Progress Report

Progress Report: Dan Deacon

Name: Dan Deacon
Progress Report: Baltimore’s favorite experimentalist opens up about his new record … and also tells us a bunch of lies.

Dan Deacon sure is wacky. And busy! In the time it took to read this sentence Dan Deacon will have recorded music for half a dozen projects, made some art, worked on a Wham City sitcom, and possibly have groomed his beard. Aside from a million other things, the Baltimore-based art popster is busy putting the finishing touches on a new full-length album — his first since 2009’s Bromst. Since he gets nervous on the phone, I e-mailed Deacon some questions about his new record and what he’s been up to for the past three years or so. What he sent back is a combination of simple truths and abject lies. You be the judge. Rumor has it that his new record will be out a little later this year.

STEREOGUM: What have you been doing since your last album was released? Did you tour a ton? Did you take time off? Did you do anything non-music related in the interim, or work on any other outside projects?

DEACON: I did a lot of work in the non “pop” music world and focused a lot on my chamber and orchestral composition. I work-shopped, wrote and performed two large-scale 40+ minute percussion pieces, both for so percussion (Ghostbuster Cook: Origin Of the Riddler for 4 percussionist and electronics and Purse Hurdler for 30 percussionists). In early 2011 I had two new pieces for orchestra performed by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and I scored a film for Francis Ford Coppola (Twixt) which should be out sometime in the near future. There was some non-music stuff two like the Wham City Comedy Tours of 2010 and 2011. It was fun to try out new things and to expand and learn.

I guess I kinda toured a little too but since I was mainly writing I was home a lot and that felt like time off. I miss the road and it’ll be nice to be back on it. I also became BFFs with Val Kilmer and it rules.

{I slept for 1000 life times inside the stomach of a whale. when the whale died I awoke and began to eat its flesh around me until I got so bored. Eventually its bones became my facebook wall and I read all of the birthday posts I had missed for the 1000 life times. thanks guys!}

STEREOGUM: Tell me about your new record. How and where was it recorded? Was the recording fun? Painful? Weird? What happened? Who did you work with?

DEACON: It was recorded mostly in my studio in Baltimore and other places in MD. Recording it was super fun! Way different from my previous processes, Chester, the producer and I experimented much more in the studio. There are about 30 players on the album and it was really fun working with that many people, trying out different approaches and articulations with them.

{We recorded in really awesome exotic places and before each session we would hypnotize each other and smoke DMT out of skulls we dug up from ancient grave sites. The spirits wrote the music but they wrote it in tabs and none of us could read tabs so it was kind of a waste but whatever.}

STEREOGUM: Tell me something you did on this record that you’ve never done before.

DEACON: We built a “dead room” to record in. My friends who are handy with tools and wood built out an awesome sound-proof and super sound adsorbing room (like a DIY anechoic chamber) to record all the acoustic wind, brass and string instruments in. Since there are like 80 layers of solo violin layered on top of each other at times we didn’t want the room to have any tone or else we’d get a “I am sitting in a room” kinda sound, you’d start to hear more of the box of the room than the instrument. Building a room without sound was vital to the sound of this record. It also helped me fall in love with reverb. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with reverb that is now just a love/love relationship.

{It was great working with Ringo. he’d start each session but splitting into 5 Ringos and melting slowly to scare me. This worked every time}

STEREOGUM: Tell me something you did on this record that you’ll never do again (if you can help it).

DEACON: I don’t know. 10000000 things. Tons of mistakes were made and foolish moves executed. Making an album is always a learning experience. Hopefully I won’t make the same mistakes again but I’m sure I’ll make at least half of them gain along side a heap of new ones. I guess the biggest one is my inability to budget time.

{I’m getting bored of these not funny lies}

STEREOGUM: How would you say this new material fits alongside your back catalog? Vibe-wise, is it really different?

DEACON: I think it fits in like a natural progress. I tried to take what I considered the strong points of my pervious two albums (the pop sensibilities on Spiderman Of The Rings and the epic nature/expanded instrumentation on Bromst) and make a two-sided record that reflected both of those idea with the influence my non-pop music writing of the past 2 years. Also, touring with the ensemble was a huge influence in the writing for this record. I was no longer writing for a solo performance coming out of two speakers but a band with live drummers and multiple speaker setups on stage so I think that expanded the sound (a lot in the writing process anyway). But the vocals are a lot less processed in my normal way (pitch shift/ring modulation) but even with the more sparse processing it’s probably the most vocal based record I’ve released (but also the one with the most instrumental tracks as well).

STEREOGUM: What will your new record be called (if you can reveal that yet, if not that’s ok) and when will it be released?

DEACON: I think this still falls into the realm of the secret.

STEREOGUM: What are your hopes, dreams, and immediate plans for the rest of 2012?

DEACON: I’d like to focus on getting in shape. As comment sections of many blogs like to point out I am fat. It’s going to be a big touring year and I’d like to get in shape for it and I’d also not like to die of some horrible preventable illness because I like eating until I hate myself.

I’d like to get more involved in local politics/social issues in Baltimore. Working on the album and other projects kept me away from the growing uprising and I’d like to dive into that headfirst in the coming year.

Also it’s crazy that it is 2012.

STEREOGUM: You are often a kind of de-facto representative for Baltimore. What kind of new and interesting stuff is happening there right now? What’s the current state of Wham City?

DEACON: There are some rad bands that I think are going to explode out of Baltimore and into the national scene pretty hard this year (Dope Body, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat). Wham City is working on a sitcom that I’m really excited about.

STEREOGUM: Thanks for your time. Looking forward to hearing your new tunes.

DEACON: Thanks! I hope you like them! If these answers are way to boring I’ll change them into exciting lies! (UPDATE: I went back and added them)

{I just woke up in Hong Kong!}


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