Justin Batiste and Jesse Zenon met shortly before they argued until 5 a.m. inside The Club/Ms. Mae's, somehow sparking a relationship that turned into electronic R&B duo 13 Dreams. They don't remember what the argument was about.
13 Dreams' formal debut, 2016's Post Gospel Disco, gathers lush and delicate textures, warm bursts of layered keyboards and Seal- and Prince-inspired vocal arrangements, but they admit there's a sadness lurking throughout. "You can feel the sunshine," Batiste says, "but the deeper you get into the record, getting into the back half, you can feel it getting darker, and you can feel something on the horizon, that life wasn't going to continue down that trajectory."
13 Dreams follows Post Gospel Disco with 2017's upcoming Moonset, which Zenon says reflects personal "whiplash" after Post Gospel Disco with "depressing-ass songs."
"But somehow we ended up with something that's more poppy than the last one," he says. "We tried pushing ourselves a little harder, not just sonically. We tried to write a little more complex songs with more nuance, never straying away from pop music or pop sensibilities."
The band quietly has composed roughly 70 songs over the last few years, building from Batiste's percussion samples and Zenon's sweeping synthesizer riffs, later finalized in the studio with producer Kirby Campbell (formerly of GIVERS) and, recently, arranged with a full live band. "I think it's important to let things gestate a while," Batiste says. "You have to give everything some breathing room."
Moonset singles "Prior's Place" and "Adjacent Spaces" fold dreamy harmonies into punchy synths and cascading percussion samples, building on the dense, headphones-filling pop catalog 13 Dreams prefers to release as a fully realized, overwhelming vision.
"We're definitely outliers musically here," Batiste says. "We're aware of that. No one has any illusions about trying to shoehorn a sound likes ours into the New Orleans scene, or where does that stand in the scheme of things. We don't need to win over everyone. We just need to win over someone."
The 2017 Music Issue:
13 Dreams | Blato Zlato | Boyish Charm
Tasche & the Psychedelic Roses | Yung Vul