Dan Deacon is best known for two things: a profanity laden viral video and bleep-bloopy dance music that hipsters really, really love. The Baltimore resident is actually a conservatory trained musician with a degree in electro-acoustic and computer music composition who can bust out all kinds of fancy terms typically reserved for musicology dissertations. After two highly successful indie charted albums that were declared ‘Best New Music’ by Pitchfork (‘Spiderman Of The Rings’ and ‘Bromst’), and a minor setback from a back injury late last year, Dan is back on the road and ready to fly into Airwaves. We called him up at home to talk soundscapes and rumours.
You’re really prolific in producing material and each of your albums stands out as a distinct piece of work from the others. Are they deliberate concepts or is it pure experimentation?
I think each album represents my musical focus at the time or a reflection of where I’m at at the time. I tend to delve into these areas and explore something else once I feel I’m done exploring that. My next album, whenever that will eventually be released, will be a departure from the last one but it probably won’t be completely unrecognisable.
I started off writing a lot of electronic music, focusing on using the different textures and timbres of sound, which is different from a rock band which has a sound but can change instrumentation and all that. The basis of what I do is trying to make new timbres and work within that realm. I do try to explore a lot, but I guess my compositional style does stay the same in some ways. I am really interested in scalar motion and density, for example.
You had some pretty interesting instrumentation on your last album, like the player piano. How did you get your hands on one?
I spent yesterday downloading the final episode of the BBC series, ‘Sherlock. I know, it may be illegal, but there was no way I was going to wait several months for RÚV (or god forbid Skjáreinn) to obtain the rights to show it. The finale was the grand unveiling of Holmes’ arch enemy and nemesis, Moriaty, but while watching this, a few things clicked in my head as to whether I may have a nemesis. For those who spent their schooldays masturbating to b-grade porn, a nemesis is someone who is your polar opposite, yet shares many traits and similarities with yourself. Now the reason I was thinking about all of this was that some weird things have been happening to me this summer.
Over the last few months, friends and work colleagues returning from their summer holidays have been coming up to me going ‘Hey Bob! I just saw you in a commercial while I was at the airport!’ or ‘Was that you I saw while I was on my flight from JFK?’ I even had someone stop me in the street shouting ‘Weren’t you that guy on the telly??’ These questions are met by puzzled looks and mumbles of ‘err… I don’t know what you’re talking about’. It seems some TV advertisements have been produced about how great the Keflavik International Airport. And according to these people, I’m in them!
Now obviously this can’t be as I’m a true paragon of integrity and would NEVER stoop to whoring myself out as a corporate shill for some cash. But a cursory search on the internets brought it all home. A commercial with my doppelganger droning on about ‘how much space there was in Iceland’ and how all this made him ‘feel a bit like a popstar in a limousine’. This imposter looked just like me, shit he even sounded like me. But something was off. Eventually, on a visit to Keflavik, I saw him and his stupid mug on a banner, 4 metres tall. I had finally found the name of my nemesis…
His name is Nick Coxon, a hip music journalist from the UK.
Of course tracking this man is a bit like tracking the ghost of Keyser Söze. One minute he’s there, the next, poof! He’s off on his next round of exploits. Even trawling the internet doesn’t provide many clues (if any). It’s as if some kind of evil doppelganger from an alternate universe has been transported here terminator-style to systematically destroy my livelihood. Yes, it all makes sense now!
And as for the being my nemesis, let’s look at the facts shall we? While we share many things (looks, accent, taste in kilts, Mohican) but he is supposed to be my polar opposite. Right now my life consists of existing as a humanoid slug who spends his days tearing out the souls of shitty indie bands from Ólafsvík, and at night I’m often sitting naked in the dark, listening to Gjöll’s ‘Way Through Zero’ at impossible volume, all the while gorging on mayonnaise and sobbing over YouTube videos of kittens getting their heads stuck in cereal packets. Now you would certainly agree that is one hell of a human existence!
So if Nick Coxon is my mirror, he’s probably the ultimate ‘insider’ journalist. On occasions comes to Iceland, securing that elusive interview with the bass player from Sigur Rós (sample quote ’Shit. I never really was into this elfin post rock rubbish. I’m really hoping that my solo album will be nothing but Icelandic Deep Purple covers’).m then in his spare time pens what will become a Pulitzer prize winning essay on Chris Martin of Coldplay, titled ‘Chris Martin: Genius or Mental?’
But Nick, I’m onto you and your attempts to infiltrate my life. You may be getting all the glory, the plaudits, the exclusives, the cool tight jeans, asymmetrical haircut AND the excessive amounts of free drugs and Brazilian Transsexual Hookers, but I have something that you will NEVER have. Integrity! Oh and trousers with an elasticated waistband…..