Because he shares a middle name with Thomas Alva Edison, electronic music producer and DJ extraordinaire Daedelus (Alfred Darlington) initially thought he'd become an inventor.
"I think the youthful question of what do you want to be when you grow up resonated in my head," says Daedelus, a smart, cutting-edge electronic musician who is championing up-and-coming talent on his "Magical Properties" tour currently swinging through the country. "There's no family connection [to Edison], but it briefly sparked my interest. I was into taking things apart and seeing how they worked. I liked transistors and power chords and all those dangerous pieces. I had no aptitude for putting things back together. I had no math skills. But I had an interest in the way things work and tick."
That interest in "the way things tick" enabled Daedelus, who studied music in a formal environment at the University of Southern California, to make the transition from jazz to electronic music. He admits music has become "a different kind of invention" for him since he took to the turntable and laptop just over ten years ago.
"There's this misconception that you're sold with jazz that through studying jazz you can make any music you want," he says. "You're told you can improvise whatever you want. This is true of many disciplines. When you go to school for a subject and see the actual guts of the thing, it changes your perception of it. For me, it wasn't a disappointment. It was just a clarity."
Daedelus originally started as a DJ and built up enough of a following in his native Southern California that he was able to put together small tours that would revolve around whatever single he had released.
"I had tried to DJ a bit but was pushed out of that," he said. "The formal rules of some of the genres that were around at the time dictated that if you weren't from the UK, you didn't exist. Being an outsider had some advantages, too, because I could put out my weird sounds and get American ears at times and Europe and Asia would be reactive."
Then, he got lucky and ended up on the front page of MySpace in 2005, back when MySpace had a front page. He got the kind of exposure that seems unattainable in today's world where the Internet overflows with information.
"I can look back and see how lucky I was to benefit from that confusion of technology," he says. "I got 50,000 listens a day for about five days. I had a million listens over the course of a week. I had all these impressions and new fans and people being made aware. Who knows what small percentage of people decided to listen or buy further but it was this huge exposure that isn't even possible today."
While his albums didn't sell by the truckloads after that happy accident, he did have a huge amount of creative freedom to pursue his various interests and in 2011 made what is commonly known as an artist album. Daedelus maintains that really wasn't what he was going after with Bespoke, an album that featured guest singers like Inara George and Bilal.
"I worked with a lot of rappers in the past," he says. "There's not that much difference [working with singers] in a lot of ways. I enjoy people's creativity and I give them as many tools to realize that. Bespoke was partially tongue-in-cheek to relate to the record title but I wanted to work with these vocalists that I really esteem and I feel like are coming from different directions. People like Milosh and Inara George can blend together through the lens of electronic music."
George, for example, sings on the soaring, classically-inspired "Penny Loafers." Her hushed vocals are perfectly suited to the woozy melodies and ricocheting, trip-hop-inspired break beats.
"It's great to be in a studio with someone who is as consummate a writer and performer as Inara George, who literally sat down for a few moments, meditated on the idea of the song and did it in one take," says Daedelus. "She sat in front of the mic and thought about it for a minute and did it impossibly perfect."
He wasn't, however, trying to produce an album of hits, which is often implied when an electronic musician makes an artist album.
Daedelus doesn't sing on the disc (though he sings in a side project with his wife) and doesn't sing during live performances, which tend to find him manipulating a laptop and a variety of sequencers while animated video plays on a large screen behind him.
"The laptop gives us a lot of freedom compared to fingers on strings, but I can't walk away from the audience. I gravitate toward equipment that allows me to be improvisational. If the audience wants to go up, we can go up. If they want to mellow out, we can mellow out. It's the freedom we're afforded in the world of electronics. I feel so grateful for that."
With his current "Magical Properties" tour, Daedelus aspires to embrace up-and-coming artists in the electronic dance music (EDM) world.
"I've done a couple of these shows and taken younger artists and meld it with an experience that I also think is a good format," he says. "You can go and listen to some really good music in a format in which it's supposed to be played, which is loud and bass-y. But we're not trying to kill you. It's important to see this as possible in smaller rooms. I like to keep it in capacity rooms that are less than 500 and curated for the night. We're going to be doing some experimental video work, too. As much as it's a night of audio, it's also about synesthesia."
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