BY GABE LICHT
MINNEAPOLIS, MN She’s performed with Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion. She’s opened up for Atmosphere and Trampled By Turtles with her band, Moon & Pollution. She’s toured regionally, nationally, and internationally as a solo artist and with projects like Dusty Heart.
Now, Delano High School graduate Molly Dean has released a solo album titled “The Natural Minor,” which was produced by Trampled By Turtles’ Dave Simonett.
Getting started in Delano
Dean’s family moved to Delano when she was 3 or 4.
She began studying classical piano when she was young, and embraced her love for performing while in high school.
“It all started for me in choir at DHS,” Dean said.
After graduating from DHS, Dean studied vocal performance and communication at the University of St. Thomas, and studied abroad at the Morley College of Music in London and University of Amsterdam.
She also has a degree in sound arts from Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Dean has been performing as a solo singer-songwriter and in groups since she was 18.
One of those groups, Moon & Pollution, was featured on the cover of Vita.mn magazine as one of the top four bands in the Twin Cities. The group also had their song, “Alter Eagle,” featured on the Season 4 premiere of MTV’s Teen Wolf.
Moon and Pollution released its debut album, “The Box Borealis,” in January of 2015, garnering positive local reviews for the band and Dean.
“O’Brien’s drum rhythms and trip-hop beats roll out like bog, unfolding into a celestial bed of sound which Dean’s ethereal vocals sink nicely into,” wrote Alex Nelson, of Vita.mn.
“The Box Borealis sounds like an exploration of the depths of human emotions here on earth, and love letter to the vast expanses of darkness that stretch out between the stars in outer space,” wrote Andrea Swensson, of 89.3 The Current.
‘The Natural Minor’
Following the release of the album, Dean turned her attention to recording her own solo album, “The Natural Minor.”
“It’s everything from Americana and a little gypsy, to chamber and folk,” Dean said. “It covers a lot of different genres.”
It also features a plethora of local artists, who Dean affectionately refers to as “a whole cast of characters.” They include cellist Daniel Zamzow and violinist Shannon Frid-Rubin, both of Cloud Cult; upright bassist Nicholas Gaudette, instrumental department chair at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists; percussionist Paul Jennings; drummer JT Bates, of bands like Fat Kid Wednesdays and Alpha Consumer; lead guitarist Erik Koskinen; electric bassist Frankie Lee; banjoist Dave Carroll, of Trampled By Turtles; keyboardist Bryan Nichols, of We Are Many; and Simonett playing electric guitar on one track.
Dean met Simonett when Moon & Pollution opened for Trampled By Turtles at Bayfront Festival in Duluth in 2013, and the two have been in touch since. When preparing to record her album, Dean reached out to Simonett.
“I’ve always respected him as a songwriter and someone who has a lot of experience, not only as a band leader, but also his experience in recording music with studios, and equipment, and knowing how the flow of a good session should go,” Dean said. “Being a performer, I’m in a different head space from trying to coordinate things, so I wanted to bring someone in.”
The two enjoyed working together.
“He’s very easy-going and non-intrusive creatively,” Dean said. “He wasn’t trying to change anything. He just wanted to enhance it and help shape it. That’s kind of what I was looking for.”
And, Dean found exactly what she was looking for in the finished product.
“I couldn’t be happier,” she said.
She had the opportunity to play two songs from the album and a third, previously unrecorded, track in 89.3 The Current Studios for The Local Show.
“It’s great because it’s a review, performance, and broadcast all in one, which is really great because they have such a far reach in the Cities, state, and beyond,” Dean said. “It was great exposure . . . I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and response from it. We had a really fun experience, and I really enjoyed the interview.”
Looking to the future
Dean and Barbara Jean Meyers are currently touring as the Americana duo, Dusty Heart. They have toured with Dave and Dave of Trampled by Turtles, and are currently touring with Jeffery Foucault.
The duo is looking to put out a record later this year.
Moon & Pollution is also writing new music, with a goal of releasing an album as early as 2017.
All of Dean’s projects can be found on iTunes, Amazon, or at www.mollydean.net.