When you’re born into a world where your parents are disciples to an ‘out there’ Indian Mystic, Meher Baba, you’re half African American but completely white in skin tone and have Jerry curls that are more reflective of being Jewish than that of mixed race ancestry; ending up in showbiz seems inevitable. But thank Meher Baba that Darwin Deez did. It would be a dull world indeed without him and his music.
Borrowing his last name ‘Deez’ from his bass player Michelle Dorrance, Darwin (aka Darwin Smith) is a beautiful contradiction to the current electronic trend of today’s music industry. One such treat is his self-made mash-up album of hip-hop and samples from the movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, titled Wonky Beats. “I did most of it on tour. I was just looking for a little fun project, something to get the creative juices flowing again. I don’t know where I got the idea from but I remembered a Lil Wayne song which I had already sampled,” Deez explains proudly. While he laments his inability to record anything with a guitar on tour due to being confined to his laptop, his next mix tape project is another matter. “I came up with the idea of making another mix tape focused on Paula Abdul songs exclusively from her album Forever Your Girl.”
As an artist, Darwin is very much at home with the unconventional, greatly reflected through his freeform vocals, modern lyrics and quirky melodies. A perfect example of this is his modern-day love song Radar Detector. Speaking about the film clip, “Radar Detector was made with a lot of help from the director. I’d had ideas about the video and it was better that they were rejected (though it was frustrating at the time) as the video was a success and that’s all that matters,” he tells. Where other artists have failed, Darwin has succeeded in maintaining the synchronicity of his style within the clips (even with minimal creative input) via his insightful self-branding. “I kind of like pick out some trends from six years ago, like my moustache and my headband, and they’ve stuck,” he notes.
Returning to Australia for Groovin’ the Moo Festival, Darwin’s fans are not just limited to ticket holders. Fellow touring artist AC Slater, whom Deez previously toured with as part of Parklife in 2010, credited Darwin’s live show as being the best live show of 2010. “His set is just pure fun” says Slater. In return, Darwin himself was caught enjoying some dubstep during AC’s Melbourne set. “I got really into techno at Parklife. That was fun.” When asked if he would allow AC to recruit him into a new “Rat Pack” during Groovin’ the Moo (AC creating ‘Team Trouble’ while on the Parklife tour, read out AC Slater interview for more) Darwin replies, “Maybe we can take the friendship to the next level. I think we could make that happen.” This fan certainly hopes so.
Michelle Sawyer, March 2011
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