad math but it’s the best way I can describe it. All the things I write about I’ve run-into in my life, one way or another. But not every poem that says “I” is autobiographical. And some of the most personal pieces have narrators or characters that’re completely different than me in my actual day-to-day life. But I think it’s fun to build a reputation over the years for writing hyper-personal shit and then getting to fuck with that idea by using it against the reader… like, “Fuck, do you think he actually did that?” That’s what gets me going lately.
– What is your creative process like? How do you write a poem / song, how long does it take, where do you like to be, what state of mind are you in, etc.?
It happens at all different times and I can never predict it. But when the proverbial spout is on I do my best to grab a proverbial bucket. In a dream scenario, I like to take a hit and sip some beers and have a couple-few cigs, let myself take a little staycation in my own brain. And if I can do it from the comfort of bed? Then all the better.
– Is there such thing as writer’s block / what is it?
Sometimes it comes easier than others. But I don’t think it ever stops or screeches to a halt completely. Sometime the pen’s on paper less often than I like. But I’m always working through stories. And I think if you’re a creative type then your brain is never off the clock.
– Tell us about your project “All My Secrets”, how did it start / why do you do it / what is it turning into?
All My Secrets is a street performance piece and social experiment I’ve been doing for the last few years. Basically, I sell my deepest darkest secrets to random strangers on the street for $1 a pop. Actual secrets, nothing made-up, secrets I never repeat again once sold. My favorite part of the project is something I didn’t expect: occasionally people will tell me their secrets without me even asking them. And partially because of that, I’ve decided to adapt All My Secrets into a feature length film. Shooting starts during the summer. And if you got a secret to share? Get at me.
– What’s going on with Animal City?
Animal City just finished our 3rd full-length LP “Bump Head Go Home” and it will be available on vinyl from Sophomore Lounge Records in August. We’ll also have a tour in August to support that new record, and rumor has it that our tour cousins State Champion might jump aboard to hit the road with us. Please pray for my liver. But hell yeah, I’m real excited for y’all to hear this new one. Rock ‘n Roll record as hell. Keep an ear out for it… (WWW.SOPHOMORELOUNGERECORDS.
– How is the writing process different from your poetry, to Animal City, to other projects? / Do collaborate with Sal often?
Well, poetry and fiction and screenplays are where I get to do the whole “writer on their own” shtick. Animal City is definitely writing by committee, we all contribute parts and ideas and lyrics and licks. Usually, Sal or I will bring in a song or the beginnings of a song that we can all build on. Sometimes me and Sal write tunes together. Sometimes the whole band writes one from the ground up. We’re constantly finding new ways to collaborate, keeps us interested. But yeah, Salvatore Cassato is my longest running creative collaborator. Unless you count my mom taking dictation for the wild west sheriff stories I came up with as a five-year-old. Hi Mom!
– Will Animal City stay together when you move to LA?
You bet your ass we will. Fact is that Animal City ain’t going away. There’s nothing to gain from breaking up, so why ever break-up? We have too much fun making tunes and gigging around together. So now is an exciting time to be watching us, to see how this thing grows and changes and becomes bigger. West Coast tour is the next big goal on the horizon, so being in LA seems too logical. I’m starting to split my years between Chicago and LA. No more midwestern winters for awhile, 27 in a row was enough for me.
– Do you think drugs / vices help or hinder your creativity?
Depends on the drug or the vice. Depends what I’m trying to get done. Being stoned definitely makes looking at a computer screen for 10 hours straight while editing movies a lot more pleasurable. Having a beer or two makes the 8 hour drive to the next show a lot easier. I definitely ain’t gonna shoot junk and try to write the next great american novel, though.
– Why do you create art?
I seriously don’t know what else to do. If I’m not making movies, writing books, singing songs, telling stories? If I’m not chasing those experiences and people in this life that make me feel enough feelings to tell my stories? If all of that goes away, if all of that is gone, then what is life? Maybe that’s it: making this stuff helps me remember that death is around the corner, but I still ain’t dead yet. And If that ain’t a good enough reason to crack open a beer then I don’t know what is.