“We call it yacht pop,” says 28-year-old Dede Reynolds of Brooklyn duo Dede. Specifically, “it’s music for your yacht circa 1967 in the south of France.”
The self-proclaimed Francophile and her partner Tim Kvasnosky, 35, find influence in Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy, as well as trip hop and electronica bands such as Portishead and Air. “I really don’t listen to a lot of new music,” she says. When asked if there are any current pop stars she likes just a bit, without hesitation she says, “Is it wrong to say no?”
Asked about her own sound, she explains: “It’s definitely indie pop, but from a different sensibility, more like late Sixties Beach Boys mixed with French pop.”
For an artist so particular in her vision, it’s a bit curious to find out Reynolds didn’t even think about becoming a singer until about a year and a half ago. She first met Kvasnosky while she was working in Los Angeles as an art director and was asked to help on a few of the projects he was working on as a record producer. The pair eventually started a long-distance relationship. Before long, Reynolds was bound for New York, where Kvasnosky supplemented his production work with a job as a commercial jingle composer.
“One day he said, ‘I need someone to sing on this spot,’” she recalls, noting he had only heard her sing around the house. “I enjoyed singing but I just wasn’t thinking of pursuing it.” They collaborated again when an offer for an ad for Purina’s Friskies cat food came along a few months later. The result was the psychedelic “Adventureland” campaign, which began airing in early 2010 and was soon a viral sensation. The pair had already toyed around with the idea of doing a project together, so they reworked some of their outtakes and posted them on MySpace. After writing songs in St. Martin with Kvasnosky “over rum punch and sunsets,” they recorded a six-track EP with him on piano and organ, and session musicians on drums and bass. They plan to release the work this summer, either on their own or through one of the record labels that have shown interest.
“Tim is the mad scientist, I’m the face of it all,” Reynolds says. “I carry two hats in this band — I’m the voice, but I also produce all the imagery.”
A former film school student, Reynolds is the unofficial art director for the duo’s videos and live performances, for which she’s created an Andy Warhol-inspired projection show. “I don’t want to be known as just another indie band from Williamsburg,” she explains, “I want it to be you’re coming to be entertained.”
Exploration seems to come naturally to Reynolds. Last summer, for example, she delved headlong into the world of pop with a stint as one of Ke$ha’s back-up singers while the be-glittered singer was in town opening for Rihanna at Madison Square Garden. “It’s not my thing, but it was a great experience; it kind of surprised me,” she says. “I was all Ke$ha-ed out in my outfit!”
For her own shows, Reynolds looks to fashion idols Peggy Moffitt, Catherine Deneuve, Mary Quant and Jane Birkin. On off-days, she relies on vintage dresses and jumpsuits and says she never wears jeans.
“I would say 60 percent of my wardrobe is vintage,” she says, though she concedes a few contemporary favorites such as Proenza Schouler, Alexander McQueen and The Row. But nothing can take the place of her beloved vintage Italian lambskin fur hat given to her as a gift.
“I love it because the label says, ‘shake it vigorously it will become beautiful,’” she says.