Dan Deacon - A Deacon Of Light
Monday, 18 February 2008
If you think that Baltimore is all about Baltimore club – or Spank Rock – think again. The pop intellectual Dan Deacon is creating fun, irreverent and adventurous electronic music that defies tags, as evident on his current album Spiderman Of The Rings. He deploys vintage equipment such as the Casio keyboard and dons crazy costumes for his eccentric performances. He also studied electronic music at New York’s Purchase College.
Back in Baltimore, he belongs to the influential arts collective Wham City, pushing what they call “future shock”.
Your music doesn’t sound anything like what we associate with Baltimore. Where do you fit into the city’s music culture-
People outside of Baltimore seem to have an odd perspective of what music from here sounds like. It’s an extremely diverse underground. Everything fits like a weird glue.
The thinking in Australia is that Baltimore is a hotspot because of the Baltimore club sound. How much of that is accurate and how much is media hype-
[It’s] media hype. The warehouse scene and the club scene are pretty much totally different worlds.
How does Spiderman Of The Rings chart your growth and where you’re headed-
I think it was a good marker of where I was as a composer at the time it was written (mainly between 2004 and 2006). The songs have been getting much denser and more psychedelic. The next record will be a lot more percussion-heavy, and the album after that will most likely be more live instruments than electronics.
What challenges are you setting yourself-
The biggest challenge I’ve been facing is to keep the shows intimate as the crowds grow larger and larger.
Though your aim is to transcend “esoteric intellectual gangs”, you’re probably more popular with those same gangs than ever! How are you reaching out to a wider audience-
I’m trying not to think about it, but it’s certainly becoming a factor. The ‘stage show’ will ultimately change by the time the next album comes out but, until then, I don’t plan on changing it very much. I’m pretty stubborn.
To what extent is your music a manifestation – or reaction – to your own academic background-
I get asked this question often and it’s impossible to say. I guess it’s a little of both – I don’t know. It’s like asking what you would be like if you had different parents or if you grew up in India.
We’re familiar with some of the acts who have influenced you in the past (Devo, Talking Heads, Scratch Orchestra), but who is influencing you within a contemporary milieu-
The biggest influence on my work would have to be the work made by other members of Wham City.
On your site you publish some reviews. Have you ever found a review useful to you, or has one ever helped you see your own work in a new light-
What can you tell us about the show you’re bringing to Australia-
I’m bad at answering these questions. I think YouTube is better at answering them for me...
What are your interests outside of music-
I like running an artscape and live performance venue in Baltimore (like the physical part of Wham City). I’m getting back into photography and installation art. I’ll be getting back into exercising after I get back from your wonderful land!
WHO: Dan Deacon
WHAT: Plays Oxford Art Factory / St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Circular Quay
WHEN: Friday 22 February / Sunday 2 March