The Okee Dokee Brothers are a musical duo that are set to release their new album, “Winterland,” on October 19, 2018. Lifelong friends Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing celebrate the spirit of the winter season on their latest full-length studio album which follows their critically acclaimed “Adventure Album Series.” With “Winterland,” the Okee Dokee Brothers release an exuberant yet introspective collection of 16 original songs exploring the wonders and beauty of winter. A voyage from autumn to spring, “Winterland” presents secular winter music the entire family can enjoy while cozying up around the fire. The duo will also plan several concerts over the coming months.
In a world where people are all too often pursuing their own individual journeys, “Winterland” humbly reminds us that we are all human beings living within the uncontrollable motions of Mother Nature. Embracing the cycles of loss and new life, darkness and light, bitter cold and warmth, “Winterland” reflects that winter is not only a season, but a feeling we carry within. As we weather the storm by looking inward, we can redefine our seasonal perspectives. In fact, with just the right outlook, winter can become our own sense of paradise, even throughout the warm months.
Moreover, “Winterland” is dedicated to endangered winters, which are warming fast as a result of climate change. To help ensure that fans of The Okee Dokee Brothers can enjoy a lifetime of snowy winter exploration, they’re donating 10% of all “Winterland” CD sales and 10% of ticket sales from their hometown CD release concert at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine’s University (St. Paul, MN: Nov. 3) to Askov Finlayson’s Keep the North Coldinitiative. Keep the North Cold supports leading-edge climate solutions in the North and across the country.
Joe and Justin recently spoke about all this and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and how did you team up together?
Joe Mailander (JM): Justin and I grew up together – we’ve known each other since we were three years old. We started playing guitar around the same time in high school and then started a rock band a year later. That quickly changed to more of a folk band and that’s when we started writing original tunes together. Since then, we’ve always run our songs by one another and collaborated on lyrics and albums.
MM: What inspires your songs and do you typically write lyrics or melodies first?
JM: Our shared childhood memories inspire our songs – and of course, our adventures outdoors. We tend to theme our albums around nature and music from specific regions that interest us. For the majority of our songs, we write the lyrics and the music simultaneously.
MM: How did you think up the name of your band?
JM: Justin said, “Hey brother, want to start a band?” and I replied, “Okee Dokee, Brother!” That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
MM: Your recent album includes winter-themed music. Is it your favorite season and do you have albums honoring the other three as well?
JM: We don’t have a favorite season, we just think winter is the season that’s gets complained about the most – so we wanted to give it some good press, ya know? I mean, holiday songs do that too, but we wanted to make an album for winter without any holiday references. So that’s what we did. It’s a beautiful season that, if you dress right and change your mentality about it, can be so accessible, cozy, and fun. You just need to embrace the cold! As for the other season, our adventures albums loosely relate to them: Through the Woods – Spring, Can You Canoe – summer, and Saddle Up – fall.
MM: You are giving a portion of your proceeds to charity, so whose idea was that and why and how did you select the specific charities you are giving to? Can you tell us a bit more about them?
JM: We are both concerned about how climate change is impacting our winters. It’s a fact that Minnesota’s winters are not going to be the same as they used to if we keep going down this path, and we wanted to help reverse that. We want future generations to keep our cold weather traditions alive. Keep the North Cold and Protect Our Winters are both great organizations working to combat climate change and spread the word about climate action groups and legislation.
MM: Of all your songs, which are your favorites and fan favorites?
JM: Depends on the day and it depends on the fan! We have songs for varying types of people and varying types of moods. We’re not that interested in just a few hit concepts, we like providing a wide range of thoughts, emotions and ideas.
MM: What experiences with fans have been most memorable to you and why?
JM: Almost every year, we take a canoe trip with fans here in Minnesota. About 100 people sign up, we take a bunch of huge voyageur canoes down the Mississippi River, and then we sing songs on the banks of Old Muddy. It’s pretty much the best way to enjoy our tunes.
MM: When you started out making music why did you focus on music for kids?
JM: We call it family music or all-ages acoustic music. We love inter-generational experiences that are participatory. Playing in bars lost its appeal really quickly, especially when we started playing for folks who actually wanted to be there, listen, and engage.
MM: Overall, what are your biggest goals for the future?
JM: Goals? To be less goal oriented and just enjoy the current moment! Also, to just keep writing the best family music that we can.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
JM: Five new “Winter” music videos will be released weekly from mid-October to mid-November. So, like Grandpa always said, keep an eye on our socials and subscribe to our YouTube Chanel.
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