Tab Interview: Darwin Deez

TABATHA LEGGETT gets spiritual with musician DARWIN DEEZ.

darwin deez festival Holly Stevenson Indie philosophy spirituality Tabatha Leggett

Darwin Deez is not your typical pop star. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, he dances like a child who’s eaten too many blue Smarties and he certainly won’t feature on Heat magazine’s ‘Torso of the Week’ any time soon. And yet, there’s something infectious about his silly, playful, positive music.

I’m not the only one to think so. His self-titled album (released in May) only made No 61 in the charts, but, NME voted Darwin No 10 in its annual list of COOL. We caught up with Darwin to see how life in the limelight is treating him…

Tabatha Leggett and Holly Stevenson:  How does it feel to go from being relatively unknown to being played on the Topshop playlist?

Darwin Deez: The new attention feels flattering, exciting, tiring, challenging all at once.

TL and HS: You studied philosophy at university. How did you end up pursuing a career in music? 

DD: I had a feeling that if I was going to pursue a career in music, I was going to need some peripherary, non-music material to discuss in the interviews. Philosophy seemed to be a suitable choice, and lo and behold, it was.

TL and HS: You’re interested in Meher Baba (Indian mystic). Do you think that the lifestyles of a musician and a spiritualist conflict?

DD: I think the act of making music is a spiritual act. The act of giving music, whether it be in a recording or a performance, is a spiritual act as well. It’s a way of exploring life, exploring the self, of connecting with other people, of reflecting upon and celebrating what’s most important in life. So, in this way, being a musician and spiritualist compliment one another. But the touring lifestyle brings easier access to vices, and that can be a danger. Some people are sucked in by drinking or drugs. Some become fixated on flirting and hooking up. And the attention given to successful musicians can contort the way one thinks about oneself, and what one expects from people, and how one treats others. So there are spiritual benefits and hazards. With power comes responsibility.


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TL and HS: You’re American; what do you think of the UK, and in particular our music? Do you feel that you’ve been well received here?

DD: The UK has been extremely kind to us. In the US, there’s a feeling that there are two separate worlds for music: the world of Top 40 and the world of Pitchfork. We don’t exactly fit into either of these categories, but in the UK, we’re allowed to fall somewhere else along the spectrum. There are more possibilities. And as musicians, to have more possibilities is always an exciting thing.

TL and HS: What have been the best and worst moments of your career to date?

DD: It was gratifying to see people making their own cover versions of my songs on YouTube. As for a bad moment, I almost got evicted during this most recent tour because of some trouble with my landlord and the girl subletting my New York apartment. At one point, she had no hot water. Then there were rats. And I was thousands of miles away. It was stressful.

TL and HS:  Musically, who inspires you?

DD: Our band’s very excited to tour the US in January 2011 with this new Brooklyn band called Friends. Appropriately, they are our friends from the restaurant we used to work at: Angelica’s Kitchen.

TL and HS: What genre does your music fit into?

DD: Indie rock. Indie pop. They seem to be quite vague, limitless terms, so we don’t mind being grouped in those categories. When people listen, they will see the specific things and the unique things that we are up to, musically, and that’s what counts.

TL and HS:  If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

DD: I once made a pilot for a TV series called Boy Friends with my roomate.  I entered it into a contest but it wasn’t picked up. It’s still posted on my Myspace page for anyone who’s interested. So, maybe I’d be filming TV or movies or web stuff. I like lots of creative disciplines. Music’s a great fit for me, but it could have been something else.

Darwin Deez kicks off his tour in the UK in February, and  will be in London on 03.03.11. For more details, click here.