Tag: dan deacon

Dan Deacon Releases Free Mashup Album “Wish Book Vol. 1”

Dan Deacon. Photo by Josh Sisk.

Last night, Baltimore’s Dan Deacon put the finishing touches on an album’s worth of mashups — tracks made from blending several songs together — and threw it on SoundCloud for free. It’s called Wish Book Vol 1, and Deacon says it was pieced together during long treks on his veggie-powered school bus, on which he’s been touring in support of America.

Sick with 1,000 Fevers: The Music Videos of Ben O’Brien and Showbeast

Ben with puppet Kasey Tang ca. 2007.

Ben O’Brien has never let the fact that he doesn’t play an instrument or write songs keep him out of the music scene. In college, this meant his brother (that’s me) had to devise a band with two lead singers, one of whom could sort of growl along. Post-college, it meant making a slew of music videos that tie into his puppet-and-green-screen-heavy video series Showbeast, which Ben describes as “a kids-TV-show style series of short films that come out irregularly for adults.”

2012 Halloween Costume How-to, Baltimore


Halloween is only 16 days away — why not dress up along with the kids this year? Doesn’t have to be a major production. And the lift that you’ll get from playing pretend for a sugar-buzzing night is worth the minor time investment to find a character who speaks to you and assemble the necessary props. Don’t leap for the omnipresent zombie or fairy princess duds; don’t dress as kooky Snooki with baby because everyone will do that. Here are some quirkier suggestions if you’re feeling stumped. May these ideas set you on your way toward finding your own funky Halloween fit.

And Here’s What Dan Deacon’s New Concert App Looks Like in a Stadium of 12,000 People


Since Baltimore’s own Dan Deacon and Keith Lea released an app that turns an audience’s smartphones into a kind of crowd-sourced light show, confirmations of the app’s technological novelty (it requires neither wireless nor cell service to sync all the phones in a venue) and stunning visual effect have been slowly accumulating. 

Dan Deacon Interviewed in Rolling Stone!


Baltimore’s own Dan Deacon is featured in a 600-word interview this month in Rolling Stone promoting his new album.  In it, he names the musical and real-life influences of the record (David Bowie’s Low and American geography, respectively), and he name-drops Prettyboy Reservoir. The Rolling Stone piece is just one of an uncountable number of interviews, both international and domestic, that the Baltimore musician is giving in anticipation of the August 28 release of America.

Dan Deacon on Carly Rae Jepsen


We’ve still got a couple months until Dan Deacon’s album America drops, but for those of you who can’t wait till September for some more Deacon ear candy, he’s just released a new track – a remix of “Call Me Maybe” layered over itself 147 times.

He does this magical job of turning an overplayed pop song into something really enjoyable. The first few seconds are just the same bubbly notes we’ve all listened to way too many times in the past month or so, but then the next layer comes in, and then the next, and the next. By number nine a whole different melody begins to emerge, and by 100 it’s this almost mystical, rolling technobabble, with Jepsen’s lyrics only popping out in millisecond shards. I don’t think Dan intended it to be a commentary on playing a song too many times, but I couldn’t help but find it ironic how much I loved listening to what you can basically chalk up to the ultimate over-play.

The track, “Call Me Maybe Acapella 147 Times Exponentially Layered,” won’t be on America – it’s actually part of a remix album pulled together by Mabson Enterprises. The album consists of 43 (that’s right, 43) remixes and covers of Carly Rae Jepsen’s painfully catchy song. EAR PWR, Phil Blankenship, and many others have all contributed tracks.

Check it out / download it for FREE right here.

New Dan Deacon Album in August: America



That’s right, Baltimore, Dan’s back and he’s announced the release of his next album, courtesy of Domino Records. America is scheduled to come out in North America August 28, though amusingly the rest of the world gets it the day before.

In the album release announcement, America is described as “a portrait of anger, confusion, and apocalyptic anxiety over corporatism and war, but one that finds consolation in the geography of the United States and in recent social movements both domestic and international.”

