While the music of Denton-based band Darling Farm is about everyday life, the group’s journey has not followed the standard trajectory of the local scene.
Less than a year old, Darling Farm released an extended play in March that currently has thousands of streams on Spotify. The band is now scheduling a regional tour and developing a debut album.
“I’ve been in a lot of bands in this DIY Denton thing and I think Darling Farm is one where it’s moving really fast and things are happening,” bassist Mills Chaiken said.
Additionally, in late April, Darling Farm stepped in front of a sold-out crowd in Dallas at Trees, opening for the British band Palace.
“That was a really, really big deal for us,” singer and songwriter Joseph Mings said. “It happened kind of spur of the moment, I think their opener might have canceled and we got the call. That was a surreal moment, there were more than 500 people in the audience and it was just insane.”
Chaiken had previously played shows of a similar size, but “never in a band that is as young as we are.” This lent a unique feeling of rawness to the performance, Chaiken said.
Darling Farm was formed last August and is made up of Mings, Chaiken and drummer Ethan Hope. Trying to label each member with a single role is difficult, as each plays various instruments and collaborates on the songwriting process. This involves Mings bringing in a song in varying states of completion and the trio finishing the piece as a unit, Chaiken said.
“I just love rehearsals and collaboratively coming up with drums and bass parts and arrangements,” Hope said. “We all have a lot of fun with that.”
Darling Farm’s music is about “a mix of everything, life in general,” Mings said.
“It’s about losing and winning,” Mings said. “Not knowing who you are, not knowing where you’re going and trying to figure that out.”
Mings tries to incorporate some humor into their lyrics, along with the “really sad stuff,” because they feel like everybody mixes humor with the pain of life.
This has resonated with some listeners, as the band currently has almost 14,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Mings said this feels “pretty f—king surreal” and attributes the success to the song “Ice Cream Man” — which itself has 18,500 plays on Spotify — being put on a ‘Fresh Finds’ playlist.
While the “No, Yeah” EP came out this year, its five songs were recorded solely by Mings before the band formed. They recorded it over six days while sleeping on a friend’s couch in Austin. However, Mings said they consider the “No, Yeah” tracks to be Darling Farm songs through and through.
“The band was a catalyst to play those songs originally, but then we started writing our own stuff and it became a real collaborative effort as a band,” Mings said.
The focus on Mings’ work does not bother the other band members.
“I kind of like Darling Farm just being mostly Joseph’s songs that we then arrange,” Chaiken said. “I think it’s cool to have it just be that because Joseph’s songs are so strong.”
The trio shares similar musical backgrounds, having all studied jazz and started playing instruments at a young age.
Mings, 24, has resided in Denton for three years, having previously studied jazz piano at the University of Texas at Arlington. They have played music since they were eight, starting with piano lessons and then teaching themselves guitar in high school. A visual artist as well, Mings designed the “No, Yeah” cover and is currently working on a shirt design for the band.
Mings also shot and edited the “Dishes” music video.
Chaiken, 26, has been a member of the Denton music scene for seven years. Chaiken plays six different instruments and graduated with a degree in jazz studies from the University of North Texas in 2019.
Hope, 27, first started playing in the third grade after receiving a drum set from a neighbor. After teaching himself how to play, Hope knew that he wanted to pursue music seriously. He is currently studying jazz guitar at the university.
“The power of Joseph’s writing and Joseph’s willpower to get us to start doing all of this stuff out of the gate is inspiring,” Chaiken said.
The band is already recording its debut album, which will tentatively be released at the beginning of next year. The record will be home-recorded and partially self-produced, with hopes to “one-up the [EP] in every way,” Mings said.
“If it’s done sooner, we’ll drop it sooner,” Mings said.
Palace will be returning to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in September and has told the band they want to play more shows. Darling Farm is currently booking its own tour across Texas and surrounding southern states for the fall.
“Taking your music across the country is super satisfying,” Chaiken said.
Mings said the ultimate goal for the band is to make music and not worry about anything else.
“[I want to] make exactly what we want to make and that’s it,” Mings said. “I just want to be able to play without worrying about money.”
Featured Image: Darling Farm members pose together on May 3, 2022. Photo by Abigail Mueller