Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interview with Zach Robinson of D/A/D

I bought the D/A/D album The Construct on a whim. It was released on a great label, Hausu Mountain, run by Doug and Max from Good Willsmith and I always figure it doesn't hurt to buy a cassette. A tape is a tape. It's generally worth a cheap purchase and a listen. At the time I listened to the album (and still I suppose), I had been reading a bunch of 20th century Japanese lit - Yukio Mishima, Junichiro Tanizaki, Kenzaburo Oe. During my initial listen, however, I was reading a great book put out by Duke University press called Japanoise, which talked about the transnational cassette trade sparked by Japanese noise output and North American curiosity. At one level, it seemed appropriate because of an industrial fetishization of Japanese culture that results in fictitious cities like the Neotokyo of Blade Runner or Stephenson's Snow Crash - a concentration on technology and its impact. And then, of course, there was the fact that I was listening to a cassette.

Having recently been listening to a bunch of Japanoise like Hijokaidan, Merzbow, MSBR, and more, D/A/D's pleasant sound was a bit of a change, but a more than welcome one. The Construct seems like a forgotten 1980s relic. Parts of it sound like a John Carpenter movie and parts of it sound like J-pop. It's happy music though, which is somewhat novel to me if I'm serious. It's also different than anything that I had been used to hearing from music in 2013.

The project is made by Zach Robinson who describes D/A/D as "Channeling the 1980s through cyberspace exploration and sonic synthesis." It is a totally appropriate description of the music and ideology. You can read more about the project on D/A/D's FACEBOOK PAGE.

Zach also recently released a music video, which can be seen HERE. It's a really fun video of some alien humanoids who enjoy jetskis and tropical fun!

D/AD has recently been featured on NPR as one of the best cassette releases of 2013 and I couldn't agree more.

Jordan: Does D/A/D stand for anything? How did you decide on the name?

Zach: It originally didn't stand for anything. A friend of mine told me I should name it that, haha. It's very random but I never thought this project would pick-up in any capacity so I didn't think too much about the name. About two years after I started, I retroactively made it stand for "Day After Discovery" in order to optimize my Googleability. I ended up hating that and went back to plain old D/A/D! Pronounced DEE-AY-DEE, by the way.

J: Your music seems inspired a lot by the 80s and also a sort of textured playful machinery. Is that on purpose? What inspired it?

Z: Absolutely. D/A/D is indeed heavily inspired by the music, pop culture, aesthetics, and attitudes of the 1980s. My goal was never to straight-up imitate sounds from this decade though, I've always strived to create my own sound while paying deep homage to the '80s. I don't remember exactly why I started to create this music, but I think it was because it's full of such bright and vivid imagery. I work best with visuals and the 1980's are an endless source of them.

J: What was the process of making The Construct like? How long did it take? Where did you record it?

Z: "The Construct" took around three years for me to finish, and it was recorded mostly in my home(s), one in Chicago while I was studying in school and one at home in LA. The idea for the album itself came pretty late in the game. I had about seven songs completed needing a home and since I had never released a full length album, it made sense to put one together.

J: The song "Love Will Make You Stay" is a little bit different than the other songs on "The Construct" - it has vocals. How did that song come about?

Z: That song was about an inch away from being released as an instrumental and I'm so glad that didn't happen. My pal Charlie (USA Gold) had shown me a track he was working on by himself. We ended up finishing the track together and I knew it needed some vocals but I was impatient and wanted to release the song anyways. Luckily, I had met Sharaya at a bar in Silverlake where I frequent karaoke and when I listened to her music I knew she was the one to take it to a whole other level. The original track was called "Neural Highway" but after she added her lyrics, it changed to what it is now. It was an awesome collaboration and I could not be happier with the end product.

J: Do you get to play live much? Do you have any plans to play live?

Z: I play usually once a month, maybe once every two months. I love playing live and I wish I did it more often but I don't have too much time. I'm playing my first show in San Francisco at DNA lounge next month which I can't wait for. If I can get time off from work at some point, I'd love to tour!

J: What all is in the future for yourself and D/A/D?

Z: For now, I'm just focusing on my career in film music. I'd like to release another D/A/D album soon, but I said that back in 2010 and it took me up until last summer to deliver on that. I do have some secret, rather ambitious plans that I'm not ready to talk about yet though, haha!

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