Graciously prying himself away from a gripping Playstation sesh, New York indie popster, Darwin Deez, joined me on the line amidst yet another UK tour. Having recently returned from rubbing shoulders with the Brits and showcasing at the world renowned Great Escape in Brighton a mere few months ago, it seems that Deez has become somewhat preoccupied with the UK indie music scene and cementing a place for himself within it. “It’s like an ant hill…” Deez enigmatically describes the musical landscape of his current city. “People are much more interested in music here in London. Everything and everyone is amazing… amazing songwriters, amazing venues, amazing crowds… there is a widespread appreciation of pop music and a knack for melody.”
That’s not to say there’s not a lot going on back in his hometown of New York City (via North Carolina), but according to Deez, in a mass expanse of similarly ‘hip’ artistic happenings, it’s easy to get lost in trends and scenes, particularly in his former haunting grounds of Brooklyn. “I feel like it’s all getting lost. I feel like I should know about what’s going on, or act like I know… but I walk down the street and see somebody’s art or somebody’s studio, but I don’t see them. There’s so much, it’s just hard to connect it all.” Far from encouraging innovation and artistic production, he tells me it can sometimes be more inhibiting than inspiring. The answer? Just move away. “I live in Manhattan now. Not because I’m anti-Brooklyn. I actually got a cheap deal on an apartment, so it seemed logical” he reasons.
I was lucky enough to catch a Darwin Deez live show a few months ago and in addition to the infectiously upbeat and happy tunes, I was left smiling for quite a different reason. Woah can that man dance! Dropping their instruments mid-set and cueing a backing track, the band launched into a self-choreographed Walk Like an Egyptian/Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) mash up, followed by Do The Bartman, to rapturous applause. “We’re a new band, we’re after people’s attention” Darwin explains. “No one has heard of us or really have a reason to glance at the stage. We’re being different.” You might be surprised to learn the inspiration behind this aesthetic stroke of genius, “I was watching a Justin Timberlake DVD and kind of studying it… there were certain dance moves that seemed like something we could do. Our friend knew JT’s choreographer… so we kinda got some help.” It is at this point in the conversation that I seriously begin to question Darwin’s sanity. Many have likened his far out moves to those of Napoleon Dynamite rather than the schmick styles of JT. Whatever. It works, on a totally different and downright humorous level. “I think it adds something special” agrees Darz. “It’s what I am and what I love.”
If you’re a Darwin Deez fan you may have already stumbled upon his succession of awesomely cute and quirky music vids, many of which contain the aforementioned super-massive-dance-jams. If not, I suggest you hit up YouTube and peruse the Sesame Street-on-crack Spring Dance, narrative Bad Day, surreal Up in the Clouds and deliciously idiosyncratic Radar Detector amongst others. So can we add creative filmic director to his list of accolades? “Before I made the Radar video I directed everything myself, yeah” he admits. “But now I just ask friends to do it for me (laughs). Our drummer actually directed the video for DNA.”
You can jive and gawk at the obtusely creative tour de force that is Darwin Deez on the band’s upcoming visit to Australia. “It’s gonna be a great show!” enthuses Deez, regarding the impending Parklife tour, kicking off this September. “It’s gonna fly by, and we’ll give lots of people hugs. We like hugs.” But teenagers beware, he will indeed try to smother you in a brotherly embrace and simultaneously steer your path of self discovery! “It’s always the young kids who are going to be into music and searching for identity. It’s this deep need and they find it in music” he says in response to the omnipresence of blatant affection at a DD show. “Ultimately, it’s maybe a phase in their lives that I’m honoured to be a part of. Kids are the ones who are always looking to get the most out of their favourite band. Being the voice of authenticity I’m just an honest person, you might say bluntly.” And bluntly is exactly how our interview ends as I’m dispersed a fundamental piece of advice from the ‘voice of authenticity’ himself… “Wash your privates and be in bed by ten! But I stay up all night, and my privates are usually really dirty. They say practice what you preach right? But, I don’t. Nobody ever does.”
The enigmatic parting words from one Mr. Darwin Deez. Just don’t get too affectionate when he comes to visit. Or at least bring a flannel!