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Tell us about yourself! How did you become a musician and get to where you are today?
I started playing the trombone in the fourth grade, which is where I learned how to read music. A few years later I started making midi files and learned through trial and error the basics of music theory. Ever since then, I've always been interested in computer music and sound. That paired with my love of performing let me to touring.
Many artists that we talk to don't like to use labels or be put into sub genres, but as a songwriter do you see yourself as a storyteller, composer, or just a guy making bangin’ beats for the kids to dance to?
I tell people I make electronic music that you dance to but that isn't made for clubs. It's more like music that would play in that punk bar The Chipmunks go to but if The Chipmunks merged with The Jetson's timeline.
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I'd get one of those big hats with the dry spot for my prince cards.
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What items MUST you have with you on tour?
My prince cards and a dry spot for them.
What do you expect on your upcoming tour with Miley Cyrus?
I try to never have expectations; they are the root of disappointment.If I walk into a situation open-minded and open to any outcome, the experience tends to be much more rewarding no matter the outcome.
What is the role of vocals in your music? Are they just another instrument or a means of communicating something more?
Lyrics are the only instrument that has the ability to convey a direct narrative. Other instruments can imply emotion but clearly pianos suck at talking. So lately I've been trying to explore the added layer of content that voice has over other instruments.
Most of your albums have been made without a long list of featured artists or collaborators. Has collaboration been a part of your music making and do you see any projects outside of "Dan Deacon" in the future?
America was made with quite a few people and, at one point, I toured with an all live ensemble ranging from 13 to 35 people. I love working with other people just as much as I love working alone and since this summer I've been performing with the amazing musician Jeremy Hyman on the drums. I also see my crew as members of the ensemble. Patrick McMinn on the lights and Albert Schatz mixing my sound are such vital collaborators.
As far as side projects: I have a side project called Pardalince Bird and Stint Riddler but both are very inactive. I'm DJing a lot more these days which is a nice change of pace from my live electronics
One of the things that I love about your music is a certain momentum and sense of inevitability that carries through the album and creates a beautiful sonic tension -- especially on tracks like "Learning to Relax" and "Snookered," where this conflict seems to complement the storytelling. Is this intensity and momentum something that you feel in your own life and is it something that you have seen change as you have matured as a musician?
Thank you so much! A lot of my music is an exploration of anxiety, the interplay of focusing on it in both healthy and unhealthy ways, as well as trying to escape it, again in both positive ways or trying to merely escaping it for a brief moment with attempts at euphoria.
What media have you been consuming lately and how do you like to consume your media? Any great network sitcoms or new comedians that we are missing out on?
I'm reading the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It should be required reading for every American. It's a real masterpiece.
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, Dan! Be sure to snag tix for Dan's upcoming show at Echostage here!