Dan performed Last Friday at the grand finale of the Open Walls mural project in Station North, where he (may have?) showcased some of the songs off his new album. Throughout the set, he reminded the crowd that they weren’t there to support the event’s corporate sponsors, but to celebrate their city and its art. America‘s themes land close to home for Baltimore.

Here’s the tracklist, confirmed by Domino Records:

1. Guilford Avenue Bridge
2. True Thrush
3. Lots
4. Prettyboy
5. Crash Jam
6. USA I: Is a Monster
7. USA II: The Great American Desert
8. USA III: Rail
9. USA IV: Manifest

Don’t Miss the Open Walls Project: Finale Celebration Tonight at Station North



You’re driving down East North Avenue and just as you take the left onto Charles you look up and whoa! Huge mural. It’s a man lying on his side, fetal position, pulling off a mask that spirals away from him into a bright tangle of color and shapes. It must be 25-feet tall, and more than twice that long. All of a sudden the empty lot becomes a stage, a vantage point, somewhere to stand and take in the art. Sure it’s still dotted with empty cement buckets, and Doritos bags roll through like tumbleweed, but these things seem to matter less now.

The piece, recently completed by Argentinian artist Ever, is one of the most visible of 23 murals in Baltimore’s Open Walls project, which spans through Station North. Open Walls is an achievement in many senses – not only are the pieces artistically significant in and of themselves, they also represent a major collaboration among some of the foremost contemporary mural artists in the world, and a media success within and outside of the city. As a Baltimore native and resident, though, the most important part for me is their psychological impact, the way they transform the spaces they overlook. I wanted to see some more, so I rode around the area for a while.

Dan Deacon Remixes Philip Glass for Compilation Album


When I was studying classical composition in college, I asked my professor what he thought of Philip Glass. He said, “I think he’s a good businessman.” And of course, he meant it as an insult. But that kind of petty jealousy is to be expected when you’re a breakout artist of a ghettoized art form. I can only imagine that jealousy has increased since Beck has decided to put together, with producer Hector Castillo, an album of high-profile remixes for the 75-year-old composer (and Baltimore native, by the way).

The forthcoming LP, due out in October, will include remixes by Beck himself, Tyondai Braxton (formerly of Battles), Amon Tobin, Memory Tapes, and Baltimore’s own Dan Deacon, among others.

Deacon is uniquely suited to this project. For years now he has been boldly repurposing minimalist composition with an almost absurd level of success, taking what was defiantly conceptual in the concert hall and making it absolutely epileptic in the punk house.

Recently, Deacon took a moment to answer some questions about his contribution to the project, a reworking of sections from Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi and Einstein on the Beach.

Where would you place Philip Glass among your musical influences? On Bromst, minimalism looms large. But I don’t hear it quite as strongly in your early records. Was he (along with Terry Riley, Steve Reich, et al.) an early influence, or did you come to that music later?

Glass is a huge influence. When I first started writing computer music I was writing really repetitive, arpeggio-based music with shifting chord changes. When I first heard Glass’s stuff it was exactly what my brain wanted to hear.

What was your goal with the remix?

Since my music is so heavily influenced by Glass and has such obvious similarities I wanted to avoid any clichés. So the goal was to make a piece that didn’t sound much like Glass, but someone familiar with the parts would be able to pick them out and hear the changes. At first I wanted to make a Glass-meets-Riley style piece but I was having too much fun autotuning the saxes to dive into a washed-out delay piece. And Glass-meets-Riley is basically everything I write.

Were there expectations from the producer of how it should sound?

No, it was very open-ended and Hector was really great to work with. At one point, he said the label was worried it was too “noisy,” but he went to bat for me and no changes were needed. The process was very enjoyable and painless. I’m excited to hear the others and my piece in context with them.

What makes a remix worthwhile for you?

To me, the modern remix is a new piece of music entirely but with audible references to the original. It’s not just a rearrangement or shuffling of parts with a dance beat but rather a spawn of that piece like a mutated spore.

Chester Endersby Gwazda: Baltimore’s Underground Producer Embraces “Inner-Cheese” with New Album


I first met Chester Gwazda when we were placed into the same on-campus suite (or, more accurately, when he was placed into the suite I was squatting) at a state school in Westchester County, New York, in 2003. At 18, he was an excitable, creative force of nature, prone to talking a mile a minute about antique stereopticons, Jonathan Richman, Lord of the Rings, and his Roland synthesizer with its various “problemos” (which, he was quick to add, were really “no problemo”).

