INVENTING THE WEATHER
Tom: How did you get into the DJ and electronic music world?
Daedelus: I've always been fascinated by sounds. When I was really young I wanted to be an inventor. When people asked me when I was 4 or 5, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I always said, "An Inventor." Over trial and error throughout my youthful years I learned that I am terrible at things you need to be good at, like math or reading and learning, etc. But I had an aptitude for sound, manipulating sounds and also taking things apart. An inventor should put them back together.
T: Ah, good point.
D: I pursued sound with a vengeance. I messed around with woodwinds. I played double bass for a number of years. That was leading me into the direction of electronic music strangely enough. It all kind of ran like rivers into the sea.
T: What is the moniker Daedelus?
D: Historically, Daedelus is a mythological figure who flew across the sea with his son Icarus died because he flew to close to the sun. Daedelus was cursed to make it across and feel sad about his mythological notions. Also, James Joyce wrote books who [sic] had characters named Daedelus, only spelled differently. His narrative voice was really inspirational to me. The third thing that inspired me, and people are going to laugh at this, but there was an old 1980's Japanese animation program called Robotech. They had a beautiful wonder ship called The Daedelus. All of that, plus the idea that the more passionate you are about things, the more it allows people to feel the same way. It's a belief I hold. So all those factors together made Daedelus a perfect title.
T: Do you read a lot?
D: I would like to but I'm terribly dyslexic. Reading for me takes a huge amount of time. Poetry suits me a little bit better. Maybe something about shorter lines.
T: You can see a phrase instead of reading a sentence?
D: Exactly. And with my kind of dyslexia I skip around a lot and it probably shows up in my music to a degree.
T: Would you say the 80's were your formative years?
D: It's difficult to say because at home I listen to a lot of stuff from the 30's and 40's and also 60's and 70's soundtracks. When you heard my music maybe you somehow connected because of that.
T: Well, that's ultimately why you're here. [laughs] When I first heard your Household EP I heard all kinds of picture music going on.
D: Yea, there's a lot of that. My teenage years were spent in the early 90's. There was such an explosion of great music then. The technology became cheap enough so lots of people could do it - hip hop, rave, experimental rock.
T: If someone were to look for your music, which bin would they go to?
D: It's getting confusing nowadays because variations of hip hop, electronic and rock are all bleeding together so nicely but it makes it a headache for people to look for unusual things at the record store. Most of the time you'll find me in the Electronic section, but sometimes in the Hip Hop section as well, depending on what kind of project I'm into.
T: I know what you mean. I just listened to a group in the electronic bin that sounded like indie rock with a hip hop beat that would occasionally drop in and out and end up sounding shoegaze. I thought, "Where would someone find this?" If it wasn't for listening booths I don't think I would have discovered it.
D: It's that and internet radio. There's [sic] so many releases out there you'll never find on commercial radio.
T: How about other musicians who use the turntable as their instrument?
D: Christian Marclay is a good person to bring up. He takes the Dj idea into a whole different direction.
T: Do you consider yourself a DJ?
D: I just consider myself a fetishist who likes vinyl or something along those lines. Maybe obsessive fits better. DJ is too simple. You think of somebody who is going to be playing at a wedding or Bar mitzvah. That really doesn't do it justice, especially for the people who take the time to know their records. When you are looking at vinyl, you see the breakdowns, you see the basslines. You begin to read the language of the vinyl and begin to seek after sounds that most people don't give a damn about.
T: Well there's a lot of matching beats going on with DJs. When I talk with them, there always talking about matching beats, everything is matching beats and there's no more conversation.
D: When you see the best people like Kid Koala and Z-Trip - these kids are doing far more than that. I saw Kid Koala play once and he just picked up his vinyl off the turntable and let the needle drag all the way off the vinyl and perfectly hit the time on the next record. It's just inhuman but at the same time he does something totally magical with it. He's transcended the beat match, the simple scratch DJ, and radio mix DJ.
T: I've noticed the complexity in your stuff. Can you explain how you go about creating it? You play guitar and other instrumental parts?
D: Well, I play bass clarinet and double bass on a bunch of tracks and I dabble with toy pianos. I modified a guitar to use for some tracks. The Dub tradition really influenced me so I'd like to say that the mixer is sometimes my instrument.
T: I have heard a lot of kid records in your music.
D: Yes, I'm obsessed with soundtracks which lead us together but I'm also a spoken word and kid records. I think it's because of the soundtrack to Willie Wonka which I had from a young age. It has all those elements together. The spoken parts, the musical soundtrack and effect elements are all on the recording.
T: How do you put it together? Do you use a multi-track recorder?
D: Yea, I'll use this program called Pro Tools as my main format. Sometimes I'll try starting with drums or something with samples. Maybe I'll start with instruments or melodies or just a concept. Then I'll put it in the mixer and hit blend and it kind of falls apart. I'll resample everything again as much as possible until it starts to take shape. Sometimes I think of it as a sculpture where you have a whole wall of sound and you chip away at it until it becomes your music.
T: How much of the material is found sound as opposed to your own created stuff?
D: It's difficult because when I'm in a record store or listening to your radio show, I'll hear a sample of something and it just strikes me. That's found sound. Then sometimes I'll use methods for making some sounds, randomly generated sound from old synthesized sound. Sometimes it even sounds better than the beats I've been working on so I'll abandon some beats and let the crackle go where the drums would be. Sometimes it's better that way.
T: That crackle again, going back to the idea of noise. Some years ago that crackle was taboo.
D: That was the enemy.
T: The crackle should not be there. I used to clean my records before I played them and now Christian Marclay will scratch them up before he plays them. [laughs]
D: A famous Dj set that Aphex Twin did was to drop the needle on to sandpaper and let that play. It's a physical manifestation of sound that just happens to be pure destruction for the needle.
T: Just have a fresh supply of needles nearby, huh?
D: Hopefully the next Dj didn't have to work with those.
T: Do you sample off CDs much?
D: No, I've attempted, but I'm more of a vinyl person. There's an affinity for seeing the sound. With CDs it's more difficult. But at the end of the day you can do whatever you want with whatever you have as long as there's a little technology and gumption to get your hands dirty. But really, there's something about seeing the pictures on the vinyl and seeing the sound in the grooves.
T: Many times you need a magnifying glass to read the text of CDs.
D: It's cool how much music you can have on a CD and DVD audio. It puts an interesting pressure on the artist trying to do music. Basically you're filling up a format when you put out a record. You do 60 minutes on CD because 73 minutes is a little long but 45 minutes might be a little short so 60 minutes is the goal. When DVD audio becomes available, you can fit two or three hours. Is that what a full length record is going to become? Is it going to become an epic journey where you have to drop strange hallucinogenic drugs just to get through the whole 18 hour performance recording?
T: It turns into a chore.
T: Let's listen to one of your pieces.
D: I'm going to do something that utilizes my normal busy sound. This is an ode to technicolor movies.