PRESCOTT - They met in a bar, fell in love over a beer, ditched Phoenix for Prescott, had a son, and recently gave birth to their first five-song EP. Jen and Tres Ikner, aka Dutch Holly, have been busy the past six years.
"Expat Records approached us," Tres said from the couple's home studio in Prescott. "They have a different kind of business model. They split the profits with the artists and the artists keep the copyrights and control of the material."
"They are really cool guys," Jen added.
"We do not want to be indentured servants to a traditional record company," Tres (pronounced 'tray') said.
The Ikners themselves have a different kind of recording model for their self-described "indie-pop original songs." They don't have a band, but hire musicians for each recording. At home, they record the chord structure and vocals, then e-mail digital files of the recording to former Prescott drummer Chris Ozuna in Florida, who lays down the percussion tracks and ships the file back.
Tres is an electronics wizard and handles the technical side of things. In addition to mixing and mastering music, he brands merchandise for companies, produces videos and designs graphics and web pages.
While Tres handles the electronics, Jen handles their 4-year-old son, Max.
"Possibly the coolest kid in the world," Tres wrote on the couple's website, dutchholly.com.
"I sit by Tres while he plays the piano and I play with the vocals," Jen said explaining the beginning process for new songs.
"A lot of times we work together, and sometimes we work alone," Tres said. "Left to my own devices, a song would be OK. But she always comes up with a stroke of genius that just makes the song.
"She could come up with an ending to 'Hey Jude,' and the Beatles would be like, 'Oh yeah. That's what was missing.'"
"We do everything in tandem," Jen added.
Although they hire musicians to record instruments such as guitar, violin, keyboard, drums, trumpet and bass, Tres and Jen are talented musicians themselves.
Jen hails from Southern California and is self-taught on guitar and flute. Tres, who plays just about everything except drums, hails from "West-by-gawd-Virginia" and earned a degree in multimedia production from James Madison University at Harrisonburg, Va.
"There weren't any jobs there for that," said Tres, who packed his bags in the late 1990s and moved to Phoenix, joined a band, and met Jen.
The couple describes their meeting like this on their website: "Jen's band, Persephone's Picnic, was opening for Tres' band, Dalmatian Car, in a bar that was open for one night only - that night - then closed.
"When Jen finished her set, she pondered aloud from the stage, 'Who's gonna buy me a beer?' 'That'd be me,'" replied Tres. "She hasn't bought a beer since."
Their website is filled with funny anecdotes and almost rivals their music for entertainment - almost.
Calling themselves "indie pop" recording artists is an easy way to avoid describing the indescribable.
Sounds of pop, rock, jazz, the Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, Debbie Harry and Blondie, and the Cowboy Junkies come through on their new EP, "What Rhymes With You?" The addition of violins evokes the sound of Celtic superstar Loreena McKennitt.
With the release of their EP, which is sold on iTunes, Amazon, Music is Here, Juno Download, and Expat Records, Tres and Jen are ready to put together a band and start touring.
"We want to be ready when David Letterman calls," Tres said.
"We used to be a lot more raucous than we are now," Jen said. "When I became a mom, I wanted to write softer stuff. Kind of like warm oatmeal cookies rather than cigarettes and whiskey."
To read more about Dutch Holly or listen to samples of their new EP, visit dutchholly.com.