Dan Deacon Live Toronto

Dan Deacon gets hyper-interactive tonight at Lee's

Dan Deacon may be best known for his live shows — the level of interactivity and energy at which is almost incomparable — but he's also a compositional whiz, having completed a graduate degree in electro-acoustic and computer music at State University in New York. Since then he's released eight studio albums, has scored major films, and written and composed orchestral works. We talked about his latest score for the Coppola-directed horror film Twixt, his work with The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and his latest LP America. He plays Lee's Palace tonight (tickets available at the door for $15) and if you have an iPhone, you'll be able to participate in the show yourself.

You recently scored Twixt, can you tell me a little about that process? Could you speak to some of the challenges of scoring a horror film.

It was a pretty surreal experience, very different for the way that I normally work. But it's fun to work on something that exists in a different context and separate universe (the film universe). It allows me to make choices and think differently, to make choices that I wouldn't otherwise make.

You recently released a free iPhone app to be used at your shows. Can you tell me how it works and how it's meant to enhance your concerts?

It is used to turn all of the phones in the room into a light and sound source. It synchronizes all the phones using a calibration tone. I think it enhances the performance since it creates a spatial environment of light and sound that could never otherwise be created. I've been really happy with the results of this first tour using it, and I'm excited to develop it further.

Do any venues in particular lend themselves to the interactivity of your shows?

The audience is more important than the venue...it really depends on the mindset of the audience. I ultimately always prefer a sober, cognizant audience.

How did you hook up with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony earlier this year and did it influence America?

Their conductor Edwin contacted me and asked if I wanted to be involved in the series. It's something that I've been wanting to do for some time, since I was an undergrad in college. It was a lot of work and a really great learning experience. I'm very glad I did it — it was certainly a huge influence on the acoustic elements of America.

Why the shift from an electronic to more instrumental sound on America?

I just wanted to branch out into more timbres and sound textures. I've worked almost exclusively with the family of electronics and percussion. With America I wanted to dive into the other main families of sound (strings, brass and winds). I'd love to focus on the voice more in future work.

Would you describe the album as a political record?

It has political elements, but I think ultimately it's a personal record. The lyrics are mostly me raising questions about my role in American society and what it means to be an American in this day and age. Musically the themes are based on the vast landscapes and the geography of the country.

You're known for your live shows. Who (else) do you think puts on the best live shows and why?

Future Islands and Ed Schrader's Music Beat put on great live shows. They each put their own personalities into the performance and don't hold anything back.


What distracts you on stage? People talking in the front.

Last album you bought? I bought all the skoal kodiak tracks I could find on iTunes right before tour.

Last thing you cooked? I make a lot of sandwiches for lunch. Jeremy, one of the drummers, does most of the cooking for us on the road.

Favourite Toronto band? I loved DD/MM/YYYY. Haven't heard their new projects but I'm looking forward to it.

Favourite piece of gear? Currently my OP-1

Photo by Caesar Sebastian on Flickr

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