You know those shows that make you feel like if you don’t attend, the entire world will stop in its tracks and crumble? The ones that make you anxiously wait for the clock to hit 10 am EST (3 months in advance) so that you can furiously press the refresh button on your internet browser in hopes of scoring tickets, and if you don’t you feel like your life no longer has a purpose? This year, that show for me was Giraffage + Slow Magic‘s So Cute! tour making an appearance at Webster Hall. I made sure I was all set to attend the moment that the show date was released and prepared myself for the long wait I had ahead of me. But last Friday, November 20th 2015, the moment finally came and I ventured out to see two of the glo-fi pioneers work their magic in real life!
Opening for them was British 23-year-old producer/DJ, Daktyl, with whom I had the opportunity to sit down and chat about his music and upcoming projects. His set was phenomenal – one of the most unique I’ve ever seen. His musical style doesn’t conform to the rules of one singular genre, instead he uses distinct instrumental elements to experiment and introduce something new through all of his tracks. One of his more popular tracks – ‘Jungle Pips’ – would appeal to ODESZA fans because of how it mixes soft, light, pitter-pattery sounds with heavy drum steps to create a hybrid between drum’n’bass and chillpop. However, something like ‘Stay ft. Dive Deep’ would be more up the Chet Faker lovers of the world as it’s comprised of a mixture of future classic/downtown sounds. He did a great job in priming the crowd, pulling out a bunch of tricks he had up his sleeve. For starters, he knew his way around a MIDI Drum Pad Controller – a highly undervalued skill, in my opinion – and in the middle of his performance, he whipped out a bass guitar and started jamming to his beats. In addition to being an incredibly talented producer, he’s also a pretty cool guy. Keep scrolling to read our exclusive interview with Daktyl!
I’d be lying if I said that tears did not stream down my face when Slow Magic lit up the stage with the multicolored extension of his persona, the sound-sensitive electroluminescent mask. One of the most interesting things about the act of attending a concert to fuel your musical soul is that you know (or at least you think you know) exactly what you’re getting yourself into simply by taking into account the genre of the artist you’re planning on watching. Classic rock: a bunch of old guys battling it out with their electric guitars whilst playing excessively long versions of their 1981 hit classics. R&B: a young guy wearing over-sized pants bopping up and down to the rhythm of his broken heart, belting out an abundance of vocal runs with his velvety-smooth vocal chords. Big-room EDM: an ultra ripped bro (sometimes two of them) wearing a sleeveless white tank top and, more likely than not, a snapback facing backwards spontaneously twisting knobs on a brand-new Traktor Kontrol system with a massive superiority complex.
The thing about Slow Magic is that he defies this rule. There was no preconceived image I could associate him with because he’s his own genre. I can’t accurately describe what he does on-stage with words because it was unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. I can say, however, that he does a remarkable job with synthesizing pre-recorded electronic music with live instrumentation; arguably one of the most exciting aspects of his show was the clear case drum he’d pound on to raise the crowd’s energy levels. He played everyone’s favourite Slow Magic grooves including ‘Still Life‘, ‘Waited 4 U‘, and of course, ‘Girls‘. However, the highlight of his set for me was when he slipped in his remix of ODESZA‘s ‘Say My Name‘ remix, which shouldn’t be classified as a remix, in my opinion, because it’s dramatically different from the original. Perhaps it was the mysterious aura surrounding him that made his presence so enticing, or maybe it was just his flashy mask, but I know I can speak on behalf of everyone who witnessed his set in saying that this is one show that was worth the wait.
But the magic wasn’t over yet. The lights dimmed and for the first time ever in Webster Hall history, the Grand Ballroom was pitch black. “Giraffage! Giraffage!” the crowd couldn’t wait to see the quirky, angsty boy that originally put the ‘GLO’ in glo-fi. Suddenly, the screen on-stage lit up and displayed his name in 84-bit, old school Super Mario Bros. type letters floating against a sky-blue background and bouncing off pixelated clouds. Only one thing was going through my mind at this point – this is something Giraffage would do. Fog began to emerge from the shadows as he introduced himself and let his first track make its way from the walls of his MacBook to the booming speakers that surrounded the venue – All That Matters. He then proceeded to hit us with a crowd-favourite – ‘Close 2 Me‘ – and sealed the deal with his remix of Mapei‘s ‘Don’t Wait‘. Although hearing him play his own tracks was a definite treat, the highlights of his set were when he dropped his BANGING remix to the world’s favourite current hit, Drake‘s ‘Hotline Bling‘, and when he threw it way back and sampled R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition‘. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20 years of living is that there is NEVER a wrong time to play R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition‘. The combination of graphics, set design, and music involved in the performance gave the illusion that we were trapped in a dance-infused magical dream and we never wanted it to end. 10/10, Giraffage, 10/10.
