The Illusion of Destroyer
Published Jan 23, 2011For the last 15 years, Vancouver songwriter Dan Bejar has been the primary creative force behind Destroyer, releasing nine LPs plus a smattering of smaller releases. Despite being the band's only constant member, he is quick to dispel the perception that Destroyer is a solo project. "I'm just a singer," he says modestly, sipping from a bottle of Pilsner at the Railway Club in downtown Vancouver. "I really can't play an instrument. I can compose on an instrument and I can come up with parts and I know some chords, but I can't play in a way that's expressive."
When making his latest record, the newly-released Kaputt, Bejar relied on an array of collaborators to help shape the album. He recruited horn players to give the songs a smooth, adult contemporary feel, and overlaid their contributions with a swirling haze of pillowy synths. "I didn't want sounds that had a lot of attack to them," he reflects. "Stuff like that changed the more that other people started playing on the record."
While Kaputt contains some of the most experimental moments of any Destroyer record ― see the 11-minute ambient epic "Bay of Pigs" ― it also showcases Bejar at his most accessible. Opening track "Chinatown" pairs shimmying electro beats with tinkling synth arpeggios and an ultra-catchy refrain, while the title track is bass-heavy, disco-dazzled groove that lasts for six blissful minutes.
"I thought for once in my life I would try to make a pop record, because I don't think I've done that before," he notes. "I'm not sure if that's what this is, but it's something that was in the back of my mind."
Hooky as the tunes are, Bejar is characteristically self-deprecating when discussing the inspiration behind the album. "I wasn't really sure where these songs came from," he explains. "Sometimes they barely seem like songs to me. That's part of the illusion."