Dan Black's album "Un" is an amazing piece of weird electronic pop that I truly enjoy. It's been out for quite awhile actually – (since last summer to be precise) and it still continues to enthrall me whenever tracks like "Symphonies" and "U + Me" make a random appearance on my iPod. I've been trying to pin down Dan Black for awhile to ask him a few questions about the album and low and behold, I finally caught up with him in Toronto to gab about his current US tour, covering Madonna's "Into The Groove" and what he thinks of Jedward. Enjoy!
EQ: Hey Dan – how are you today and where are you answering our questions from?
Dan Black: I'm in a taxi in Toronto having just flown in from New York!
Your were recently at SXSW – how did that go? Any bands you are/were excited to see?
Well I was there yeah. It was pretty great if very intense – I think we did seven shows in three days! But there is a weird, unusual calmness to the madness so it wasn't too harsh. I didn't have much time to catch bands but I particularly liked War Paint, Holy Fuck and Neon Indian.
So your album "Un" has been out for awhile now – are you proud at how it turned out?
Well there's always stuff you would like to re-do. But the fact I did it totally on my own and in the restricted time scale I had, I still feel pretty good about it!
How is the US tour coming along?
Wonderfully. Having toured in other previous projects and bands all over the world, it's so cool to finally get to experience the US – I'm savoring every mouthful!
Which of your tracks on the album really give you goose bumps – personally speaking…
Well playing them live is where I get to rediscover the songs. And luckily it really varies night to night, which songs get me a-tingling. Last show it was "Wonder".
How did the collaboration with Kid Cudi come about on "Symphonies" ?
Pretty simply. A mutual friend played him some of my stuff – I liked it – he asked for an instrumental of symphonies – I sent it – two days later he sent me it back with vocal – I loved it – bish bash bosh – done!
I quite like "Pass That Head Noize" – what is that track all about?
Oh you, damn it with your faint praise… I guess "quite" is better than "don't". It's a sewn together Frankenstein monster of boyz noize/missy elliott/bob dylan/crystal castles I made for my "Weird Science" mixtape – which is still downloadable for free on my MySpace – plug plug.
You recently covered Madonna's "Into The Groove" at the Virgin Spirit event in NYC. Why that iconic Madonna track? Personally it's my favorite of hers. Does it have any significance to you?
I just loved it as a small kid, and like it's innocence. It reminds me over discovering pop and the unique neon joy that a great pop song can bring.
I love the visuals on your MySpace, but every time I see that image of you spitting out cassette tape, I get a little ill. Were you worried you might choke on that tape? That's quite dangerous you know Dan…
[Laughs] When we did it was part of a video shoot involving things being stop-frame animated on my face, which took two days of me sitting perfectly still as objects were glued to my face and moved about. So I kind of got desensitized to it all. And at one moment they had tape coming out of my mouth.
You have a bit of thing for shotguns, as visuals don't you? That's a bit gangsta rap of you. What's that all about? You don't strike me as the Notorious B.I.G. type.
Trust me there is very little that is "gangsta rap" about me. It kind of started as a joke, but then we got a foam giant gun made for a video at it just stuck. It kind of captures how I felt making the album, one man with one aim and function – with a gun for a head.
Everyone's banging on about 3D being the future of TV broadcasting. What are your thoughts on that. Would you like to watch telly with some 3D glasses on or is that really lame?
I want them to get on with the full 360 hologram version. So we go inside the film, not just watch it…
Jedward – utterly shit or mesmerizing? Are programs like X-Factor or American Idol killing music or do you not really care?
I live in Paris so the whole Jedward thing passed me by. I think the onus is on musicians to come up with exciting alternatives to Pop Idol TV pap. Its easy to moan, but the way to fight it is to offer a cool alternative.
Well thanks Dan for your time – any parting words for EQ readers?
Try, fail, try again, fail better…