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Separation and connections through the use of music


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Dana T found music at an early age, and despite (or because of) the tuba years, it became a career.

By Sabrina Shearer

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Iowa City resident Dana Telsrow was only 12 years old when he picked up his first guitar and strummed some chords that would unknowingly turn into his future career as Dana T.

Telsrow remembers finding a passion for music at an early age and in an unlikely environment — the separation of his parents.

On weekends, Telsrow and his father struggled to find a connection until they discovered they shared a love for music while driving around and listening to the radio together. That prompted his father to buy Telsrow his first guitar, and it sparked the creative vision to make music for a living.

Telsrow ended up pursuing music at the University of Iowa playing the tuba, but he found the brass instrument a little frustrating while trying to experiment with pop music. His supportive professor at the time then gave him some rockin’ bass lines to play from songs by such artists as Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd, which helped Telsrow incorporate his love for horns into his music.

A couple years later a magical twist of fate occurred: Telsrow met future partner in crime Arin Eaton. Known on stage as Karen Meat, the couple created a relationship both on and off the stage.

“We’re a couple, we live together, we tour together, and I think having that relationship has shaped the performance completely just to have someone you’re that comfortable with,” Telsrow said.

A Dana T and Karen Meat show will be an unforgettable experience with their flashy clothing and theatrical stage presence.

“It’s very performative, and she gets on my shoulders or between my legs, and I spit beer here and there, and we’re all around the stage doing the craziest things we can think of,” Telsrow said. “Don’t takeourselves too seriously.”

The funky electro-pop music the two play is vastly different from Dana T’s solo work that he writes and performs. Telsrow’s sound is a little more band-based; he describes it as avant-garde.

Performing more than 100 shows a year and continually traveling, Telsrow spends his free time creating new music.

His latest album (May), Harsh Forever, expresses a personal story of a dealing with the death of both of his grandfathers and a previous breakup.

“It was a lot of like trying to think about death in a positive way and also coming to terms with certain aspects of a breakup,” Telsrow said.

When he is not on stage, he is a UI video editor and also works at Flat Black Studios.

His plans include two full-length tours this year in such places as Iowa City, Florida, and the Northeast. People can also catch a fun Dana T performance at this year’s RAGBRAI stop in Iowa City.

Dana T’s next local performance will be at 8 p.m. July 21 at Public Space One, 120 N. Dubuque St.

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