Dan Deacon Speaks on the Symphonic Nature of 'America'
Published Aug 15, 2012Baltimore electronic musician Dan Deacon certainly has no problem getting a party started, but his new album, America, was actually partially inspired by a one-off collaboration with Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
As previously reported, Deacon, who studied electro-acoustic and computer composition at college, was asked to create a electronic-symphonic hybrid piece as part of the Symphony's Crossover series last year.
In an Exclaim! interview, he says writing for a live orchestra -- something he'd never done before -- made him reconsider the way he approaches his own work.
"Am I writing this piece of music to exist in a live setting or am I writing this to exist in a studio setting?" he says. This new consideration reared its head in particular on "USA: III: Rail," a track he calls "the cornerstone" of his new record.
"I wrote the piece, and I was like, 'Do I trim this down so its possible to be performed live, or do I leave it the way it is and make it a studio piece.' Ultimately I decided to leave it as a studio piece. I don't think that section will ever be performed live exactly as it sounds because of the nature of the piece."
He also had to figure out how reconcile the endless barrage of electronic sounds he's used to wielding, with the limitations of acoustic instruments and human players.
"I wrote this one part where I wanted the trumpets to blast this rapid-fire succession of 16th notes for, like, minutes. And they were like, 'You're fucking crazy.' So we worked out that they would alternate between the multiple players."
Overall, he calls the entire project a huge learning experience that allowed him to dust off some of the skills he learned at school, but rarely gets to use these days.
"They were good. I was kind of in the middle. I was someone who brought in sheet music and knew enough about the classical side, but not really enough to be on the classical side, falling back and forth."
Deacon plans to be on the road for most of the remainder of 2012, but mentioned that he has a few museum commissions in the works for 2013; however, he wasn't able to speak about any of the details.
He also hopes to head back to the studio sometime in the new year to begin work on a follow-up to America. "I don't want to take three years to make another record."
For now, get set for America to drop on August 28 via Domino. You can also check out all his upcoming North American dates here.