Have you ever been to a Dan Deacon gig where he makes the whole audience do a whole bunch of stuff to involve them in the performance? He makes everyone sit down, stand up, lie down, run in circles and, recently, control their phones to create a sea of rainbow lights clutched by sweaty hands throughout the crowd. What’s even better is that these chaotic sweat-fests more often than not take place in galleries. Yeah, galleries! Full of expensive art and priceless old stuff. We wanted to chat to Dan about why he tends to gravitate towards this kind of venue for his immersive performances, his brand new music video (below), which comics he’s into, and why his album artwork is always SO good. Here he is…
I’ve been to see you before, I’ve been part of the human blender, have you ever been told off by a gallery for damaging anything?
Most of the time it’s totally not a problem. Like, the Museum of Natural History in New York was one of the most insane crowds I’ve ever played for. I thought I was going to actually die. However, one time at the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, Texas I was organising a crowd performance action that would have looped into and through the museum, and the museum freaked out and blocked the doors so no one could get in or out. But most of the time it’s fine. It’s the kind of anarchy that actually works because the focus of the show is how the audience is the show and everyone is working together to make it happen.
What I really wanted to speak to you about is how you perform in galleries. Why is that? What galleries do you like performing in, how did you start doing this, and what does it bring to the performance and musical experience that a music venue cannot?
I’m really most excited about playing anywhere that is open to experimenting with what a performance “can” or “should” be. It’s also really fun to have a raging party in a very sterile and usually calm environment.
Do you think a lot of artists and bands are forgetting to have a sense of humour?
I don’t think people forget but I do think they just know you make more money when you leave it out. The industry likes you to leave the humour backstage most of the time. There is a great deal of mystic as marketing device in the music industry.
"The Museum of Natural History in New York was one of the most insane crowds I’ve ever played for. I thought I was going to actually die."Dan Deacon
I read you went to Comic Con! Are you into comics?
I used to be and in some ways really want to get back into them. I did a tour of the Marvel offices and met the Spiderman team and the 11-year-old me would have been so pumped to know that one day that that would happen. But I was at Comic Con I was a speaker at a panel, I did a film score with Francis Ford Coppola and Val Kilmer.
I saw you had your album artwork for America made by SEEN studio, I love those guys! How do you normally decide on your album artwork and is it something you really enjoy having a hand in?
SEEN are awesome and have done the layout for several releases now. They are great at taking the artwork – in America’s case the photos by Richard Endres and in Gliss Riffers’ case the illustrations by Joanna Fields – and know exactly how to pair text, colour and other design elements to them to make it seem so natural and iconic.
"I did a tour of the Marvel offices and met the _Spiderman_ team. The 11-year-old me would have been so pumped to know that one day that that would happen."Dan Deacon
What artists, illustrators, cartoonists etc. are you into?
Jen Stark: I’m madly in love with her psychedelic paper cuts and murals.
Alan Resnick: I’m positive in a few years Alan will be ruling the world.
Fluct: Choreography duo from Brooklyn (via Baltimore) is constantly generating new and radical performances that leave me in awe.
Dina Kelberman: My favorite net artist. Really sees the world in a totally unique way and her work continues to blow me away.
Stavros Halkias: My favourite comedian right now.
Abdu Ali: My favourite Baltimore performer. great energy, curator and organiser. A truly beautiful human.