Exclusive Interview w/ Daktyl:
TFM: How did you come up with the name ‘Daktyl’? Was it a reference to pterodactyls? Do you just really like dinosaurs?
I do love dinosaurs, but it actually has nothing to do with that. It’s kind of a weird story, honestly, I was in Amsterdam with some friends and they were on some substances, hallucinogenics for clarification, which are legal there!! Basically we were going from coffee shop to coffee shop, and my friend was collecting big balls of wax from all the candles at these coffee shops. At the end of the day he was like, “yo Rich, I’ve got a ‘dactyl’!” and I was like, “what?” and he had this huge ball of wax and I said, ‘is that called a dactyl?” It was very bizarre, but it made sense at the time and a week later I googled the name and it wasn’t taken, so I figured why not.
TFM: How did it all start for you? Did you play any instruments prior to entering the electronic music scene?
I started making music from a young age – I’m 23 now and I started about 3-4 years ago. I started putting stuff on SoundCloud and slowly started getting more and more plays and more traction. Then I did a remix for Dawn Golden from Mad Decent and then after that they decided to sign an early demo of an album that I had at the time, which turned out to be ‘Cyclical’ after maybe 3 or 4 months.
I’ve always made music, but I’ve only been in the electronic scene for about 3 years. I would see myself as an acoustic guitarist – I was trained as a pianist but I found sight-reading music to be quite boring so I started learning pieces by ear so I guess I’ve been playing piano for a while.
TFM: Most memorable night, both as a DJ and as an attendee?
As a DJ, possibly playing Mad Decent Block Party at Detroit this year, that was a crazy show. There’s been so many amazing shows and every time I come off the stage I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do this. Tonight was also one of the highlights, it’s been very fun tonight! Webster’s fun.
In terms of attendance, there has been a concert that I’d say changed my life but I wasn’t actually there in person. It was the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s live at Slane Castle performance, I had it on DVD and I’d watch it over and over again when I was 12. Their stage presence and John Frusciante’s guitar-playing, just everything about their performance was unbelievable to me. Live performance, honestly, I’d have to go with Jack Beats – I saw him when I was 17 and that was an insanely good set, enough to inspire me to try my hand at producing!
TFM: Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m not sure if I want you to know this, but I used to be a sailing coach! I used to teach sailing to some kids. I still love sailing, which most people wouldn’t expect.
TFM: Which artist would you say has helped shape your music the most? Biggest inspirations?
So many, honestly. I mentioned Frusciante earlier, his melodies were just on another level and both his live and solo projects have been incredibly inspiring to me over the year. More recently, people like Flying Lotus, Four Tet, and Caribou.
TFM: Lots of changes in the EDM scene since the 90s – where do you think the scene is heading towards? A year from now? 5 years from now?
Well, it’s kind of impossible to say which is why music is such a fun thing to be involved with. Music is at a tipping point with everything being so easily accessible online so there’s no predicting what’s going to happen next in terms of trends because underground music can easily become the next big thing. I just think that as long as everyone keeps making what they love making it’s going to continue being a great place to be.
TFM: Biggest differences between the EDM scene in London and in NYC?
Honestly there hasn’t been much difference. I love playing shows and anyone who comes out to see me play a set I really appreciate, and I feel like the shows are generally quite similar wherever I go – which is awesome.
TFM: One track that you will never get tired of hearing?
There’s a lot of them. Top 3: Rival Consoles’ ‘Recovery’, any of the Jamie XX tracks from this year – this is a really hard question – *pauses* I guess anything by the Rolling Stones as well.
TFM: Plans for the future?
I’m going to keep making music, essentially, and enjoy doing it.