Darwin Deez Interview

Darwin Deez is a New York City-based band. Darwin recently wrote in to
discuss his songwriting process, lyrical inspiration and production
influences. For more info
on Darwin Deez, check out http://darwindeez.com/

Did you come from a musical family? Were your parents musical?
Yes, my dad writes tons of songs on acoustic guitar and piano.  my mom
loves indie rock and played in an orchestra as a hobby, learned
marimba for fun.  my dad’s sister is a professional marimba player and
her ex-husband steve mackey is also a professional musician in
princeton.  my aunt and uncle met each other through their folk music
making and have spent the past 10 years playing folk together,
touring.  My cousin Chris and I used to have a “band” called Beyond
Zero when we were 11.  My cousin Nick has always made hard hip-hop
beats, currently makes trap and DJs.  His sister, my other cousin,
Anna has a new shoegaze band called Drowner.  My second cousin Kayla
writes songs, too.

What was the first instrument you learned how to play?
Cowboy chords on the electric guitar.  The cream squier strat that I
still use on stage.

How do you go about creating songs?
Depends, but the constants are privacy, guitar in hands and humming
around to myself.  or walking around North Carolina writing lyrics on
my phone.

What inspires you lyrically?
Uncommon-in-song yet familiar words.  Words with a slight richness to
them like bathrobe, declassified, pole vault.  Action verbs are always
satisfying to include in a song and very effective on the imagination.
That and a good concept/emotionally charge grievance.

You are a very skilled producer. Who are some of your favorite
producers and why?
Thanks. I like to think of the 80’s producers who had complex MIDI
studios in the early days of digital.  Like Quincy Jones, the guys who
worked on Paula Abdul. I like a producer who has an ear for hooks.
Greg Kurstin is probably my favorite right now.  Glen Ballard.  The
Matrix.  Ryan Tedder.  The-Dream.  Lots of people. Pop producers.

What was the first song you wrote for Songs for Imaginative People?
(800) Human.  Wrote the chorus like 8 months before starting
pre-production in earnest.  Held on to it.

What’s the strangest description you’ve heard of your music?
I don’t know, I can’t remember.  Today the tow truck guy said “if you
guys write your own music, I respect that and you have talent.”  just
for being able to write.

What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Setting the band lineup is incredibly difficult.  you need someone
with real instrument skills (though not at first), the availability
(need for this becomes greater as you grow), and a demeanor that
matches yours, and the willingness to tour with you for long stretches
of time.  super hard to find all those things in one person, 3
separate times.  you HAVE to get along, 100%.  and they have to WANT
to be in your band, not just be willing to be in your band.

What are your hobbies outside of music?
I wish I had more. I am a big flirt.  i like to sew stuff.   make
thrift store shit fit me.  shopping for weird stage clothes is a fun
hobby i guess, but it’s related to my job.  blues guitar was a hobby
but is now related to my job.

Do you have a favorite quote or motto that you live by?
I like to try to live by “don’t worry, be happy.”  it’s not easy!

What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
Record yourself, play a lot of shows in your region (not just your
city), sell your disc at whatever stage of completion it’s at (don’t
wait for the big budget studio), don’t look for labels, let them find
you at your show.

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