Photo by Jake Bergman in Bloomington, IN
Daedelus (né Alfred Weisberg-Roberts) is one of LA’s hardest working musicians. His music sounds like a concoction of unlikely samples and effects that warp and shift into often beautiful, sometimes monstrous forms. His manner of dress takes cues from the Victorian era, and his aesthetic reminds me a little of what Steampunk might be in a musical context, merging the past and future into a fantastic present. A founding DJ of Dublab and an avid crate-digger, Daedelus answered our questionnaire to talk about his upcoming EP Righteous Fists of Harmony (Brainfeeder), living in LA and inventors of musical instruments.
EM: You’ve been prolific in the past decade, frequently putting out new records and EPs within and outside the Daedelus name. How did you reach this level of productivity and attention to your craft?
I believe wholeheartedly it is important to stay working. There are very few naturally talented artists out there–the occasional prodigy, born genius, etc. Most musicians (myself very included) get to where we are in this crazy, creative world through hard practice and never relenting. Not that it guarantees anything; luck is as much a factor sadly, but with the Internet’s reach and music’s now-ever-present-everywhere in our lives, chance is being minimized.
Simply I feel very lucky for this opportunity and relish every chance to express again that conviction…
EM: Musically, how is working under your Daedelus moniker different from more classical-sounding projects like The Long Lost?
It is the difference in solo work versus group thought. As Daedelus I tend to give into all my crazy thoughts, the twists and turns in productions will go this way and that way pretty much as it will. I almost feel like I have little say in the matter. Whilst the Long Lost for instance is two on all decisions (Laura Darlington, my wife and co-conspirator for the Long Lost, is quite good at the recording desk or behind a mic playing instruments or singing), that keeps the crazy much more domesticated. That, and we are interested at this time in songwriting that isn’t altogether traditional, but has more elements people can access, I believe.
EM: Tell us a little about your upcoming Righteous Fists of Harmony. What can we expect from this new record?
As answering the above question, this is my solo indulgence. You see “Righteous Fists of Harmony” is in reference to the so-called Boxer Rebellion of 1898 until 1901, where Chinese nationals tried to expel a foreign occupying force of British and a loose collection of seven other countries. This three-year conflict was waged with magic and gunpowder, quite seriously, and is as epic a tale as it is startling history. I really endeavored to make some kind of musical sense out of it, only with the restriction of a short 26 minutes.
EM: Tell us about your involvement with Dublab. How did your relationship with the organization begin?
Dublab is an amazing non-profit, which concerns itself mainly in Internet radio, but also does all kinds of creative projects. I’ve been a DJ there since 1999 and actually knew the founders from a little time before that through college radio at USC. Time at Dublab has been incredibly enriching, not only in meeting so many amazing local and international musicians, but also as an outlet for my sounds in their “freeways” compilation (my very first released song) to the In The Loop series and most recently Secondhand Sureshots with Ras G, Nobody, and J.Rocc.
EM: What is “Future Roots” music to you?
Lasting sounds, things that pull forward and back all the same, basically the sound others will be sampling in the future to make their masterpieces.
EM: Where do you project music, particularly hip-hop, will be headed in the next decade?
Ha! This question is a famous sword people keep throwing themselves on. Hip-hop isn’t dead, it’s not a museum piece quite yet, not a gravestone marking where Brooklyn or the Bronx once stood. Sure it might not be the pop music of choice going into the next decade, but with all this youth energy on the subject, from Jerk, to Juke, to Purple, to Skweee, and beyond, all relating to and those things before hip-hop. It won’t go so easy into the night.
Ha, well Mr. Moog did get his start building theremins, but of course the Moog name has been attached to hundreds of great inventions that have gone on to change the course of music in a greater fashion than the wonderful but limited recordings of Mr. Theremin’s instruments (he went on to make more interesting inventions). Who’s to say who’s the better man. Both are for the record books in my mind, along with Raymond Scott and more recently Roger Linn and Dave Smith.
EM: Without giving too much away, what are some prized finds within your record collection?
Possibly most prized and rarest is a studio-only copy of the Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) soundtrack that has Anthony Newley singing all the parts hilariously and includes some unreleased songs (purchased for 75 cents).
EM: As an L.A. native, what are some of your favorite places in the city?
Growing up near the sea in Santa Monica, I am still affected by the Pacific at night. Also I am into eating the goodness LA has on offer, not snobby about it, plenty of real taco trucks carting awesomeness all over the city, and then the incidental super-expensive meal every once-in-a-while. We are absurdly lucky to have these options of high- and low-brow deliciousness.
Who are your all-time favorite emcees and DJs?
EM: Out of all your inventions, what are you most proud of?
If only I really could… I’m only making music, I sometimes feel more like a cobbler than an inventor.
EM: If you had to give any advice to aspiring musicians, what would you tell them?
Not to sound like an after-school special from the ’90s, but “Be Yourself” is quite the well-lived motto. Since everything you do will haunt you evermore, you’d better make it something you can live with and love for a long time. Also have some fun, dress up a bit fancy, inhabit a story that is all your own, and for the love of love don’t give up…