Soul music—a genre synonymous with places like Memphis, Detroit, Chicago, and…Des Moines? That’s right, y’all. Des Moines, Iowa has a thriving arts community which is home to my new favorite blue-eyed soul outfit, The Maytags, who will release their debut full-length record, Love Lines, on July 1st. “What’s happening here is super unique; there have always been artists doing here, but there’s been a revitalization in the last few years,” says frontman Dustin Smith. “There’s a warm sense of community here. Old warehouses are being turned into living spaces, sculpture gardens are springing up around town, artists from all over the world come here for the prestigious annual Des Moines Arts Festival, and we host four or five huge music festivals every year.”
Iowa native Smith ventured to New York City for college to study music, an experience which changed him on a fundamental level. “It was a lot different than Des Moines,” he laughs. “I studied drums early on, and started playing jazz. I wanted a place where I could bunker down and play drums all hours of the day, so I headed to New York after graduation. It was an eye opener; in Des Moines, there’s a mentality of ‘everything is what it is’, and you get to New York and it redefines absolutely everything about being a person. It’s a working city, people go there to work. It inspired me to get aggressive about writing music and honing my skills”
The jazz devotee was in groups that toured the northeast, but realized that jazz bands are often relegated to corners of restaurants with no one listening. “I wasn’t really happy there, so I decided to move back to Des Moines. My original goal was to come back for a few months and regroup, release some stuff, and I ended up falling in love with it all over again,” he explains. ”That was 6 years ago.”
Iowa is an open canvas; there aren’t a lot expectations for musicians to sound a certain way, or to create a specific type of music, making it easier to find your own voice and individual style as an artist. When Smith set up camp in Des Moines, he found his voice, or as he says, it found him. “Soul definitely found me; I don’t think I could write or perform music that didn’t come from an honest place. I used to write acoustic, folky songs when I was playing in the jazz bands. I put out an EP when I moved back, it was kind of a depressing album, and people weren’t responding like they did in New York,” he laughs. “I decided I wanted to rock out, to bring more energy to things.” Smith was enticed by the attitude of soul, the honesty of the lyrics, and the genre’s rich history. “There is room in that realm to push it in so many different ways and make it sound the way you want it to,” he says.
Now, the Maytags are gearing up to release Love Lines; chock full of groovy ear worms with a fresh, yet retro vibe, the album was recorded at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville and invokes the sprits of Motown, Stax, and Daptone. The debut’s tracks bear the grit of life’s experiences, and make you truly believe that heartbreak is worth the trouble. The soul collective has plans to tour several regions of the country this fall, so keep an eye on their socials for updates!
Pre-order Love Lines: http://www.themaytags.com/merch-1