Don’t Drop The Beat Until You See “The Whites Of These Kids’ Eyes”: Talking Shop With Daedelus
By Bailey Pennick; Featured Photo By Brendan Goco, Other By Gari Askew on March 29, 2013
“Adjectives are a very scary thing when it comes to music, it’s very, very difficult, and I don’t envy your task, because the audio never translates to words—and it’s never meant to—but we depend on you so much to make sure that the right adjectives get used. It’s so hard nowadays; hard to just get ears to listen. That’s why I’m so proud of these nights. Hopefully we can get people in whatever state they need to be in.”
Within ancient Greek mythology, Daedalus was known far and wide as one of the most innovative and knowledgeable craftsmen around—building not only the elaborate labyrinth that held the dreaded Minotaur, but also a huge area for King Minos’ daughter Ariadne to dance freely. He was meticulous, ambitious, highly intelligent and incredibly determined with every task that man, or the gods, gave him. When thinking about Santa Monica native Alfred Darlington, better known by his electronica alias Daedelus, it’s not hard to see the similarities between the currently touring artist and the fabled winged artisan.
“I’m hoping for things to impact me. I’m a music fan first before a musician,” explains Darlington recently on the phone when asked about his plans for the latest Magical Properties tour he’s curated (the fourth to be exact). “I mean that’s what got me to this place; putting my ear to the ground and really enjoying the sounds that came from it—whether it is ‘90s rave, or the expansion of it, and weird micro genres. I just love seeing the ways that it expresses itself.”
This musical passion and drive for learning is what has pushed Darlington to continue making music even after eleven full-length releases, a large collection of EPs, a myriad of collaborations and remixes. He still has that spark, or perfect “friction” as he puts it, that keeps the records coming; “Electronica is a very heady thing because all the frequencies and all the waves of expression at your fingertips. While it can be really sad to be alone in a room, working on this music, it’s a very freeing thing. I still feel like I have something to say.”
Starting his musical journey in the realms of Jazz, Darlington was educated at USC’s Thornton School of Music, but quickly became disenchanted with the seemingly “free” quality of the genre.
“I was sold on this lie that anything was possible in Jazz; that the world was open and free! But being there you learned that it’s a series of scales and chords, and as you learned the theory, it gets more and more broken down until the magic kind of leaves the room. Don’t get me wrong, amazing musicians can make anything sing, but all too often, it’s going through these routines and the language becomes more and more simple until you realize—‘Wow, I’m doomed to play “The Girl From Ipanema” forever in some form!’”
Once Darlington shed the double bass major and picked up the Monome, he felt the freedom of expression and innovation through music again, which he says gets amplified around other musicians that he respects. The Magical Properties tours were born: “I hadn’t been on the road for a minute and was trying to work on music and you want to find similar minded people to kind of build with—to do something kind of significant, because there are so many tours that seem like a drop in a bucket, empty nights full of alcohol, and I’m looking forward to doing runs with people who have a similar mindset as me and really want to create something.”
“Creating something” through these collaborative tours has had a major impact on Darlington, “It’s huge for me. Beyond what it means for the night, and the audience that comes, touring is kind of like a slow combustion… it can be stressful. I’ve done a lot of touring now with others and it can be a pressure cooker. It seems like the friction is right in this case to bring something to the table…and like we all are not going to die [laughs]!”
Darlington is always looking for his musical freedom (his makeshift wings if you will), but he’s incredibly content and capable of tapping into his stream of consciousness just about anywhere with a laptop and a good power source. “Being in the studio alone, desperate for a creative impulse, is wonderful; it’s such an amazing experience. That hunger is incredible and I don’t feel any restrictions,” insists Darlington. “But when I’m playing live, it’s a wonderful place to temper that addiction and when you see the whites of these kids eyes and you’re charged with this responsibility them! To live or die on that is an incredible experience.”
Balancing his always racing mind—with ideas for new beats, new vibrations and new loops—with the rhythmic desires of a raveonous pack of sweaty children keeps Darlington on his toes, and surprisingly optimistic. “I really like to tailor my sets around the expectations are in a room, be it people requesting my songs, or people wanting to have a really crazy night listening to other people’s music,” he emphatically insists. “I don’t know…I feel like I’m kind of capable of that. I like taking requests! I know that’s kind of foolish [laughs] but I love doing it, and sometimes I get really crazy requests! I’ve been at some crazy EDM events—like really raveityrave kind of things—and someone has come up to me and been like ‘I really want to hear some David Bowie.’ And I LOVE that I can try to do that! Honestly it will probably fall apart, but that one kid will get his David Bowie!”
Even with all the innovation, production and branching out, Darlington strives to remember that electronica is, above all, meant to get people sweating on the dance floor: “It’s such a funny abstract that you still have to worry about how it’s going to make people move in a room. Because ultimately it is still dance music, electronic dance music. A lot of times I like to make kind of sad music, but if you put the right beat behind it, it can be anything.”
When the Magical Properties 4 Tour rolls into LA’s own Fonda Theater this evening, Darlington, with Samo Sound Boy, Salva, Ryan Hemsworth and Two Fresh in tow, will be ready to throw his labyrinth-like set plans out the window in favor of an undeniable spark. “Maybe at the beginning of this tour I’ll have a game plan,” says Darlington half-jokingly, but entirely skeptical of his best laid plans.
“I know that this will explode the minute that I start hearing the others play their music. I’m going to be jealous! It’s going to be great.” F