Brother duo Dana and Alden deliver a refreshing take on contemporary jazz with their newest release, “Coconut Water.“
You might recognize Alden McWayne from TikTok, under the username @gucci_pineapple. Alden and his older brother, Dana, are known for posting short covers of iconic hip-hop songs (like Kanye West’s “Bound2”), where Alden plays the drums and Dana plays the saxophone. The two are usually accompanied by a rotating cast of musical friends. Over the past two years, Alden has amassed an online following through videos where he approaches strangers with oddly specific compliments or a bouquet of flowers. Together, the brothers release music as Dana and Alden on streaming platforms. Alden and I discussed the brothers’ musical journey, their latest release, and success on TikTok.
Alden is currently a student at Berklee, but he credits his brother for getting him into jazz in middle school. “Dana’s always been a great sax player,” he said, and wanting to be like his older brother inspired him to pick up the clarinet and saxophone. While the two played together in school jazz bands, Alden bought a drum set off Craigslist in the seventh grade and has been drumming ever since. The two grew up listening to Coltrane and other classic jazz masters, and now turn to the London-based experimental jazz scene (Dana’s pick) and Bad Bunny (Alden’s Top Spotify Artist of 2021) for further inspiration.
The brothers have achieved a synergistic combination for their music-making. While Dana steers much of the music composition, Alden acts as a frontman for the two, maintaining a steady online presence to engage with a potential fanbase. TikTok’s powerful algorithm has brought Alden’s page to the attention of the masses, and he has found TikTok to be a crucial part of the brothers’ journey in establishing a platform, connecting with fellow musicians, and even aiding in finding the sound authentic to them. Named after his abandoned clothing brand from middle school, Alden’s TikTok @gucci_pineapple has even allowed him to meet collaborators.
Through TikTok, Alden met Will Paquin, another Bostonian musician who’s found success on the app. Last fall, Dana and Alden sold out a joint show with Paquin in New York, and Paquin has continued to appear in Alden’s videos. The platform has also been a crucial part of the brothers’ journey in finding their audience niche. Through Earl Sweatshirt, Kanye West, and MF Doom covers, Dana and Alden have found an audience that is receptive to this “kind of vintage, jazzy-soul, big saxophone” music.
In mid-July, the duo dropped “Coconut Water” in collaboration with Oregonian artist quickly, quickly, who established his following with a lo-fi inspired beat tape. Alden recounted meeting quickly, quickly at the University of Oregon jazz camp in 2017: “He was cooking up beats on his computer in the cafeteria and we really hit it off.” After a few DM exchanges, the brothers arrived at quickly, quickly’s Portland studio to put their brains together. The studio became the perfect place for “natural chemistry to flow” between the three.
“Coconut Water” begins with a vocal and drum count-off by Alden. A sax melody floats over a laid-back funk groove, typical in several of their other songs. The chorus of “la la la’s” doubles the sax melody, creating a hazy atmosphere. Alden said, “I’ve never been so proud of a song that I’ve worked on before.” He gushed about the production of the track, citing the range of vintage equipment found in quickly, quickly’s studio, from the synths to the drumset, which allows recordings to be colored by a “lovely and warm tinge.”
This release marks the brothers’ return to the studio after their first project, an album titled Brothers, that is filled with instrumental bangers like “Serrano” and “Vroom, Vroom.” According to Alden, recording Brothers felt like the two were only getting their feet wet. Recording this project was “rushed and rigid,” but allowed them to get familiar with the recording process. The album was recorded in two days and produced by a jazz guitarist who lived down the street from the brothers in their hometown (“shoutout Don Latarski”) and was a strong debut for Dana and Alden. However, Alden confided that Brothers feels more like an EP than an album to him, and that he and Dana plan on recording a new album over the winter holidays.
Now that they have begun to hit their stride, Dana and Alden are more ready than ever to tackle the sound that they want. In his own words, “Coconut Water” feels like lying on the beach, with warm waves splashing over your toes. So sit back and listen to Dana and Alden’s laid-back tunes—the contours of their groove will take you on a journey.