Kid Dakota: Collage in the 'Age of Roaches'

Kid Dakota wears a black shirt and stares into the camera
Darren Jackson, aka Kid Dakota, wears a black shirt and stares into the camera. (Darren Jackson)
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Kid Dakota talks about finishing "Age of Roaches"
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  • Kid Dakota talks about finishing "Age of Roaches" 00:25
  • Kid Dakota talks about isolation and his "collage years" 00:27

During The Current's spring member drive, we're highlighting eight Minnesota artists – from newcomers to veterans – with new music you need to know. We asked each artist to talk about their history in music, their new songs, and their hopes for the future.

My name is Darren Jackson, and I've been playing as Kid Dakota since 1999. I was really interested in music in high school, and I actually went to St. Olaf because of their music program. In the mid '90s, I moved to Minneapolis, and was immediately enamored with the Minneapolis music scene. That's when I really started getting into contemporary music. It seemed really interesting, because it was pushing the boundaries in all kinds of directions. Stylistically, I would say my music sounds like if Pink Floyd played more sort of indie rock-style music.

I'm especially proud of my last record, "Age of Roaches," which came out in December 2020. Finishing this record has been sort of a herculean kind of task, because I started writing the music for this in – I mean, parts of the songs go back to the mid '90s. I started working on the album in earnest around 2005. My band and I were touring with Low in Europe, and that was one of the first times that we consistently played the title track from the album "Age of Roaches." Since then, that song has been a staple in Kid Dakota sets, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that I was finally like, okay, you know, you've finished like three albums since you started this album, so now it's time to finally sit down and finish this "Age of Roaches" record.

And it only really happened after I got seriously interested in doing collage. I was living in rural South Dakota by myself, and it was pretty isolated, as living by yourself in South Dakota is wont to be. And I got obsessed about making collages, which I had always wanted to do but never had actually done. One day, after I'd made like my 40th collage in two months, there was paper all over the living room, and paste and things were sticking to my shoes, and I was like, you should probably take some of this collage energy and put it towards finishing your album.

"Age of Roaches" is kind of a concept album, in a really loose sense. I actually made the artwork for the cover. That was one of the collages that came out of the collage months. I think the album, even though it wasn't written during the pandemic, has a very sort of pandemic kind of feel to it.

I live in Northeast Minneapolis now, but I'm still teaching music in South Dakota via Zoom, which has been an interesting challenge this year. I also am a full-time graduate student right now at the University of Minnesota in music education. And after this semester, I would really like to just dedicate myself to playing, writing and performing music for as long as possible. So I'm going to abandon the day jobs and school and just focus on making music.

As told to Jackie Renzetti and edited by Cecilia Johnson. Audio clips by Cecilia Johnson.

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