Pure, emotive pop
OTW #459: Deptford Goth

Something haunts Daniel Woolhouse. It’s clear in his person, and his music. Now, there are no positives in him being a troubled soul, but it’s hard not to be gripped by the resulting creative outpour.

He first came to our attention in 2011 with his ‘Youth II’ EP on Merok. Four experimental pop tracks (including an ode to Mariah Carey) that mixed auto-tuned vocals and mutoid R&B with sparse synths and chopped drum patterns, to create a sound pleasingly close to The Weeknd and How To Dress Well, whilst retaining striking originality. All this, from a South London teaching assistant.

He now re-emerges, a fully-formed singer/songwriter, carrying the fruit of his efforts: an album, ‘Life After Defo’. Daniel explains: “I wanted the record to be one whole. The tracks were written at the same time as each other and evolved alongside each other. They naturally share certain qualities lyrically and sonically… I liked the idea of a duality of ‘real’ and ‘synthetic’.”

That juxtaposition acts as an umbrella for the emotive battles that flourish during the album, manifesting through his bitter sweet lyrics; “Connection and disconnection / Hope and despair / Life and death / Possession and loss”. The instrumentation that surrounds them have  developed since his EP, becoming complex  and fuller with a particular prolific XL producer assisting; “I recorded everything in isolation. When I was happy with it I went into the studio with Rodaidh Mcdonald and we did a final mix.”

If you really investigate Daniel’s art, there is a wealth of subtexts to be joyfully explored, often nodding to Ancient tones. The percussion of the aptly titled ‘Bronze Age’ sounds like the distant hammering of copper, ‘Life After Defo’ bellows open with primal drums and ‘Union’, arguably his finest song yet, outro-ing with a hoary harp line. His self-directed videos are smothered in mysterious symbolism. Rocks and geology feature prominently; “I’m drawn to them. They existed long before us and will be here when we’re gone,” explains Daniel. Lyrics run past  the screen on all videos, reminiscent of  Jenny Holzer’s Truisms, highlighting the  importance he places on them. His words are primitive: “Feel more with it / Than I want”, or “Soul scratched / Wrestling with heartbeats”. Never flowery or extraneous. Covering massive themes with minimal words.

With shows being cancelled for unknown reasons, and the album pushing back to late Spring, it all adds to the rising mystique of Peckham's Deptford Goth.

Words: Joe Zadeh (Follow on Twitter)
Photography: Oliver Hadlee Pearch
Fashion: Zoe Whitfield

Where: London
What: Pure, emotive pop
Get 3 songs: ‘Union’, ‘Life After Defo’, ‘Time’
Unique Fact: He doesn’t know how many days are in each month.

All clothing Artist’s own


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