Seeing the light (and the dark) with Tanlines

Cohen, left, and Emm bring the jams to Union Transfer on Saturday. For more info, visit

When doing an Internet search for music by the electronic act Tanlines, it’s inevitable that a much more popular release by a musician who has nothing to do with the Brooklyn-based duo will pop up.

“Oh, you mean Luke Bryan? ‘Tailgates & Tanlines’?” asks Jesse Cohen. It’s almost a novelty to hear a guy who plays keyboards, drums and bass for a dance group to name-check a country superstar. But Cohen recently became quite familiar with the album that shares a word with his band’s name.

“We did a tour of the South two weeks ago, which we had never done, and I made sure to bring that, just to finally listen to it, because it’s a huge album and it sold like over a million copies this year, so it’s always been all over my Google Alerts,” he elaborates.

Cohen says while Luke Bryan’s brand of baseball-hat country is not exactly his favorite type of music, he does appreciate the tunes for what they are.

In much of the conversation, Cohen comes across as a person who strives for positivity but is honest about the negatives. This ethos has a lot in common with Tanlines’ debut, “Mixed Emotions,” which came out this past spring. The music is upbeat, but there’s conflict within the lyrics and rhythms.

“We wanted to write an album that’s an honest reflection of who we are as two individuals,” says Cohen of himself and singer/guitarist Eric Emm. “It’s that mix of light and dark, happy and sad, and upbeat and melancholic at the same time.”


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