Under the "Personals" section at the electronic music producer Daedelus' website, there's a sad little notice:
Penniless in Tinseltown, April 4th. Saw you in the record bin at Amoeba
Hollywood. You were that 12" of Slum Village, we said hello but I never
could get past the pricetag. I'd like to see you again, please be there.
So goes the single-minded life and times of the sampling musician. The hugely prolific LA producer ๑ he seems to have a 7" or EP out on just about any label you can think of ๑ has just released Of Snowdonia a shimmering, nostalgic pastiche of classical violins, children's voices and snippets of accordian, all laced up in squiggling ribbons of beats. It's his best album yet, though it's difficult to know how long that kind of title can last, with a dozen albums and compilation appearances already clogging up the pipeline. Junkmedia recently pried Daedelus away from his equipment long enough to ask him some questions.
Here's a fairly nerdy question - but is the name Daedelus from James Joyce?
My nom de plume is partially from Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist" and
mentionable in "Ulysses," but most people jump to the Greek reference in
Daedelus (Inventor and father to Icarus). A rare few see the Macros plus /
Robotech influence in their spacecraft Daedelus (part of the SDF-1). All of
these together hopefully makes this one moniker work for some of the
differing sounds I produce, instead of a multitude of random names. Maybe
it's because I've lived all my life in Los Angeles (more specifically Santa
Monica), to my downfall as being a band/orchestra dork, a RPG geek, and a
hopeless romantic. So much of that has changed, but the city is the same
(now in neighboring Venice). One note, I used to lie about being born in Wales, all through-out
my childhood. I really love the country, and I do have family from there,
but now that I have a record called Of Snowdonia I have to drop the
pretense and accept the truth I'm a wannabe Welshman.
Do you begin to see connections between certain things you lift? I feel like there's a lot of children's records buried in Snowdonia. Is there a metaphor to the continuity of the samples?
Thank you for using such kind words. Really thank you, sometimes I
can be counted as no better then my collection of records. Each record I've
done is kind of a selection of instruments and samples that somehow spring
to me from a common source. 1930's movie soundtracks with 60's soul.
Brazilian bossa with early 80's Hip Hop. And always children's records, lots
of spoken word, and soundtracks. Those records, to me, take the most musical chances, leaving moments that while they might not sustain, I can tease out into a song or reduce to an instance.
Thinking about samples, what do you think of the new Madvillain (the collaboration between MF Doom and Madlib)? There's a sense I get that people are ga-ga over Madlib's samples -- and one of them is a sample of you!
It's been the greatest honor to be sampled by such a talented musician. The connection stems from a record I did called "the Quiet Party," with that Madlib remix, I think he heard the song "Experience" then.
What did you grow up listening to, and what was that album that
made your brain go "click": and you knew you were going to be the
kind of musician you are today?
Earliest albums were the Parliament Funkadelic, and George Clinton
catalogues, if you can believe it. A friend of the family was their manager
during the early eighties and I was crazy for it at the age of five. But
really the turning point was a record by Acen called "Trip to the Moon part
1." I suddenly saw the possibility for moving electronic music, even though
it was a crazy Rave-up anthem. Everything I do is somehow based around that song, that period.
What's the album you've sampled the most?
Listen to the collected work ofึ Wait a second, I can't answer this
question. It's not magic unless you are forced to guess which parts are
samples and which are live instruments. And then the subsequent crate
digging thru record bins and your finding a sample I've already used, and go "It's just this?" I guess that's just the madvillian in me...
How does your live performances differ from your albums?
I have the thought that live music should be live, someone struggling to make the music good in front of you. So awhile ago, an old friend by the name of Tehn developed this amazing midi controller / software (check it out at
www.nnnnnnnn.org) that I use. It allows me to really play my samples, so the
performances can go in completely unexpected improvised directions, which
can be good or bad, but are at least live. Unfortunately that usually means
a listener won't get the record as it was presented on CD. I guess that's
what the CD is for.
What kind of schedule do you have when you're making music?
Music is my full time occupation right now, so it's an always present part.
Wake up, work on some tracks, do some martial arts, music, maybe a show, more music late night. Hopefully it's a fulfilling schedule, it certainly is good to keep the releases rolling out.
Where do you start making a song? With the beats?
It's always different, sometimes I'll pull a record, sometimes it's a melody
on bass clarinet or synth, not as often it's environmental. It's even been a
random elephant sound my girlfriend made (to her embarrassment see the song
"Doorbell" on he Household EP).
Is college still a wise decision for a young person today?
For music, I think people should skip college nowadays. The best work is to be done with making music all day, not learning how to make a grade. Of
course, one should never give up learning, and being able to read music is an
underrated ability, but it's easy enough to get to your local library and do
some research. I'm not really being forthcoming, I went to school for 5
years, so perhaps I can't recommend against it, but I do wish I had that
time back now (perhaps I could have released in 1996?)
What do you think of the
new scenario, with Anticon and Lex and Mush doing some of the most
far out stuff, really testing the real limits of genre. I wonder if
you feel a strong affinity, or if you'd prefer your music be
considered under different terms?
I'm not sure, but I think people consider my music apart from underground HipHop, certainly the Weather is solidly grounded in that territory with
emcees Busdriver and Radioinactive among others participating.
wish I could make this or that kind of music, it would be so much easier to
talk about what I do. Every time I start to work, it always begins with a
hope to supply the song that will define me as this or that, you know a
classic of "blah," but it always seems out of my reach. Lately I've been
liking the term "Romantic" music. It
remains to be seen what listeners think of it.
What does it mean these days to be avant-garde?
That's a sticky wicket of a term now. Most often for me it invokes an artist
who is concept based as that is the current fashion, one trick ponies, but
the true avant-garde should be ahead of observation until after the work in
question has long been completed. Just as rare as genius I suppose, or
tangle in one another.
Do you think it's possible for someone like Morton Subotnick to
anticipate Autechre? When does a composer write the future more than
Again a genius or "work of genius" is outside the present enough to reach
into the future or past, changing history or the course of the oncoming. So
perhaps Subotnick conjured Autechre? I think an easier argument is we are
talking about Subotnick more now that people like Autechre have pulled so
much from Subotnick's world of sound. They need each other.
How important are the opinions of critics and people you've never met
on how you make your music? Do you feel any kind of frustration about
how people write about your music? Do you read the online magazines
like Junkmedia? Is The Wire magazine still important in the eyes of
most musicians like yourself?
It's important to connect with listeners somehow, and right now, with very
little radio play and record store presence, the most direct route to a
listener is through the words of a critic. I can only do so much to
connect with my listeners, hopefully more so when I get a new website up.
But I rely terribly much on the words of strangers who usually have their
own agenda, fitting the music in their version of history, of this or that
"important music." Perhaps this is a jab at magazines like The Wire. I'm both
indebted to and at ends with this kind of coverage. I just wish someone
would give my music a great term or good word, that could give me time to
work on releasing more music.
May 19, 2004