‘Dance your troubles away:’ Butte R&B duo Desperate Electric celebrate new record with Billings show |
Desperate Electric is not just a band. They are an atmosphere.
When band members Kayti Korte and Ben Morris take the stage, something overwhelms them. Soon it also infects the public.
Korte plays bass and vocals, while Morris handles production, keyboards, guitar and vocals. They’re two-piece, but that doesn’t limit the amount of noise they can make. And you’ll find entire orchestras that give off less energy than those two when they start.
It all starts with composition. Korte and Morris aren’t just musical partners, they’re also romantic partners. Korte, who was born in Billings and raised in Laurel, met Morris, an Idaho native, at Montana State University in Bozeman.
They got engaged last November and are planning a wedding in a year. They have been together for six years and have been making music under the name Desperate Electric for four.
Music has always had meaning for them. Korte and Morris first met in choir class.
“I was enchanted [with music] from an early age,” Morris recalls.
You can hear it in their music. The duo’s latest album, “What Do You Want”, was released on Friday, September 9. It’s full of classic blue-eyed soul and the kind of tight R&B that can only be done by students of the genre.
Desperate Electric calls their music “electro soul”, although they resist attempts to categorize their sound into a genre.
“We really dabble in a lot of different genres – funk, R&B, soul, a bit of rock, pop, alternative,” Korte said. “Literally everything.”
Time has shaped these two. Not just their music, but their whole life. After graduating, they lived in Bozeman for a few years, but eventually felt the need to change.
“In the summer of 2019 we decided to give up our house,” Korte said. They got into a van, determined to tour full time and, as Korte said, “just send it.”
It was a good plan. Until the pandemic.
“We kind of got caught with our pants down,” Morris said.
They found salvation in an unlikely place. In 2020, they buy a house in Butte.
“We showed up at the right time,” Morris said. “You know, growing up, it was like, ‘Ew, Butte, disgusting.’ But now I love Butte.
As the cost of living increases in other places in Montana, Butte is becoming an attractive location for local artists.
“There are a lot of people who move here so they can pursue their artistic endeavors because they can’t afford to do it anywhere else,” Korte said. “Butte provides that, and I think it will continue to grow.”
With a property of their own, Morris and Korte built a recording studio above their garage. This is where all of their music from 2020 onwards was recorded. It’s rare for an independent band to have that kind of flexibility. They can do their job exactly the way they want to do it.
Morris is one hell of a producer, with an ability to make beats that sound busy yet clean, lived-in and intimate. Her whole aura carries a feeling of freshness, from her long locks of wavy brown hair to her soft voice. Korte is a live wire, with a voice that sounds like a melodic air raid siren.
“I’m definitely not a folk singer,” Morris admitted. “I don’t tell stories per se. I just like to capture vibes.
But there is a story here that can be followed through “What Do You Want”. It’s a record made by people who really, really love each other.
“I knew it all along, you were gonna steal my heart,” Morris sings on the slinky “Karaoke.”
“Toasty” is a peppy come-on, with the pair trading flirty verses. “You can feel the heat,” Korte sings.
She’s right. Part of the fun of Desperate Electric is the feeling of experiencing two people who are crazy about each other. It’s contagious. Desperate Electric are so in love they make you want to fall in love too.
“[Sensuality] is the most musical concept for me to write about,” Morris said.
With “What Do You Want” dropping on Friday, they’re ready for the next steps.
“Sometimes I feel like we’ve been doing this forever and I’m exhausted,” Korte said.
“But the next minute I feel like we’ve just started,” Morris added.
They’re celebrating the release of this album with a kind of throwback show at Thirsty Street Garage on Friday.
The location in downtown Billings is one of their favorite spots.
“I remember when it was Yellowstone Valley Brewing,” Korte said, mentioning a particularly memorable Kitchen Dwellers show she attended at the Garage. “I’ve been seeing music there for 15 years.”
Desperate Electric’s music is fun and technicolor. But all is not rosy. There is work here. Morris and Korte spent countless hours in the studio and around 300 live shows perfecting their craft. And that’s just on the music side.
“Love takes work,” Korte said, “whether it’s in a relationship, or just a friendship or other partnerships in your life. It takes work, but it’s worth it. And we we can just have a dance party about it.
“Dance your problems,” Morris suggested.
“We’re all in this together,” Korte said.
“With honesty, communication and understanding,” Morris added. “And love.”
“Yeah,” Korte added. “To like.”