When Victorian dandyism and new media art collide
Describing the work of Alfred Darlington, known on stage as Daedelus, is no easy task. The experimental Los Angeles-based, Ninja Tune-backed electronic musician and producer inhabits realms of emerging technologies, oxymoronic juxtapositions and avant sound. A vanguard concerned with invention, he was among the first to use an instrument called a Monome box in live performance, all the while dressed like a 19th century sophisticate. Prior to his first performance in New Mexico, we questioned Darlington by means of electronic communiqué.
How long have you been writing music? What prompted you?
I've been releasing music since 2001 ... it was the late ’90s when I first began to dream [of a] music "career" and at that time it was still major label machinery and CD-based profits—of course totally inapplicable to where music culture lives now—so in hindsight 2001 was a good time to begin, as the major label dream was fading while the old guard was sleeping.
Your work is concerned with innovation and new media art—do you think there is any true avant garde happening now?
As in answering above, just surviving is the new way. A path set by artists and inventors more than moguls. So I do believe that, yes, the art being made right now has the feel of true innovation on so many levels.
Why are you drawn to synthesized compositions?
The infinite possibilities in electronic music (including sampling, synthesizers, granular, etc.) are quite a compelling.
What's something people don't understand about electronic music?
How it doesn't need to be emotionless or anonymous, it can be vibrant and have personality as much as the musician is willing to let it. The cliché of the heavy-hatted DJ behind laptops and turntables, moving very little, but with tons of sounds, can now be replaced with open performances on real or almost-instruments, and maybe no baseball hats.
What's something people don't understand about music in general?
Music is quite simple stuff—more like a foreign language that everyone speaks in small parts (and a few trained people can make sentences) rather than this mythical state that few attain. Music is our most universal concept across all cultures.
What are your thoughts on issues concerning intellectual property and public domain?
Original copyright was for a term of close to 14 years, now it's for 75-and-up years. Our system is broken, and as unimportant as it sounds we must regain our culture or else it'll become not unlike oil or orange futures.
Do you have a purpose in dressing like a dandy, or do you simply like the aesthetic?
Beau Brummel (the first real dandy) said that everything he did was art. I want my music to have a similar ideal—no wasted snare drum hits, no meaningless melodies, just purpose and proper placement.
What do you want people to know?
I cannot wait to join you. On stage or dance floor.