Interviews

Dan Deacon: The Avant-Garde Pop Artist Feels "Out of Place" Everywhere He Goes

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Does Wham City have a lot to do with that?

I'd say Wham City is a factor in it, yeah. It's another time sponge and project that I love working on. I'm bad at segmenting my time, which is why I took three years to put this album out.

Are you relieved to have it out now? Oh yeah, very much. The way a record exists is so weird. It exists in my head, then it exists in a demo form on a computer, then it exists in its finalized form, then it exists to the label, then it exists to the press, then its exists to the public, then it exists trying to get more of the public who didn't initially hear about it to hear about it. It comes in waves. "Lots" has been out since May or June, a very long time and it's still a new song in the catalog. I've been playing this song live for a couple years now, so even though it's a "new" song, it still has this weird energy and vibe.

Which is why I always try to keep the set a third old material, a third just released material and a third unreleased material. I think it keeps the set fresh and me fresh and it's a nice mixture of old, now and new.

I think that's a good equation. I like when bands do that, they don't do the Radiohead route where they don't play anything old. Radiohead does that? I didn't realize that. They've been a band for decades, I can relate to that.

So a while ago, I noticed Jimmy Joe Roche directed a few of your videos. I've seen some his stuff before like Toothbeef Sandwich and never made the connection before. Let me tell you this made me insanely happy. What's your relationship like with Jimmy?

We were good friends in college and lived together, worked together and collaborated a lot in college. When he moved to Baltimore, he moved into Wham City and we just kept working and we just had a strong working relationship. And we're tight bros.

Is he doing any videos for you coming up? I don't know. We talk about a lot of projects, but I'm not sure what videos are in the mix and he's working a large museum show at the moment.

You've created a few videos that went viral. You're like OK Go, but with way more talent. What's it like waking up in the morning and finding your latest single has hit the front page of YouTube? It feels a little crazy. It gives it a weird place. I don't know how to describe it other than that.

Newsweek wrote this article about people that became famous on the Internet really quickly and how it creates this, like, psychosis. The guy that did Kony 2012 video, like lost his mind. It's this whole phenomenon, the pressure of so much fame on the internet drove him a little nuts. Have you ever felt that way?

Um, I don't know. No. I mean, definitely there are times that I feel like insanity starts to escape me, but I've never had anything like the Kony 2012 video. For awhile, I had a couple of my own videos and a successful single that ... were very much in the underground. I've been doing this for a while and it grew organically amongst those weird things. So, no, I don't think so. But I don't know if anyone ever notices if they're going insane. Isn't that the whole point of insanity?

Good point. Do you think being an Internet celebrity actually means anything these days? [laughs] I've never really thought about it. I think we exist within a time when everyone's always at the cusp of being something like that. Many people have that desire and some people have that outcome without ever wanting that desire. The Internet creates a lot of opportunity for situations like that. For some people, it's exciting and for some people it's a byproduct of what they do. Do you know what I mean?

But I don't know. The word "important "is a wild word. I really like the song "What What (In the Butt)" by Samwell, but I don't know if it's "important."

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah