A Date with Daedelus
By Dan MacIntosh
We get some one-on-one time with the electro-rock star just before he mesmerizes the masses at The Glass House
When Alfred Weisberg-Roberts, who performs under the name Daedelus, plays live, he doesn’t exactly perform the kind of music they taught him at the prestigious University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. He chose a far different path after college. This gravitation toward more radical electronic dance music can be compared to riding a cool Harley Davidson on a wide open road, rather than traveling by traditional train over a strictly prescribed track. Yes, Daedelus is a musical free spirit that just cannot be contained or controlled.
“I did switch fields,” Daedelus explains. “Mostly because I was studying jazz at USC, especially in double bass. It’s a beautiful instrument that I love dearly and it shows up on my tracks. But, truthfully, the world of jazz is a limited one. There’s a, ‘You will be playing the same music, the same five or six composers – the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s, Thelonious Monk and all this stuff. But you will be playing that for the rest of your life on maybe a cruise ship or, if you’re lucky, in some kind of dingy, dusty bar, much like classical music.’ You can only play for the same few people, and I kind of yearn for differences. So I kind of got out of that space and got into the electronic one because of the freedom.”
Even within the electronic dance music subculture, however, Daedelus is constantly pushing boundaries. He sometimes performs at big festivals, such as the Electric Daisy Carnival, where his unique take on this many times repetitive music stands out as being much more improvisatory and creative than what might be expected.
“I think there’s a lot of people who are not usually booked at these kind of massives—these raves that are doing this—that are expanding the conversation,” he says. “I kind of feel like I snuck in a little bit through the backdoor at some of these events. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other like-minded people. There’s an industry set around giving people an experience, more than playing the music or providing inspiration. We are made to be the soundtrack to people’s drunkenness, inebriation or other experiences. And I really like this idea that we can provide parts of that, but even more so, inspire towards other ideas when it’s good.”
Although Daedelus has, in his words ‘switched fields,’ he has by no means completely left jazz or improvisational music altogether. In fact, the tools of his trade these days actually provide plenty of room for spontaneous creativity in the live setting.
“The machine I’m using to perform is called a Monome,” he explains, “and it allows for a lot of improvisation. That’s why I was drawn to it. It allowed me to play samples like a piano player would play notes, but to then really color in the in between spaces and really work with the sounds—wrestle with it, in some ways.” This advanced and dynamic instrument has led Daedalus into collaborations with other non-EDM artists.
“I’ve been able to sit in with musicians,” he continues, “and not just be a metronome. There’s one group in particularly called Kneebody. They’re an incredible ensemble that are doing really pushing-forward jazz; beyond jazz. They’re playing all original compositions and really getting into some crazy places—sonically and arrangement-wise. I’ve played a lot with them now, and made records with them.”
However that’s not Daedelus’ only genre-bending collaboration. “There’s a drummer named Morgan Argren who played with The Mothers Of Invention when Frank Zappa was still alive, and I’ve done some work with him. He’s kind of more known for his death metal work, but he also does really fusion-y and pushing-forward jazz.”
Daedelus doesn’t view himself as a pioneer, as much as one that is part of the growth and evolution of contemporary music in general.
“I appreciate very much that there is a conversation going on,” says Daedelus of today’s various diverse genre collaborations. “As the music world is growing up, these crosspollinations are happening more and more, be it all different kinds of genres.”
Much has been said in the press lately about how pop music is intersecting a lot with electronic dance music artists, like David Guetta. Daedelus has no problem acknowledging what’s popular in music today. Even then, however, he still puts his unique fingerprint on it.
“Sometimes it’s fun to play a little something in a live setting to pique people’s ears because they know it from the radio,” Daedelus notes, “and then I like to just mangle and destroy it and move it somewhere else as quickly as possible.”
Don’t worry about such sudden changes in direction, though. That’s just Daedelus roaring down his unique freedom road.
Daedelus at The Glass House, 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Sat, Mar. 30, 7pm. $14-$16. All ages.