Darkness & Light: an interview with Dalhous – Telekom Electronic Beats

Darkness & Light: an interview with Dalhous

Words by B. Rosenbluth

 

Young Hunting‘s The Night of The Burning is one of the most intriguing and challenging releases on Blackest Ever Black (label of the year in our opinion), as well as in recent memory. As if it were the soundtrack to a non-existent film or  play, the young Scottish duo Marc Dall and Alex Ander wove a foreboding psychodrama. Now, no longer so tortured, they’ve channeled a new sense of awe into the beatscapes they’ve just produced as Dalhous on the Mitchell Heisman EP, soon to drop on BEB. BL4CK M4G1CK correspondent Brandon Rosenbluth pricks and prods Dall to get some deeper insight into their music-making ideology.

 

 

So the first tracks have just surfaced on BEB’s soundcloud from your new project Dalhous. Why the name change?

We were developing the second Young Hunting LP for over two years. It was constantly evolving, and we got fed up and had to restart several times. It got to a point where we could no longer identify with what we considered was a Young Hunting record. When we decided to move on, our material instantly found momentum and inspiration came very quickly (the first Dalhous EP and LP soon followed). The songs gradually lost their trappings to words and outward aggression; we just wanted to explore making ecstatic, intimate music. So that called for establishing a completely new project.

We recently looked back to the music we were making when we were 15/16 in our bedrooms. When we were recording music in the most primitive set ups, with cheap computer microphones, a handy zoom recorder and an assortment of cheap and nasty instruments.  We’re currently revisiting a lot of this material and bringing some it that forward for use on the second Dalhous LP which we have around twelve potential songs already lined up.

How is it that the end result was so far from your original intentions for the music…or was it?

It seems very strange to us. The Burning EP was only a small fraction of our ideas and interests, four songs out of around 60 + different ideas. We were working at a very fast rate, moving forward every day. We no longer have the same goals as when we started as YH three years ago. The majority of our work no one ever heard (for good reason). We made around four different To Tear Apart Structures records over the years and came to a new completely new set of variables each time. So that was a very interesting epiphany of sorts. Dalhous represents a move into a new set of expanding ideas, were focused on a completely different vibe with this project, I suppose we just simply want to make music really. Let go of all the limiting vocal ideas and overtly arcane references and come out into the open. Be more direct and focused. I think the music has turned out far more accessible since I’ve stopped standing in its way!

You obviously still have a somber edge even though it’s more beat-oriented and uptempo than the previous output. Funny that you got so dark without actually being into it – seems like the project took on a life of its own!

Yeah, of course it does, the music we make has always reflected the mood were in at the time. That will never change. I want our music to not be restricted by a cold, “dark” edge, that I felt the YH project suffered from. That’s not to say I don’t like “dark” music. We just feel this label is no longer interesting to us. The thing I was trying to say is that we just want to make music we would actually like to listen to afterwards, hence why I feel I personally failed with our two YH records; they are too personal and cathartic in an obvious way that I can’t stand to hear them as they just remind me of a very specific time and place.  They turned out to be very limited in their outward appeal. On hindsight I can’t see why anyone would want to listen to them!

 

 

I think it’s normal that you find it hard to listen to your own music after it’s been recorded and put out to the world. I go through periods when I don’t like my music any more and periods where it excites me. Perhaps too much of yourself is in the recordings which you can’t bear, or would find no purpose to confront any longer, but which other people can connect with and come back to.

I think it’s mainly just a severe switch in our approach to making music, I can’t say I really listen to any other music with vocals. At the moment I like to listen to William Basinski, Andy Stott, Nicholas Szczepanik, Demdike Stare or some of film soundtrack work when I go to bed to unwind. Obviously our music is still personal with or without vocals; I just feel we can go further with our music or take it to new places we couldn’t go when we take away the human voice as a guide. I don’t like the idea of scaling things down to fit a purely human perspective, at least not sonically. I think it is possible to make music that you’ll always enjoy; it’s just trying to make entire records worth of solid tunes that are well informed and not just a fleeting style or intent. One of the reasons music at large sickens me is the carelessness and lack of thought that goes into the process. When I listen to music I want to be changed somehow, not just merely whistled at.

You had very literary and cinematic references which it seems you want to shy away from because of being too arcane. Are they still there or have they just shifted as well? What is inspiring the new direction of the project?

I’m still very strongly influenced by cinema; more so than by music. A lot of song titles on the new records have nods to various filmmakers or even painters that I like. I suppose it’s just a subtle way to instill a bit of art history to each track if people want to look further into them. Most of all, it’s just the process of sitting down with bits of audio and playing around with them that continues to excite and consume my life, it’s the unexpected combinations that I continue to search for.

I have been reading a lot into the boom of awareness in psychiatry that was popularized and brought to mass attention during the 60s/70 by RD Laing. I found myself being really lured into his world and his approach to dealing with mental illness. The widely unseen documentary Asylum was a big influence on the types of emotions and settings I wanted to have on my mind as I went about discovering the tone of our first Dalhous LP. There’s a sort of confused, up and down rhythm to the personalities in the film, which I wanted to somehow bring into the flow of the record.  A whole mix of different kinds of perspectives and realities all bursting on the surface at the same time, explosions of energies and a kind of jittery buoyancy that disrupts the possibility of a free flowing thought or emotion.