2010 Artist Survey: Dan Deacon | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2010 Artist Survey: Dan Deacon

Dec 10, 2010 Dan Deacon Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 8th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2010. Pick up a copy of Under the Radar’s Year End issue for interviews with: The Antlers, Bon Iver, Caribou, Club 8, Delphic, Rose Elinor Dougall, Gayngs, Hot Chip, Lost in the Trees, Love is All, The Love Language, Mogwai, of Montreal, Okkervil River, Yoko Ono, Owen Pallett, Plants and Animals, Mark Ronson, Superchunk, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Sharon Van Etten, and Vivian Girls. Here’s a survey from Dan Deacon.

Top 10 Albums of 2010

1. Future Islands: In Evening Air

2. Dope Body: Saturday

3. Womme: Rog

4. Lower Dens: Twin-Hand Movement

5. Height with Friends: Bed of Seeds

6. Daniel Higgs: Say God

7. Charanjit Singh: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (reissue)

8. Instant Coffee: Instant Coffee!

9. Omar Souleyman: Jazeera Nights

10. Salamander Wool: Lunarsophic Somnambulist

What was the highlight of 2010 for either you personally or for the band?

I played two festivals this year that really changed the way I think about music and performance. The first festival was Campus A Low Hum in New Zealand, just a really great time and a well-thought-out concept. The second was High Zero in Baltimore. High Zero is an improvisation-based festival where players who have never met before are paired up to improvise together. It was an amazing experience. Playing in High Zero really awoke a sleeping beast inside me. I’ve been feeling much more excited about music than I have in years.

What was the low point of 2010 for you?

February and March were very rough for me. My back was still in back shape from herniating a disc, my relationship fell apart, and Baltimore was covered in snow and basically shut down. They were dark times.

What are your hopes and plans for 2011?

2011 will start with three pretty big projects. In January I have a suite of new pieces being premiered by So Percussion at the Merkin Concert Hall in NYC. In February my first performance of a piece for an orchestra will happen at the Conrad Centre for the Performing arts by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Kitchener, On. And right after that LEMUR is bringing me a ton of their robotic instruments for me to experiment and compose with. So I’m hoping 2011 is a productive year of musical expansion for me.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s job performance in the last year? Has your optimism, if you were an Obama supporter, waned?

The hope was a lie.

What are your thoughts on the Tea Party movement?

While I disagree with a lot of their philosophical platforms, I think its great a new party could rise and challenge the current one-party-disguised-as-two system. Any crack in that system would be great and open the way for other parties to rise up.

With the Internet making every artist’s music potentially available to a wide audience, is it now easier to find listeners or more difficult because you have to compete with so many other musicians?

Music isn’t a competition. It’s great that people have access to so much music. It’s making the musicians try harder to showcase their own voice to stand out amongst the masses.

Who would you rather listen to—a totally original musician whose compositions are groundbreaking but difficult to listen to or a musician whose songs are immediately enjoyable but derivative? Why?

The latter. But in my option music should be original, challenging to the listener, and enjoyable. Two out of three ain’t bad either, but merely immediately enjoyable is like candy and merely difficult is a study, not an art. I like my sweets with my meats when it comes to music. With that said, most pop music is about the instant and the gratification. It’s about a fleeting shape and taste that fits the moment and that moment’s mood. But that really only works as furniture music on the dance floor, at a party, or while driving in your car, or in the background. Someone like Brian Eno, David Bowie, and Talking Heads realized that, and made challenging but comfortable music that was both derivative of their peers and also insanely original and groundbreaking. That’s why they still continue to inspire today and worked as pop original contemporary.

In the race to find new bands, are too many unworthy bands being hyped up by music blogs and websites? How are music fans supposed to filter through all these new bands being hyped?

They should just go to more local shows and read less of “the press.” Make their own choices rather than have someone else make them.

If your house was on fire, what would you grab as you were running out?

My girlfriend, a blanket to cover our skin, and this computer.

If you could relive one day of your life, which would it be?

Any day with my mother.

What’s the strangest fan encounter you’ve ever had?

They might read this so I’ll have to pass on this one. Sorry.

If you had a bucket list, what would be the Top 4 things on that list?

I do have a bucket list! Ed Schrader and I have a bucket list. I actually own bucketlistparty.com for when we throw our bucket list party. Wham City became obsessed with the bucket list for some time earlier in the year.

Is there anything that most people are able to do that you can’t (such as drive a car, swim, ride a bike)?

I cannot legally drive a car, but I am permitted to learn.

Have you ever been starstruck when meeting another musician? If so, by who?

The first time I met the guys in Lightning Bolt I was totally starstruck. It’s weird how I went on tour with them this year. That was a dream come true. They are such awesome people.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you?

I became a duck for about 40 hours. The transition was painless, but then an awful feeling swept over me. I tried to escape via the ladder, but if I touch it, the rungs vanished. The teeth smiled back at me with a menacing glare but I knew they were harmless. I tried to fly but had no idea how to properly control my new set of bones and muscles, so I ended up hurting one of my arm/wings. After that there was a gathering, a great growing of moss, stint riddler. Ask Dave.

What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to you in the last year?

Most of my write-ups.

What or whom do you miss most when you’re touring?

I miss my girlfriend and my studio. Both give me balance and keep me the right kind of insane.

When you think of the future, what scares you most?

The people in it.

Do you (or did you) have any pets? If so, can you tell us about them? Who takes care of your pets while you are on tour?

I don’t have pets because I tour so much. I live with Buttercup, the cat of Gerrit [Welmers] (Future Islands’ keyboardist). It loves to shit on the floor when he is gone.

What are your thoughts on chillwave? Do you feel that it’s a legitimate genre/movement or something simply created by music journalists? In general, do you feel that most scenes/movements are organic or are created by the media?

I think it’s a little of both. Music called chillwave obviously exists. But it’s also obvious that the music press needs to focus on the new and the now, and sometimes the new and the now might need a push, a branding or an artificial buzz to help get it out there so there is something big to write about.

What do you predict will be the next big social change?


In 2010, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?

Movie: Total Recall on 35mm at the Maryland film festival. Book: Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise (Just started it, super excited!). Comic book: Dina Kelberman: Important Comics: A Collection of Unquestionable Merit. Video game: Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball for Super Nintendo.

Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?




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April 16th 2014

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