Now, at 27, he’s mostly the same, except his hair’s a little longer, he prefers a Nord synth, and he’s recorded, produced, or mixed an impressive list of underground records — Dan Deacon’s Bromst, Future Islands’ In Evening Air, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s Jazz Mind among them — not just buzzworthy records, but real breakthrough moments for the artists. (Our own band Nuclear Power Pants’ Wicked Eats the Warrior excluded. View Raymond Cummings’s characteristically libelous review of that effort at City Paper‘s music blog.)

Last month, Chester finally released a name-your-price digital album of his own songs. It’s called Shroud, and it’s an album that benefits from his years spent on a recording sabbatical, full of the kind of tightly crafted pop you’re likely to get when the songwriter is also the arranger-producer — each song a vision fully realized.

The following are Chester’s answers to some of my questions about his production work as well as his new album.

Who are your production heroes?

Lately, I’ve been really psyched on pop music!  There are so many tricks!  Mostly in the arrangements.  Things are so calculated and precise, and I actually love that.  I’m talking about Beyoncé, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey sorta pop. But also Prince and even Motown stuff.  I love hearing about the weird quality control meetings that Berry Gordy would hold weekly to ensure that all the Motown releases fit into the formula.  Although I don’t make music like Beyoncé, I think the techniques that are used to create those special moments in her songs can be applied to most music.

What’s it like being a producer in the indie/underground scene? I’m assuming that you “co-produce” with the bands, but is it always like that?

I still have a day job.  I think that’s a little peek into what it’s like, for me at least.  Much of my work is as an engineer, but I also have a hand in arrangement, and I do the mixing for everything I work on.  With Future Islands or Dan Deacon, they come to me with the electronic elements all laid out and ready to go (which is a big part of the sound, as a whole).  Most bands want to be involved in the production and they know the sound they’re going for.  I’m there to help them get that sound and fill in the gaps, when necessary.

What is your recording process?

I like to mix while I track.  I don’t want to record an instrument, then find out later that it doesn’t jibe when everything’s put together.  I try to get the tracking done fast, then spend a lot of time mixing and editing.  I do that alone, without the band around, then we make revisions together.  I experiment with the sounds and arrangement while I’m mixing, and it helps to not have someone looking over your shoulder while you’re trying something ridiculous!

On the recent Dan Deacon and Future Islands records, say, can you hear yourself on them? What of your own musical personality comes through?

I love hearing the rooms where things are recorded.  I’m super attached to these cheap omnidirectional mics which pick up a ton of room sound, and I use them on all sorts or stuff.  With Future Islands, you can hear it in Sam’s vocals or William’s bass.  I spend a lot of time working on drum sounds, and I think that’s something that comes through.

What made you take a break from promoting your own music and start recording in the first place? What brought you back?

I was always a pretty slow songwriter, so if I only worked on my own music I wouldn’t be keeping very busy!  The recording process is my favorite part of making music anyway (more than writing or performing), so I started working on other people’s songs because my own compositions were in such short supply.

I’m spending more time on my own music now because I just started writing more!  I relaxed my quality control a little bit and started having fun.  I was always afraid of making music that was simplistic or cheesy, but I realized how much I actually love those things!

When did you start writing the songs for Shroud?

For a long time I was just writing when it was convenient, between projects with other people.  Two of the songs (“Skewed” and “Debbie Drowner”) were written like that.  The other ones were written in the past year or so when I started devoting more time to my solo stuff and embracing my inner-cheese!

Anything coming up?

Going on tour in July!  All south of the Mason-Dixon line!  I love the south in the summer! More details on that soon.  I’ll be joined by Bamboo, a new-ish Baltimore duo. Possibly a seven-inch or something in the fall with a new label in the UK.

Also, I borrowed my parents’ canoe so I’m hoping to have some fun this summer on Prettyboy.  Lemme know if you wanna paddle around!