Artist Feature 016: DAAT
May. 9. 2016
We catch up with minimal, experimental drum & bass duo DAAT to talk about their upcoming EP: DTND 004. And as always we’ve got something special for our readers this time coming in the form of a field recording competition. As you'll read below, field recording is a central part of DAAT’s production process so it only seems fitting to hold this little contest. So get outside, record some sounds, and submit them to our Soundcloud group [edit: link no longer exists]. The winner will be getting a 12" of DTND 004 delivered right to their door, good luck and remember to submit before our Firday, May, 13th deadline.
You were on the blog well over a year ago now, catch us up on what’s happening at the moment with DAAT?
We’ve been changing up our studio config and our way of approaching production, integrating signal processing and interactive system programming into things more directly. The past year has been a bit of an R&D phase, but then again we’re always in an R&D phase.
In the fall of 2015 we got involved with the National Film Board of Canada, designing sound for a VR environment called "Biocube". This is the first time we’ve worked in game music, and it’s been very exciting to apply our existing knowledge of music programming to a large-scale project.
Jason talk to us a bit about the scene in Birmingham, where you are currently living in the UK.
Birmingham is great music-wise. There are loads of talented producers, but because it’s not as busy as other cities in the UK, it’s possible for a scene to exist under the radar, which can be a very good thing for development. I go to a monthly called Listening Sessions @ a club called PST, where producers get together and test out tunes. The same crew also puts on shows that enlist some of these producers. The uni where I work—Birmingham City University (www.bcu.ac.uk)—has quite a few students that are really talented musicians as well.
And Joe whats been going on in Montreal?
I’ve been casting a wider net now than I used to, taking advantage of all that MTL has to offer. The city has a many-faceted and enthusiastic population of artists of all kinds, and particularly in technology media there is an an overwhelming amount of stuff to take in. Of course DTND takes priority so I can’t always say yes to going out but it’s a thrill to meet new and interesting people and to soak up ideas.
How are you guys finding the workflow, collaborating and making music from different parts of the world?
Collaborating remotely has been really challenging in some ways, but it’s provided some opportunities that didn’t exist when when we were in close proximity. There’s no substitute for sitting in the same room to work on music. It’s as close to live performance as you get when it comes to studio production, full of subtle communication and quick decision-making. But, working independently allows us to investigate ideas at our own pace, incorporating our individual experiences in ways that might not come out the same way otherwise. Then when we share them, or when we see each other, there’s an element of surprise and newness that sparks off bigger ideas.
We visit each other once or twice a year, and each time it’s amazing how much we get done. Between visits we accumulate a lot of knowledge and a lot of ideas that spill out in the studio. It’s exciting, and the visits have become natural milestones in our development.
What interesting producers are you guys currently digging from your respective parts of the world?
Joe: There are a lot of good producers here [in Montreal] in a variety of genres—I’m only scratching the surface but I can name a few names. Le Révélateur puts on stunning audiovisual performances. CMD continues to educate me on the techno side both with her music and her weekly radio show on CKUT. Wiklow (who also has a show on CKUT) and Fake Electronics are innovative producers with live techniques that I find inspiring. If you’re not aware of skweee I’d recommend checking out the Ancient Robot label (run by Fengir); it’s candy.
Jason: Too many to mention. Michael Valentine West, Ed Lawes, Yilan, Wooda and the rest of the www.listeningsessions.co.uk producers.
Running a small label and gaining support seems to be a challenging thing to do in the modern music landscape. What advice would you give to small independent labels?
This kind of question is difficult to answer in a general sense because labels are expressions of musical identity/community, and we only know the context in which DTND lives. DTND has an identity that grew from our ideological influences and a network of like-minded 170 BPM producers. On the one hand, to make a “label” all you need is enough money to put out releases. On the other hand, to have a brand with meaning attached to it you have to develop a strong identity. So maybe identity, knowing the self, is the most important thing.
Artists supporting themselves to the point of practicing their craft full time seems to be another obstacle for many in electronic music. Do you guys feel keeping your day jobs to be a good thing?
Our jobs are integral to our musical lives, both in terms of creative growth and financial stability. We don’t depend on music to pay the bills, so we can be uncompromising in terms of the product of our efforts. The music forms as an accretion of life experiences, which for us revolve around technology, identity and expression, both in work and personal life.
One piece of studio gear you can’t live without? And how about a plugin you’ve been using a lot lately?
If it counts as studio gear, then a good field recorder is the essential tool. A lot of our work is composed of manipulated recordings, so being able to capture sounds easily is very important.
Since making the switch to Max/MSP, we now roll our own; it’s safe to say that Max/MSP is our plugin of choice.
What do you hope people take away from your music?
It’s impossible to know exactly how people will react, so we can’t design for a specific emotion. What we do is present a cinematic narrative that is both very alien and very familiar. In that sense we hope only that the listener is immersed so that they can experience the soundscape without attachment.
Outside of music, what has been inspiring you guys lately?
Joe: the fundamental workings of the universe as we understand it. Space, time, mass, energy, I’m trying my best to form a good understanding of how they fit together and how to mentally model higher-dimensional and quantum concepts.
Jason: Deconstruction, neural networks, procedural audio. Incorporating these things into musical systems.
Talk to us a bit about your upcoming release DTND 004.
DTND004 is a milestone for us as it represents a long transitional period in our creative lives during which we solidified our ideas about how and why we produce music. This has involved changes in our technological approach, the refinement of field recording techniques, and an increased emphasis on a visual context mapped to the auditory domain.
Conceptually the tracks are scenes within a far-future world populated by machine-organisms. Although the sound palette is mostly industrial and might seem brutal, there is an underlying idea that to experience the sensorium of another is understandably alien. But if machines are extensions of ourselves, are they truly alien?
Tell us about the the previous contest you held… how about the winning fridge picture ?
For the Fridge/Apache release in 2014 we asked people to take a picture of the contents of their fridge. We got a kick out of the winning fridge, a fridge full of audio paraphernalia, and they got a copy of the 12”.
This time around a copy of DTND004 is up for grabs. Field recording is central to our process, and we focus on capturing certain kinds of sounds. What kind of sound resonates with you? Make a recording, upload it to soundcloud, and add it to the group!
Connect with DAAT: Soundcloud, Facebook, and their website.