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Interviewed by
Martyn Pepperell
Wednesday 17th June, 2015 1:32PM

When Los Angeles-based producer, DJ, instrumentalist and live electronic music performer Daedelus (aka Alfred Darlington) was in his teens, he went on a family holiday to the UK. While there, Daedelus was captivated by the bass and rave sounds of pirate radio. After returning to America, he played in jazz, rock and ska bands before eventually realising DJing, production and live electronic performance were the ways forward for him.

Since then, he's released well-loved and challenging records on Plug Research, Mush Records, Laboratory Instinct, Ninja Tune, Brainfeeder, Alpha Pup Records, Eastern Developments and Anticon Records, along the way earning himself a cult live following across the globe. Last year Brainfeeder records released The Light Brigade, Daedelus' fifteenth studio album. A successor to his 2009 Righteous Fists of Harmony (an EP inspired by the Boxer Rebellion), The Light Brigade recalls the Crimean war of 1853-56. The music was written and recorded before the recent troubles broke out in that region, a turn of events which lends an air of requiem to the album.

A year-and-a-half after his last New Zealand tour, Daedelus returns for three shows across Christchurch, Wellington and Aucklandthis month. UnderTheRadar talked to him about staying involved, levels of success, live performance, and the dynamic between what he does on record and on stage...

UTR: I'm not sure, is this your fourth time coming back to New Zealand? I'm consistently impressed by how you're able to keep internationally involved in music as a recording artist and performer while doing what you do on an underground level. What are some of the strategies you employ to keep out there, active and involved?

D: You are kind to say so, but I don't agree. I feel as I'm never doing enough, a weight that there is an endless more to be done. This isn't a gloomy thought; actually it keeps me driven and interested. The underground is always shifting beneath our feet like lava; it's a mess of influences and ways it can surface. So keeping persistent and involved has been my way of continuing this adventure thus far.

You've had, and continue to have, this amazing, super credible career as a musician. Have you ever wanted to take what you do into a more mainstream/pop space, or had the opportunity to? Are you happy with where you are at, or would you like to be bigger?

Bigger seems like it would depart fun, schedules getting even more planned with all invested parties needing say. Not to even speak on the lack of creativity generally in the EDM-y pop space. I know that by standing still or treading water it would be easy to disappear from the wider music conversations, so much churn with the influx of new and fashionable. So I sit just at an edge of contented and hungry. Besides there are such gigs out there that don't know pop from underground, in far-flung places where electronics aren't terribly known quantities, so who's to say.

What are your thoughts on live electronic music performances in 2015? Where do you see things as being at in general? Who stands out to you?

Collectively, electronic music culture is in a tough place. As more DJs take stages with little difference in sound, hardly any performance (does fist pumping count?), but evermore light shows; where does this leave the audience? Are they attending a loud movie? Will they pay for a name on a flyer but the same sing-along songs they heard from another DJ? I much prefer a participating crowd where no single person (performer included) knows how the night will end up. I'm proud to say many of the Los Angeles wave of producers and emcees are grounded in this more performed tradition. Sure there can still be spectacle from lights and the kind but often with Gaslamp Killer or Flying Lotus for instance you feel like the music is present on stage.

For those who aren't familiar, could you explain what you do live, and how you've evolved it since we last saw you?

Coming from a background in jazz I wanted my electronic music to be improvised, at least in a large part. My eureka moment came from witnessing a very early prototype of the Monome: a device that allows for really deep manipulation of sample material. All that is to say, I can do a lot more with my ten fingers than I thought previously possible. Since I last was at Camp A Low Hum (what a wonderfully epic festival that was!) I have been exploring body music. From an intellectual side, I did a T.E.D talk in part about this [see a video of the talk below], but from the performance side I've been more confident with driving rhythm and low bass.

Could you talk about the dynamic and any contrasts between what you do as a recording artist and what you do as a live performer?

I would like the albums to last the test of time and repeat listens. Live, I'm trying just to exist in the evening at hand, and create something conjoined with the audience. This can make for some extremely different moods. Lately, I've been looking for another way. Amidst all the ways we listen and react there must be another. I'll be sure to bring anything I find to the stage or album very soon.

plays three New Zealand shows on the 21st, 24th and 25th of June at Dux Live, Christchurch, Bodega, Wellington and Cassette 9, Auckland, respectively. Head over here for more information and to buy tickets.

We are giving away two single passes to giveaway to his Auckland date at Cassette Nine next Thursday, head over here to enter.


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