[Part 1 of 2]
As he sits down at an Indian restaurant in his Venice neighborhood on Los Angeles’s west side, Daedelus reiterates his concerns about Exquisite Corpse, his third full-length, released in March on Mush. Already an established underground producer, the Los Angeles native is concerned that Exquisite Corpse will get lost behind that other producer’s new record stuffed with guest appearances: Prefuse 73’s Surrounded By Silence. In terms of exposure, the concerns have proven correct. But artistically, Exquisite Corpse succeeds where most records of its kind do not. At once adventurous and modest, the album includes a host of guest appearances without losing the intimacy of the artist’s early work.
Daedelus has mapped out an individualistic career in the ever-narrowing electronic sample-based field of musicians. Born Alfred Weisberg Roberts, the producer has combined his knowledge of improvisation and musical theory with his early love of ’90s rave music. The combination shines through ever-so-slightly in his work, but a love of music in general is always apparent: strange genre combinations never seem out of reach or unlikely when Daedelus is at the controls. His love of music is evident, as it will be on his next project, the tentatively titled Denies the Days Demise. A strong mix of grime-style beats and Brazilian flourishes, the early versions he played for me sound like a million things I’ve heard and at the same time like nothing I’ve heard. That oddly familiar feeling, ever present on the quietly brilliant Exquisite Corpse, is quickly becoming Daedelus’s signature sound.
Thematically, Exquisite Corpse is cohesive, but in terms of sound it’s very adventurous. I don’t know if that’s what you were intending.
In some ways, yeah. It isn’t that I get bored with things. It isn’t that I feel there is a need for each song to constantly push itself in different directions. I just feel that each song should have its own life. They come across on the record as cohesive possibly just because they were created in similar circumstances. I’ll leave it to other people to read into the dimension that (the songs) take on by putting them together, but in all actuality it’s like the song’s life is on its own. The only thing in this case that made the songs come together a little bit is that there are guests from similar circles. My tracks share, a lot of times, nothing together, which is kind of the fun of it, really. Like an exquisite corpse, everything relates but nothing relates.
I want to talk a little bit about the people you are associated with. What exactly was your role in creating the One AM Radio album A Name Writ in Water?
I helped mix the whole record. But honestly he (Hrishikesh Hirway) had an idea of the whole thing. On a few occasions I helped him a little bit, because he does kind of come from more of an instrumental-rock background. I was there basically to tell him to keep it real subtle.
That’s the thing that I’m most proud of, because he was pushing it harder and harder. You could tell that each track that was later had more and more electronics. It’s great to explore that stuff, but honestly I think if you let it overtake you it can be toward bad ends. I don’t like electronic music that’s only purpose is to be electronic music.
The song you did with Prefuse on One Word Extinguisher, “Busy Signal,” is my favorite track on the record. How did that come about?
Well, I did a record called Household, which is out of print. It never sold out, but there was this weird falling out between Eastern Developments and its distributor at the time, so they kind of froze it. But the original mix appears on that, and Scott (Herren, a.k.a. Prefuse 73) did a remix on that record. But he decided to add some more things to that record and put it on One Word as sort of a collaboration to share it with more people. It’s great because I listen to the original now and it sounds so chunky to me. It has all the same elements as the remix, but the remix just flies — it’s amazing. And it was really cool to work with him on this record, where he took my original beat and then he transcends it in his own, you know, Prefuse way.
So that was the process on the new song?
Yeah. There were two tracks that were kind of like that, with him and Cyne, where I kind of just gave them a beat and they spun their own magic out of it. With the Cyne record I put some of my own touches on it at the end, but with Prefuse, I mean, it was perfect.
You used the beat from the Prefuse song for the Mike Ladd track as well. I didn’t realize the two tracks used the same beat until the fourth or fifth time I listened to the record, and it was almost like this dream coming back.
I’m happy you feel that way.
Why did you decide to split them up in the flow of the record?
They were so emotionally different. Mike is talking about this longing and loneliness, whereas I think Scott is being a little more hopeful. Mike’s work is really fresh. For me, it was really an honor because he talks about his experience in Los Angeles or San Diego with the military bases. It’s great because I just associated him with New York or with Ozone, and I never associated him with Southern California before, and the rhyme he kicks is so cool for that situation.
That was something I was surprised about for the record in general. I got so many personal accounts from people, and maybe that was because the music moved them that way. Doom gave me the best honor I’ve ever received in a way, because he made me into a villain. And he prizes the villain, so it was such a personal honor. I think that’s one of the reasons why the record works. Everyone is relating in that kind of way. I mean, it’s kind of an all-over-the-place, crazy kind of record.