The self-produced artist makes his way to DC yet again, today @ Black Cat, for promotion of his self-titled debut album (which has been making us decidedly happy since February 22nd). BYT caught up with the poodle lock sporting, happy-go-lucky, Baba Lover to discuss who exactly is Darwin Deez? (p.s. this interview is a rerun from February this year-ed)
BYT: Darwin Deez—please explain for me where the name ‘Deez’ originated; it would seem like all of your bandmates have since adopted the pseudonym.
Darwin Deez: My best friend and bandmate Michelle Dorrance came up with the name—it’s a nickname that just sort of stuck.
BYT: You attended Wesleyan University—what did you study while there, or was music always a passion for you?
DD: I don’t know, I hated college—I took one music class, but I didn’t get much out of it.
BYT: I understand your parents bought you your first guitar at the age of 11, and drums at 16—have they always pushed you towards music?
DD: Yah, well they wanted me to stay in school—they weren’t too happy about that part, but overall they’ve been supportive.
BYT: For young up-and-coming artists/bands, what is your take on waiting post university vs following your dreams? I just think of acts like Chester French and John Mayer—they represent both ends of the argument.
DD: I can’t really give one answer to that, as it’s different for everyone—all I can really say is follow your heart.
BYT: The Creaky Boards—for those unfamiliar, they had a bit of a legal snafu with Coldplay over a plagiarism accusation—how do you think your experience with them has shaped your sound?
DD: No, but it did give me a lot of experience in terms of booking, getting out there, self-promotion, etc—but not in terms of creative stuff.
BYT: Do you ever miss working with them?
DD: I have Andrew Hoepfner playing bass in my current band, after having playing bass for him—so I don’t miss it, because I have him with me.
BYT: According to your bio, Darwin Deez took about two and a half years to produce, and all on your own merits. Tell me about it.
DD: It was really fulfilling, exhausting, but fulfilling. I’m not really sure what to do on the next one; this one was such a time intensive, and labor intensive process–I like to be in control of everything, so I really do prefer that. I’ll probably do as much of it myself as I can on the next album. It was really meditative, really cool; I got to really focus in on the ideas I was excited about, and that’s really what fueled it. I wouldn’t do it a different way, I’d do it again for sure.
BYT: Reaching #3 on the UK Indie Charts is quite a feat, not to mention being named one of NME magazine’s top 10 coolest bands—were you expecting such success when you decided to cross the pond?
DD: No, it was a big surprise! I was expecting it to happen at some point, maybe in another four or five years, but not that early.
BYT: I’m sure the success the album received in the UK had to be extremely validating—what emotions do you have taking the leap into the US markets?
DD: I guess it makes me anxious a little bit—like if there aren’t people at the shows, it makes me feel like it’s not going to happen. We’ve had it happen a few times on the tour, but a lot of them have been surprisingly good, so it’s going well.
BYT: You’re playing your hometown of Chapel Hill, NC in a couple days—how’s it feel to get a chance to go back home?
DD: Well, we get a day off after the Chapel Hill gig, and then about a month of downtime in April after the tour; I’ll be spending much of that at home.
BYT: It’s been two years of touring, plus the two and a half years of producing the album—where in all this did you find the time to produce a mix-tape, Wonky Beats?
DD: There’s a lot of downtime in the car when we tour—I started it over the summer when we were on tour in Germany, Australia, and Japan. I found it to be really easy to write flipped fun lyrics in those environments.
BYT: It was such a refreshing, cool idea to sample Willy Wonka sound bites—was that your idea?
DD: I thought it was a genius idea, then someone reminded me that Lil Wayne had done that one song (“A Milli”)—we nod to it on the mix-tape (“I Don’t Like The Look” – remix)
BYT: Who’s currently stuck on repeat on your ipod—because I couldn’t let this end without getting into your music library.
DD: Yah, I’m interested in the Trent Reznor soundtrack for “The Social Network”—I didn’t see the movie, but the soundtrack sounded good. I like the new Nine Inch Nails stuff, and this new track from Discovery—I like Ke$ha. I’m getting down into the Outkast stuff, I finally have more of an appreciation for Andre 3000’s old Outkast raps. They’re a bit too rapid fire for me now, but now that I’ve developed more of a taste for that scene, I’m really big into them.
Before our conversation got cut short—lame Google Voice—Darwin filled me in on a passion of his… Baba Loving.
DD: It’s kind of a rare scene for the guys in the band to experience—usually Meher Baba which is something that people are curious about that are in my life. People don’t really ever get a chance to understand or experience it, and I think the only way is through Baba Loving, and meeting the other people. But the people are all spread out across the country and around the world…