When one listens to music by Alfred Darlington, better known as Daedelus, it’s quite easy to catch yourself drifting into a world of imagination and infinite possibilities. Santa Monica-born DJ and producer, Daedelus recognizes creativity and how to intimately touch one’s soul through sound. His unique sense of style and use of a Monome, a minimal box with light-up buttons used to control software and split beats, showcases only a minor ability of what this man is capable of. His electric understanding and incorporation of diverse sounds crafts no beautifully ambient soundscapes, as well as musical concepts most minds could not fathom even in the wildest of dreams. With no intention of halting his music making, Daedelus is a pure example that anything is possible and that we should all strive for our dreams. During this conversation, Daedelus, who recently touched down in Austin, Texas after a tour around Asia, discusses his hopes and intentions, his love for uplifting people, and his undying excitement towards his second show in Hawai‘i.
You were just in Asia, how was that?
It was amazing; there were a lot of new markets for me, if that doesn’t sound to clinical. Southeast Asia, Middle Asia, North Asia, and Oceania like Australia and New Zealand. … The whole world is just developing. It’s amazing what people’s appetites are for different kinds of music. The Internet spreads things; strong advocates of sound has just changed everything.
What inspired you to become a producer?
I was a musician in a more typical sense before. I played instruments, I was in bands, like ensembles and jazz groups and rock bands. Although it’s an amazing experience to play in a group situation, there is something about being a producer—not only alone on stage but also alone in your vinyl-laden space, as mine often is—creating whatever comes to you. There’s no one else, no other pressures, just the unlimited sound palette of a computer or a synthesizer to make you feel intimidated and kind of crazy. Production, it was a calling in that way. I can point at a thousand reasons why I want to make sound my life, but something about being a producer, something about making those vital choices—that is what I am drawn to.
How should people listen to your music?
The listener is as important as the musician because they complete the circuit, if they’re not listening with active ears that are artful—and listening is an art—then the music isn’t being heard.
What would you be doing if you weren’t producing music?
Dead, probably making really bad choices and going down bad roads. Although I had interest in invention and other kinds of creation, I really have no aptitude towards those things. I’m pretty dyslexic; I don’t feel like I got a well-rounded education. I like to dress up in funny ways, so maybe like a rodeo clown or some other ridiculous career path. I do love traveling, maybe something within that component but I doubt it. Probably be a rodeo clown for sure.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your musical career?
When I put out these albums, I love the fact that people put ears on them and take them seriously, but I don’t usually play those albums live. I really think the listening experience of album is sacred. It’s usually you in front of your speakers, or even more intimately, with your headphones on and the music is directly communicating to you. It’s not about a bunch of bodies in a room or the whiff of intoxication on someone’s breath—it’s the song directly pleading to you. Even if it is in a dance format like some of my records are, its still about repeat listenings.
Then the live shows are about as vital as possible, to be in the moment with the audience. If the group wants to move to left, we’re all going to move to the left, otherwise they’re going to rise up and take you down off that stage. So that’s often the biggest challenge, is to not feel like you want to be this one cliché that is easy to sell.
Photo by: Proximal Records
What do you hope people get out of your music?
That people can feel empowered and uplifted to make creative choices themselves or make emotional choices. My secret aim of all the music is to have a core that is really gooey and emotional, when that’s possible, even in the most riotous of dance sets. I usually will go out of my way to bring things down into some stewy, slow jammy, emotional place. Even if it’s orchestral strings as an introduction before a big drop, it’s an opportunity to have this emotional moment. That’s the crux of it, if I can at least achieve some of that as uplift or emotional inspiration, that’s it. Being reduced to a person who just sells alcohol is terrible, but that’s what most gigs are asking of you as a performer. You’re just there to facilitate the movement of alcohol across a bar. Can you imagine making your living doing that? … I don’t think you can sustain a life in that.
Your thoughts on music now days?
I think we are at a golden age. I can’t get over it. Everyday I find new music, and I blunder into it—I’m not even trolling the internet or in the record store all the time. I’m just doing my best to keep my ears open. I Shazam every once in awhile or will go on Soundcloud a little bit. It’s a little intimidating of course as well because there is a mountain of music that already exists, all the classics, club hits, and everything that you need to catch up on. Then there’s all the buried music, the unreleased library records and private presses that are now being uploaded on the Internet because people have those kind of capacity.
Any sound that you might be vaguely interested in—like I want to hear Afrobeat from the Caribbean from the 1970s—you can get all of it. You can just press a button and have all of it. … I am a very small musician. I am making very strange music at times, and I am afforded an opportunity to make a living at this. Almost at any other time in history, this would be impossible. There’s thousands of people like myself who are afforded the opportunity to come to places like Hawai‘i. There are so many different reasons why this is impossible, and yet here we are in a moment that makes it possible.
Are you looking forward to coming to Hawai‘i?
Oh my God, yes. My first show there was a private show, very contained and not really that public. … But I also got time to spend on the Big Island. I was there right before that city got eaten up by recent lava, and a lot of experience that you can’t have anywhere else in the world. That kind of dynamic was really amazing and now I am really excited to come back slightly more learned the geography of the thing but also even more so to play a show that can be really broad.
Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
I have been doing music long enough that I can’t see myself doing anything else, because I really am living a dream, releasing music, playing shows, going new places, trying new things, and feeling uplifted by my audience to be empowered to make those choices. I don’t have to make another dance record, I don’t have to make another ambient record—I could do anything. I’m not saying that many people are going to listen to it, but I do feel like there is something in the air that makes it possible to kind of explore. I do not know where the music industry itself is going … but people will be listening to audio forever. We have these ears, we have an emotional place that we cannot get to through any other sensory experience. Ears are so powerful that way. I may not be making a living at this in five years, but I will definitely still be doing this. I don’t really care about the living aspect, just as long as the doing is possible.
Any last words?
I do feel like my life should be a lighthouse to anybody who’s thinking about making beats, being in production, doing live music. I am a strange kid from Santa Monica, Dogtown, and I don’t think I am that special or that great at music. I just worked at it for a long time, and there was a life available in that. I don’t think that I am an exception in this way. I think it’s all possible if you work. That’s really important to me to be said. The second thing is I am just thrilled to be back. I am going to be taking a couple days after the gig to wander around and try to actually lead the life I should be leading rather then just going to the next tour date.
Celebrate Art + Flea’s five year anniversary with Daedelus, this Friday, July 31, at Bar 35, presented by Spells Hawaii. 9 p.m.-2 a.m., 21+. With opening sets by Seeko & Kuro Kumo, with visuals by UVAV. Tickets are $10 and available HERE.
This interview has been edited and condensed.