Back in 2010, Kitsuné compilations sound-tracked the debauched nights in indie heartlands across the country. In fact, electro-pop music seemed all the rage and New York-based Darwin Deez was central to the craze.
It wasn’t long after the release of ‘Radar Detector’, with its sweet glitch-pop production and a song name that is deceptively nonsensical, that it became the electro-indie anthem of the year. Likeable, catchy and appealing to universal and easy-to-communicate emotions is something that Deez has a knack for. But while this remains with his latest album Songs for Imaginative People, things have changed rather remarkably.
Clash spoke to Darwin Deez about his 2013 follow-up album, learning that he since left the bustle of New York City for the southern escape of his childhood home, North Carolina. It’s a move that has allowed him to reconnect with his teenage Nietzsche phase and some Thin Lizzy records. Perhaps not the influences you’d expect from a guy who makes music destined for dance floors…
Hello Darwin, how are you?
Fine thank you, and you?
What has changed since your much loved self-titled debut?
I left NYC and moved back to North Carolina where I grew up, to a cool small mountain town called Asheville that is not my hometown.
Musically speaking, the album seems vey much in the same vein as your last effort but perhaps with a bit more spunk and pizzazz. Was there anything you wanted to change with this record?
I wanted to broaden the production/sound of the music and expand on the aesthetic that I created on the debut.
And how do you get that balance right? Creating something fresh that keeps you excited to be creating music, but that still relates musically to your fans who identify with you, as you sounded on your previous efforts. I guess it’s a struggle all artists have…
I tried to make sure there was some up-tempo stuff on there, Radar Detector being popular as it is. Honestly, I think it's a mistake to try to corral your art into a certain direction but people seem relatively pleased with the results. Some people seem more pleased than me with the up - tempo results-that I intentionally wrote to keep a strong bridge between this album's sound and the first one - so I did that. But my favourite stuff is the stuff that just came out because I was having fun working on it like Good to Lose and You Can't Be My Girl.
Were there any records or pieces of arts (or maybe just general influences) that inspired this record?
Sure, Thin Lizzy was in there. Huey Lewis, Everything, Everything, Michael Jackson's Bad.
The first single released from the album is Free (The Editorial Me). Can you tell us a little about what inspired the song title and the song in general?
Well I'm unattached at this point in my life, and I moved to a new town by myself and I enjoy being able to dance around the house in my jammies, set my own agenda every day, so there's that level to it. There's also an interesting passage from Nietzsche's The Gay Science on the page after he (famously) says 'god is dead.' I went through a big Nietzsche phase in my teens and this song is a bit of a memoir for me to those times. The 'editorial me' part is about the kind of reckoning and quality controlling we all do with ourselves at times, which I was doing a lot during my Nietzsche phase, which was a very depressing time in my life. The worst time in my life.
Why did you choose that single to be released first?
The label liked the chorus. And I like the label.
How do you think the fans will react to the record?
I think they might really love it - I'm not sure. I think they'll get into it but it'll never live up to the first record. They never do! But I'm quite proud of it, especially of the lyrics, and I think it's a lovely piece of art on its own.
As it’s the New Year, any tips for us – who should we be listening to?
What was your favourite record of last year?
Madi Diaz - Plastic Moon.
If you could dedicate this record to anyone or anything, who would it be?
It's dedicated to Mash Deez, my good friend and ex-bassist. She is the original Deez. It was her nickname and she passed it on to me. Check out her dance company, Dorrance Dance.
Lastly, can you please describe Darwin Deez, of the 2013 variety, in 5 words or less!
Resident lovesick idiot.
Words by Michelle Kambasha
Darwin Deez tours the UK this month darwindeez.com