All my friends in LA are always talking about mashed yeast and weird hippy shit, but they're also talking about the Low End Theory, a weekly club night that nurtured the cream of LA, San Francisco, and Tokyo's electronic crop. Here I'm talking about heavyweights like the Gaslamp Killer, Nosaj Thing, and a bunch of people I haven't heard of yet because I'm stuck in New York worrying about under market apartments and cut-rate cigarettes.
My favorite person to come out of that whole thing is easily Daedelus (nee Alfred Weisberg-Roberts), an electronic producer who pioneered the use of the Monome in electronic music. If you aren't aware, the Monome is button-grid electronic instrument that looks like this. This spring, Daedelus is packing Ryan Hemsworth, Salva, and Two Fresh, and Samo Sound Boy into a bus and driving around North America on the Magical Properties Bus Tour. We'll be seeing them in New Orleans when they pop into the BUKU Music and Art Project on March 8 and 9. I called up Daedelus to chat about New Orleans, the state of electronic music, and feeding off the blood of the audience (not literally).
Noisey: Hi, is this Alfred?
Daedelus: Speaking! Thank you so much for taking a moment to talk to me today!
Of course! I really appreciate it. I wanted to talk to you about some New Orleans stuff, some electronic stuff, and I'll try to make it really quick. I don't really like long interviews, and I'm sure you don't either.
I mean, I hear what you're saying about long interviews, but at the same time, it's awfully good to get a few points across, and that's hard in really minute interviews. I'm just saying, it doesn't have to be a second.
Haha, OK cool. We'll shoot for an hour-long interview then. So you're going over to BUKU this year?
Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. It's got a fantastic line-up. Plus, we're stopping our Magical Properties tour in New Orleans, which will be great. I only recently started hanging out in New Orleans through the lens of playing shows. It's an amazing city, although when I first went I was just holed up in a Best Western or something, hearing gunshots outside. Not that that's so different from LA. New Orleans is a really crazy city, and it parties really hard. Alcohol is kinda sloshing everywhere, and the mixture of vomit and seawater is in your nostrils. But it's a city for culture like no other: There's really no parallel. I've travelled a lot, but I've had the best meals of my life in New Orleans, and I don't mean that lightly.
What was the best New Orleans food you ate?
Definitely frogs legs. I would have never ever thought I'd have frog legs, or that it'd be the best meal of my life. There you go.
I've never been to New Orleans before. Do you have any recommendations for a first timer?
Bring your galoshes! It really depends on what you wanna get into. It's a trouble city, and like all trouble cities, it depends on how much you're willing to engage. But it's all there. I'm not trying to scare or incite, I'm just saying it can be very, very real, in an exhilarating fashion.
I'll come prepared. Do you have any interest in the music that comes out of that city?
Well, yes and no. I love regional dance music, the contained, compressed scenes that seem to be created on their own. That's why I'm interested in Big Freedia, and all that wave of dancey hip-hop booty-bass crossover. It's not that this stuff interests me so much, but it's awesome to hear those BPMs coming out in a different way. It's like Gabber in the Netherlands or something. You can't deny the energy, but it's just not my heartbeat. I'm much more interested in New Orleans jazz. That's a heritage tradition, and every New Orleans festival contains elements of that. It's interesting to note that we can talk about Big Freedia and stuff, but in the same breath we can speak about Telephone Tel Aviv or Nine Inch Nails, who are also from that city. The same city that produces heritage jazz is also producing cutting edge industrial music from way back when. I have no idea how the city did that. It might be the cost of living, or something in the drinking water.
All my friends who live in New Orleans are living totally wild and free. Not really like that in New York, where I live.
I always joke about the fact that when you're in New York, you're always having threesomes. In the sense that whoever's having sex in the apartment next to you, you're basically in the room with them. It gets a little messy.
Daedelus is really smart, well-spoken, and kind, and you sort of have to hear his voice to get that. Watch this video from NWMA to get an idea of what I mean.
So tell me about the Magical Properties Bus Tour.
Well, the idea was to focus and showcase a club night as something that doesn't lay flat and die at the end of the evening. There's something wonderful about electronic music where it can be anonymous, but I like performers, and Salva, Ryan, Two Fresh… they have big personalities. Samo as well, of course. His crazy hairdo has enough personality on its own.
Yeah, I went to college with that dude. Hi Sam!
[Laughs] I'm looking forward to rolling with him.
Do you think this tour represents some kind of electronic music zeitgeist? Or, I guess I should ask, can you tell me where were at right now in terms of what you and the artists on this tour are working on?
Sure! I think the tour is all good examples of where the zeitgeist is taking us. There was a period of time when 140 BPM was so fast in people’s imaginations that no DJ would dare to go there. Either they would jump to 180 in a drum and bass way, and it felt halftime, or they’d be simmering around 120, maybe pushing 125 or 130. And these are just mechanicals, but it’s true, DJs were literally afraid of pushing the BPM. And then electro comes along and its all 140, and dubstep as well, and it’s like people are very happy to be DJing in that space. Salva, a lot of what he’s doing is 150, 160, and Ryan is predominantly slower but still felt even differently. I’m getting to know them, through bits and pieces committing to touring with them is not something you do lightly. You never know how people are going to react on the road. The road is a strange place. It is a beast and in some cases like Ryan Hemsworth, this is his first nationwide tour. I’m honored to be getting to know him. I’m getting to know his sound, and him as a person. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be doing this whole tour. I feel really lucky. I can’t say that enough. I feel very lucky.
It's so nice to hear you say that. So many people begrudge the experience of touring. It's great to hear that even after you've been doing this for so long, you're still able to find a strong sense of inspiration from the people you're working with.
It also does help that i can feed off the blood of the audience. That's a good thing. Fresh, young blood.
Great. That's exactly where I want to end this interview. Thanks Daedelus!
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