Duke student band Weekend Therapy talks inspirations, origin stories and plans for the future

Last semester's LDOC concert featured such prominent artists as Cafuné, 070 Shake and NLE Choppa. Playing alongside these stars was a band helmed by Duke’s own students: Weekend Therapy.

The Chronicle sat down with bassist Justin Garcia, keyboardist Felix Zhu, drummer Oliver Wang and guitarist and vocalist Tyler Doan to discuss Weekend Therapy’s impressive past and exciting future. This interview has been edited for grammar and clarity.

The Chronicle: So how did Weekend Therapy start? What’s the origin story? And is this the original lineup, or did some of you join later on?

Tyler: Yeah, so Weekend Therapy started out from us all meeting at Duke’s orientation program. We were all in Project Arts – Justin, Oliver and I. We were in the music section, and Felix we found just playing the piano one day. During orientation, we were trying to work together to create this project, this final concert for the arts. So I got to know them through that, and we thought it'd be a good idea for us to jam some time just to show our creative ideas in terms of music. We all ended up jamming in Oliver's room, in GA room 116m, and that was the start of our band. We heard about this opportunity called Small Town Records, which is a student-run record label where they would help you make your own music, release your music and find ways for you to perform around the area. So we started practicing for that and made a few original songs that we perform to this day. We used those to audition right on BC Plaza really early into freshman year. We got into the record label, and from then we just started playing gigs on campus.

TC: What is Weekend Therapy’s sound? Who were some of your major inspirations for the music this band is trying to produce?

Tyler: It's kind of a hard question to answer, because we all come from different backgrounds in music. I primarily grew up listening to a lot of R&B, a lot of slow jams – hit your soul, vocal-centered types of music. One of my greatest inspirations for that is Mac Ayres. I was really into Steve Lacey as well, because he started out really young and he was able to make music using GarageBand on his phone. He showed me that anybody can make music as long as you're really passionate about it and you're willing to get your stuff out there.

Oliver: I listen to a lot of jazz, a lot of indie rock. I don't really have a specific artist, but I obviously like the Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. And then I take a lot of inspiration from jazz drumming, Buddy Rich and other stuff like that.

Justin: In terms of bass and general music inspiration, I’m inspired by high energy rock, like heavier music. From a bass perspective, a lot of the ideas and any baseline licks or solos definitely come from more classic rock, like Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden. That’s the kind of the tone that cuts through a little bit more, and that would definitely apply for any more ‘rock’ songs that we have a vision for outside the R&B.

Felix: R&B wasn’t really an area I listened to that much in high school, but once I got into college, I started listening to a lot more of that. I also listened to Mac Ayres, Human Nature, some people who have really chill, quiet vibes; even if they don't necessarily play keys, it influences the way that you want to sound on keys. There's also the jazz influence, how a lot of jazz pianists like Duke Ellington and Duke Jordan voice things. That’s a bit more technical, but I draw from that background.

TC: Of the shows you've played, what's your favorite? 

Tyler: I think that’s a unanimous decision for us: LDOC 2023. We had a lot of smaller concerts before then, but we didn’t expect to be approached to play at such a sought-after event. If I told someone that I opened for NLE Choppa, they probably wouldn’t believe me. I think what made it ten times better was that we spent so much time dedicated to practice and trying to hone our setlist, not just for our enjoyment, but so everyone else enjoyed what they were listening to.

TC: Where do you see Weekend Therapy going in the future? Is there anything big on the horizon?

Tyler: In our debut year where we broke out as a band, we really tried to get our stage presence up and try to get exposure, so we really focused on performing and getting comfortable with each other on stage. Now we've toned it down a little bit; we’re trying to really focus on producing our songs and fully fleshing them out for streaming platforms. I think, most importantly, I just want to have something that we can all look back on after we graduate to be like, ‘Wow, this was actually something that was sick to work on. And I really enjoyed all four years of doing it.’

TC: Is there anything else you want to talk about that we haven't covered?

Tyler: Follow us on Instagram @wknd.therapy! Hopefully you’ll see us on Apple Music or Spotify soon.

Oliver: Hopefully some more performances this semester too, after we get our song released.

Tyler: Once our song’s out, we’ll definitely be trying to perform again on Abele Quad or BC plaza, get our music out there and into the world.

Bennett Gillespie profile
Bennett Gillespie

Bennett Gillespie is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department. 


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