Who is Stillwater-based Deerpeople? Does the name reference some proverbial ancient Native American folklore? Nope. Try again. Think head-scratching hunting wisdom plucked from an episode of King of the Hill.
“The deer you kill will be your ancestor, and you must respect him and all the deerpeople.”
This kind of tongue-in-cheekedness is a fine testament to the essence of the Deerpeople. They don’t take themselves too seriously, which has made them one of the Oklahoma music scene’s freshest and most sought-after house-party bands to date.
“We like to be in control in an out-of-control kind of way. We have fun,” says Brennan Barnes. “Sometimes we’ll set a theme – like a formal or a drag show – and get as many people to a party as we can, knowing pretty well that we aren’t going to make it through a whole set before the cops are there. Even if it’s just one song, if a hundred people come out and fit into a tiny house to hear us play, it’s still a good time.”
With half the members hailing from Stillwater and half from Texas, the six-piece ensemble consists of Barnes, Alex Larrea, Julian Shen, Jordan Bayhylle, Derek Moore and Kendall Looney, and in just a little more than three years, the eclectic group of musical misfits has become a single, finely-tuned “functioning organism.”
Having played with the likes of the Evangelicals and Starlight Mints, they’ve also played Norman Music Festival and the Buffalo Lounge at last year’s South by Southwest.
It was at SXSW that they first included theatrics in their show as a part of their most recent EP, Explorgasm.
Offset from Deerpeople, but ultimately an extension of it, the band has taken Explorgasm to another level, collaborating with the multidisciplinary art group The Drama Dept. to perform at art galleries, giving audiences both a live concert and performance art experience.
“The Explorgasm project is different than what we’re used to – no one is dancing or pushing each other around or doing crazy stuff when we play – but it’s not just about us– it’s also about the visual aspect of the show,” says Barnes. “We’re also currently writing for our first full-length album, so I’d say things are going pretty great right now.”