Darwin Deez: ‘There’s power in that kind of song writing that I try to opt for’

Indie-popster Darwin Deez speaks to about touring, songwriting, and York’s disappointing tourist attractions

Image: Rodrigo Esper

Image: Rodrigo Esper

Sipping on fizzy water, sporting sweatpants, a zipped up hoodie and a trucker’s hat, his famous curls tucked away, I met Darwin Deez backstage at Duchess. He greeted me, not making much eye contact or initiating a handshake, and then sat down and we began the interview.

So how is it all going so far?

Well, band members are changing, just often enough to make it so that the first priority is to put a set together of songs, and the second priority is to do enough so we can stay entertained for two months of touring.

Yeah, that’s a long time.

It’s longer if you are only playing the same songs…

You’re starting your tour up in the North of England and then you’re making your way down the country and then into Europe – Italy, Austria, Germany, finishing off in the United States. Are you returning to places you’ve been before?

Oh yeah, almost all of them. I haven’t been to Italy yet…

What has been your favourite country to play a gig in?

If I had to choose one, it would probably be Germany. I really like German design, it really impressed me…I like the way things work over there. They work the way they should.

I went to the Shambles. I was massively disappointed the first time I went

Have you had a look around York today?

I went to the Shambles. I was massively disappointed the first time I went, but this time I knew what to expect. The trees here are looking better than ever, York is looking very beautiful this time of year.

Do you get much of a chance to explore the cities you tour around?

No, there is downtime, but it’s not enough downtime to adventure places, especially as half the time the venues aren’t near anything.

So how do you find a good balance between the newer songs and the older popular songs?

Well, it’s easy from the second album because there are four which I feel are worth playing, one of those four we played every single show in 2012. Then it’s easy to take about five from the first record, and that only leaves enough for about three new songs.

What’s your favourite song to perform?

Anything we haven’t played in the last week.

I think that I am an egocentric person and that creativity is an outlet for that

What was your inspiration for ‘Bad Day’, as it seems very bitter?

I had a co-worker who didn’t include me on the shopping list for the shop around the corner to get drinks during the shift for everybody, and among other things he was really difficult to work with. At the same time my mum was having trouble with the neighbour…she had a confrontation with him, so it just kind of inspired me…I think it’s kind of a ‘no-no’ to create a list song, which means a song whose verses are composed of a list of things, rather than a song which establishes a specific environment and paints a picture using specific nouns that you would find in an environment. Like if I say a spinning gyroscope, you can see the way it moves, whereas if I just say a top, you might just picture the shape of it. There’s power in that kind of song writing that I try to opt for, so it didn’t get there for ‘Bad Day’. People always ask me who’s Jenny in the song, and I have let a lot of people down by telling them it’s made up. It just seems real because it’s so specific.

‘Kill Your Attitude’ is one of the lead singles of Double Down; the video is unique and features a video-game style production. Was this an idea you had for the video as you wrote the song?

The truth about the music videos, to let people down again, is that I haven’t come up with those ideas. I have plenty of ideas for music videos but the ones that we’ve shot have come from the directors that we’ve hired. Because when you’re on a small budget, we can’t afford to pay the directors enough to be the boss of them…they always have great ideas, and we trust the people with the great ideas; we hire who we want to hire.

Do you feel that because of the way sharing music and experiencing music has changed so much, i.e. people mainly use things like YouTube to listen to music, that the video is an extension of the music itself and in that way is very important to the overall vibe you are trying to portray?

No, the video is its own thing, the song is its own thing. They don’t have anything to do with each other in my mind; the song is born first so it’s a complete entity.

Image: Lee Gwyn

Image: Lee Gwyn

Do you feel that you are a particularly creative person? Did you always think that you would end up as an artist of some kind?

I think that I am an egocentric person and that creativity is an outlet for that, a good outlet for the ego. I also like gaming and stuff, so that is a breeding ground for ego. But I would say I do have some creativity, I have some attention deficit.

What has been one of the biggest challenges for you so far?

The biggest challenge currently is to sell fewer records than the debut; that’s challenging, it takes a lot of faith. It’s easier to have faith when nothing good has happened to you, and it’s harder when you think ‘yeah we have had some really good luck’…

Do you have a particular interest in physics as a lot of your songs like ‘Red Shift’, ‘Up in the Clouds’ and ‘Constellations’ suggest that you do?

I’m probably more interested in metaphysics…I’m not an atheist so I don’t think science is everything but my name is a scientific name, but the reality is it was given to me because my parent’s guru from India was called Darwin, so they’re not crazy excited about science. I think science is amazing, it’s beautiful, from the pythagorean theorem to stuff that surprises you. Everything like the structure of certain molecules.

What are the plans for after the tour?

The year is open for more shows, maybe some more records.

One comment

  1. there are a few mistakes here and all of my answers are paraphrased/rewritten. the guru’s name is meher baba, not darwin. darwin was an older disciple of the guru. i don’t own any sweatpants. i don’t say the words ‘mum’ or ‘massively’ as i am american. the writer must have been under some pressure to deliver this piece! unfortunately i don’t think very much of ‘me’ came across here.

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