On Ninja Tune
Alfred Darlington isn’t a paint-by-numbers musician. From how he looks
(early Victorian Dandyism), to how he makes music, or how he expresses
himself and views the world, his is a very individual ‘bespoke’ outlook.
Alfred was born in Santa Monica in 1977 to an artist mother and professor father. Musical from very early on, as a child he was classically and jazz-trained in a number of instruments, but his interests were broad and varied – less a prodigy than a renaissance boy whose obsessions ranged from Greek legend to the mountains of Wales. As a 15 year old he finally persuaded his parents to take him to the Principality. Whilst in a YWCA in London he flipped the radio dial, found a pirate radio station and taped some UK rave and hardcore. “It was my first ‘Eureka!’ moment in music,” he says.
Back in the US he joined local rock bands, jazz bands and ska bands, which he enjoyed but felt limited by, too. At home he was listening to Warp, Ninja and your harder electronic stuff. He started DJing out the more leftfield side of drum & bass and making his own rudimentary productions. They were meant to fit the d&b template but they kept turning out different and from his outsider’s experiments his own style was born. He chose the name Daedelus as he had a childhood obsession with invention, and what was he doing, after all, if not tinkering and fiddling and experimenting like the “gentleman inventors” of old?
In 1999 he started DJing on Dublab.com for his 'Entropy Sessions' and began dropping in his own early demo productions. Carlos Nino (of Ammoncontact) had the show after him and usually pushed Alfred out the studio as quickly as possible as he was not so enamoured with Alfred’s leftfield-electronic DJ style, but when he heard a tranquil Daedelus production he took Daedelus and introduced him to the LA scene. Nino placed Daedelus tracks on two influential compilations and then Plug Research released his debut album, 'Invention' in 2002. Remixers included Madlib, who later took Daedelus' accordion parts and used them on 2004's Madvillain record.
In 2003, he was booked to play a show in San Diego by Brian Crabtree and Peter Siegerstrong and the pair asked him to test out an early prototype of the Monome. "It’s a Non-traditional electronic instrument,” Daedelus explains. “Basically it allows for massive improvisation." Since then Daedelus has continued to use this revolutionary controller, bringing much genuine liveness to the sometimes static world of performed electronic/dance music.
In 2003 he did 'The Weather' album with Busdriver and Radioinactive and the remix album 'Rethinking the Weather' on Mush records. 2004 saw the release of 'Of Snowdonia' on Plug Research, the album with which Daedelus says he first “felt true artistic confidence, finding a true voice. I was finally in the right zone.”
There was certainly no let up in his creativity. Also in 2004 he released the concept album 'A Gent Agent' on micro-label Laboratory Instinct. The 2005 album 'Exquisite Corpse' on Mush featured the likes of TTC, Mike Ladd and MF DOOM. Ninja signed Daedelus for UK/Europe (a relationship which reached its full expression on 2008's 'Love To Make Music To', his first album for the label worldwide and put together with the help of their team).
In 2006 'Denies the Day's Demise' came out, a record showcasing his love of Brazilian music. Last year he released his first live album, 'Live At Low End Theory', and 'Fairweather Friends EP'. Later that year came the release of his collaboration with his wife, Laura Darling, as the pastoral 'The Long Lost'.
Since his last album 'Love To Make Music To' for Ninja there has been no let up in Daedelus’ productivity. He has remixed or been remixed by and produced with all of his LA scene peers including Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing, The Gaslamp Killer, Baths, and countless others from further afield. In addition, singles and EPs under his own name have come out with Brainfeeder, All City, Magical Properties (the Daedelus home-imprint), Alpha Pup, Warp and Stones Throw. And all the while his reputation has grown internationally, his place in the LA scene has also solidified as a musician that many of the hottest names in the city turn to for everything from bass clarinet licks to advice on obscure electronics; all the while with a continuous string of tour dates across North America, Asia, Europe, the UK, and beyond.
2011 starts not only with his new album but the meticulous planning of a huge tour featuring guest vocalists from his 'Bespoke' LP and with a spectacular visual show curated in part by Emmanuel Baird (of Manchester's Warehouse Project and Hoya Hoya nights) which will feature a top secret new invention codenamed ARCHIMEDES, promising to yet again re-invent live electronic performance.