Deader than Discoby Mahala High Five Brigade / 13.09.2013
DeaderThanDisco is a Joburg-based electro duo formed by lifelong friends Dale Allman and Garrick Jones. After experimenting with various styles of music and being in bands such as Start The Fire and That Boy is a Firestorm, they started DTD in 2012. The group has achieved quite a bit of commercial success in a short span of time with considerable rotation on 5fm and they’ve recently returned from touring the country where they belted out their tunes to the coiffed boyches at Tiger Tiger clubs all over Mzansi. They’re bringing the Puma Social Club to a close tonight, following Big Fkn Gun and Dirty Paraffin with their brand of hardcore, dirty electro. We had the chance to ask them about how they got into the electro scene, meeting Steve Aoki and their take on Mzansi club culture.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you guys meet up and when did you decide to form DeaderThanDisco?
We met in grade 0 and have been like brothers ever since. This all started pretty much because of Dale’s interest in recording some acoustic material and that somehow resulted in something extremely un-acoustic. From that point Garrick got involved and the rest is pretty much DeaderThanDisco.
Briefly explain other projects you were involved in. What different genres have you played and does that feed into the sound you’re creating now?
We first began our musical journey when we were about 13, playing our guitars really badly in a friend’s garage with a P.A that gave us electrical shocks through the microphone and guitar strings. That was probably a great contributor to our slight hearing loss. After we grew up a little and entered high school we experimented with other kinds of rock, acoustic and metal core, and this is when our interest for heavier music in general began.
What ultimately led you guys to produce electro?
The final push to making the transition to electronic music in totality was with our last project before DTD where we were experimenting with sounds to bring some danciness and breakdowns that were a lot more electronically inspired.
Do you only drop your own tunes in your sets?
We always drop a fair mix between our own originals/ DTD remixes and other artists’ electro bangers. A lot of the time it boils down to the venue. For instance, at club shows people generally want to hear tunes they know, so we might drop hard remix’s of popular songs or DTD mashups etc… as long as its party.
Your name sounds kinda self-deprecating. What’s the story behind that?
The name DeaderThanDisco was just meant to be. Dale was making a Soundcloud account for the first track and literally just typed the name. After that it just made sense, bringing something edgy and different to the electronic music scene.
What has been the biggest achievement of your career so far?
We would have to say it’s a tie between being chosen as the Mix Mag international finalists for that Steve Aoki competition and charting on 5FM.
How did you get to play with Steve Aoki in Amsterdam? What did you take away from that experience?
We entered Olmeca Tequila’s Steve Aoki remix competition and were lucky enough to be chosen by Mix Mag as the international finalists along with Sour and Sweet from Russia. This was the first time we realised we could actually do this whole dance music thing. It was also really helpful hearing his perspective and criticism on our tracks. He pointed out things we had never actually taken into consideration.
You’ve just toured the country for your Tiger tour. Tell us a bit about it and what was your standout memory during this experience?
Our standout memory would definitely have to be our first show of this Tiger Tiger Tour which was down in Cape Town. Lakota Silva, HC and Ameen Harron performed live vocals and the crowd really responded to this live element. This was the first time we had ever heard the lyrics to one of our tracks chanted by a crowd.
What is the most challenging part of travelling and what are essential items that you always take with you on tour?
As we are new to this lifestyle the most challenging part of travelling would have to be all the waiting. You can never just relax and get a bit Zen. Something that we are still getting to grips with is learning to be productive in this time. We are always in such a rush before leaving that essential items are forgotten and on our show days be sure to look out for us at shops buying our essential forgotten items.
Tiger Tiger seems to attract a certain crowd, namely young, affluent jock types. Is this a correct assessment? Did you feel like you were just playing to the same type of crowd the whole time?
We found that the crowd differed quite heavily from club to club and city to city. Some of the clubs tended to have this kind of crowd, but it seems to have been watered down a lot compared to the way it was a few years ago. However the reception from all of the different crowds was really amazing regardless of the type of people that were attending. We reckon electronic music these days is blurring the lines between party cultures.
What sums up club culture in Mzansi for you?
You can’t really sum up the club culture in South Africa because it’s so different and we reckon this is due to the spread of different cultures within South Africa. You can go to a big electro jam in New Town and then walk down the road and experience a straight up afro house party and then get in into your car drive to another suburb and hear commercial radio hits somewhere else. This differs even more between city to city. Overall though, South Africa’s club scene has really shown some local flavour which is really cool to see, specifically in more city central areas.
What are you guys listening to at the moment?
We go through phases a lot with music and the genres we are listening to, but at the moment we are still listening to our golden oldies. Kind of stuck in the past with bands like Emery, Enter Shikari, Senses Fail, A Day To Remember and Funeral For A Friend, but in our cars we keep the dance music going to keep current and to keep us feeling the party mood!
How has the reception of your latest offering ‘Gooi Vol 1 EPK’ been so far?
The reception is way, way more than we ever dreamed of. Radio has been such an epic medium for us. The support of Campus Radio stations, 5FM and their listeners has been overwhelming and we couldn’t be more grateful! Radio was really a game changer for us in South Africa.
What excites you about pursuing a career in music?
The possibility of doing what you love forever.
Tell us about the collaborative process. Do you guys have certain roles when making a track? Do you fill in for each other when it comes to your strengths and weaknesses?
One of us normally comes up with a rad idea regarding the music or lyrics, from here we will produce the track into its rough structural form and this is where our strengths and weaknesses come into play big time. This is because either one of us might not be feeling a certain section of the track and the other will come and provide an idea to get over this hurdle. The process however changes a lot if and when vocals come into play, sometimes a vocal might change the entire direction of the track altogether.
Which part of your job do you dig the most? Producing or djing? Is djing just a means to an end in terms of getting your tunes out there?
Most definitely producing. Producing is our passion; the studio is where we feel the most alive as the creative process is what is fundamentally exciting. DJ’ing is a channel to get our music out there and to interact with people through our music. DJ’ing was rather foreign to us in the beginning because being in bands and performing is very different to DJ’ing. So it’s something that we have definitely grown into and getting to grips with more and more.
What’s your guys take on the electro scene in Mzansi? Do you find that producers are putting a unique local spin on it or do they prefer to create a sound that is more globally accessible?
We feel that South African producers are definitely putting a lot of local flavour into their tunes. We find the tracks with local flavour tend to be the ones that create the most traction within South Africa. However we feel the local vibe is now globally accessible. People from Europe and the States are looking for something new in music and South Africa has this by the truck loads.
Who makes you want to up your game, whether locally or abroad?
There are so many artists that it’s quite hard to pin point specific ones, but we would definitely mention Haezer and Das Kapital locally. Porter Robinson and Madeon internationally.
Big Fkn Gun and Dirty Paraffin both have a kind of downtempo, lo-fi electronic sound. So, in a way, you guys are the odd ones out in the line-up. Does this pose a challenge in terms of what you’re going to play at PSC?
Yes definitely! But every show is different, we always structure out set according to who and where our show is, but we always stay true to ourselves as artists.
What can people expect from your set this Friday?
A whole ton of energy! We make sure that every show is jam packed with energy whether you like it or not.