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How are the new songs from Songs For Imaginative People settling into your live performances?
They’re settling in as people learn the words. At first, I noticed people didn’t know them but that’s been gradually changing over the last couple of weeks, and that’s really nice to see. I'm not reading reviews this time; I'm trying not to care what critics may say about the new album. The only thing that matters to me, that people feel it enough to sing along and dance at the concerts.
What did you learn about yourself as a musician while working on the songs for Songs For Imaginative People?
I never knew that I could write songs where the lyrics came first. I’d never done that before, and never thought that I would do that. With my debut record I wrote lyrics I thought people would enjoy, but when people responded in droves to the lyrics, I was inspired to see what else I could do lyrically, so with this record I put music around the words, and I grew as a musician that way.
What was the concept of the album?
The concept for the new album was to contrast the laser focused production style of the first album. On the first album, everything had the same guitar tones, percussion, and vocal production so the goal for the second record was to vary the style of the production.
What story are you telling with the new album?
As a whole, there isn’t a story, but each song tells its own story about some part of the cycle of love and heartbreak you go through as a young adult and teenager. Tracks 2-7 go through the cycle of meeting someone, getting into a relationship, the relationship goes bad, you break up, you’ve been broken up but you’re still sad. It goes through all those different phases and focuses on each one so there isn’t a whole story I wanted to tell, but in a way it tells that story. I find all the parts of the romantic cycle interesting and poignant.
Is the initial thread of a song ever lost within layering, and become something it didn’t start off as?
I’m very conceptually minded so I don’t think that’s happened to me. I’ve rewritten songs entirely, but not changed the kernel. The song “Up In The Clouds” had different words, melodies and chords. I remember re-writing it to make it better but it still had the same concept and vibe.
Were there any challenges with this album you didn’t have with the other record?
I was inspired to put lead guitar playing on the record, (which I’d never done before) so learning to play lead guitar was a big challenge and it ended up on the record.
What is the most difficult parts of the recording process?
I think the hardest part is when you have started a song that is right on the line of being good, and when it doesn’t turn out to be on the good side of the line, that’s hard. Then you don’t know what to do with it, you don’t love it but you keep working on it, that’s the hardest part because it doesn’t pay off but you still keep doing it.
I’ve gotten really good at editing and I think another challenge for me is holding myself back from beginning the editing process. I spent the first months of the recording process not putting any pressure on myself to write anything and really try to open myself up to creativity.
What was the best part of making the video for “You Can’t Be My Girl”?
In the beginning, I was flying by the seat of my pants into the idea of doing the video with Keith Schofield because I wasn’t confident about the concept so I was taking a leap of faith, but I was confident in Keith’s ability because I love his work. I had never commissioned a video solely based on the director and nothing else so that was an interesting part of the process.
When we were looking through the stock footage, I liked seeing the back-to-back responses of the girl’s pregnancy news. I liked imagining the stock footage makers were like “let’s shoot some pregnancy clips; we’ll do a good one and a bad one.” They obviously shot them back to back and it was funny to see. That one thing I asked Keith to put in the video was both of those reactions.Who are some artists that have influenced your music and why?
The Dismemberment Plan is one. Travis Morrison has a way of writing lyrics I find genuine and his musical choices, chords, and rhythmic style are distinctive, relatable, and thoughtful. Thin Lizzy are a big influence in terms of inspiring me to learn how to play fast lead guitar solos. The Weepies is another one. I’m really inspired by Deb Talan, she chooses a very specific subject matter that has an emotional charge to it by itself but then she adds really nice imagery to it and a great sense of melody. She comes across as very thoughtful about the way she chooses to write her poetry.
What does being brave mean to you?
Right now, being brave would be dating somebody where my fear of long-term commitment and my self-centeredness would be apparent, that would be a brave thing to do. Rather than date someone whose self-centeredness is more apparent than mine such that I’m able to conceal my self centeredness and my fear of commitment, that would be brave to strike out into that territory.
What’s next for Darwin Deez in 2013?
2013 is planned out; we’re going to tour and tour and tour. I do have a goal for myself to do some actual composition on the road.
Where can my readers find you online?