Experimental musicians Nicci Kasper (keyboardist, producer) and Deantoni Parks (drummer, producer) are changing the soundscape of drum & bass with their avant-garde approach to the genre via their collaboration, Dark Angels. Inspired by vintage media — music, film and art — the duo translate classics into modern, esoteric beats.
In between tour stops in Europe, Australia and Japan, Kasper and Parks take a break to share some insight into their musical vision, and provide you with a few tracks for your listening pleasure.
On the Origins of the Dark Angeles Name
A Name, is a word taken at pleasure to serve for a mark, which may raise in our mind a thought like to some thought we had before, and which being pronounced to others, may be to them a sign of what thought the speaker had before in his mind. – Thomas Hobbes, De Corpore, 1655
Take “Pourn Aurora” for example. You don’t know what it is but it definitely sounds sexy.
Waxing on the Fame Game
Growing up is hard enough without the pressure of the spotlight.
Everybody is a critic, but it’s important to remember that you are your own worst critic. Interpreting others is challenging enough, and it’s nearly impossible if you don’t completely understand your own complexity. This is why it’s necessary to remain independent, and maintain your ability to work with, learn and experience life with a diverse and balanced group of people.
A Creative Philosophy, the Space it Lives In, and its Offspring
Most people are inherently curious. As humans, we’re constantly questioning everything and exploring new opportunities to improve our lives. This is important, but it makes it difficult for an individual to maintain both balance and a unique identity.
In turn, residual homogenization challenges our individual perspective. Finding the balance is sometimes simply a matter of understanding that some truth exists in every action no matter how simple or painful that reality can be. Our minds and ears are open, but we don’t really keep up to date on current events or trends.
We typically turn to what most would consider to be vintage or classic T.V, film & music works, fine artists and graphic or fashion designers for inspiration. We believe that diversity and balance in influence is the key to creativity.
HOME: Location and proximity are mutually beneficial. Most people choose to live somewhere primarily because it’s close to something that makes them happy.
Unfortunately not all of us are able to choose where we live.
SUPERGROUP: We spent the better part of 2012 developing a new project with Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Teri Gender Bender from Le Butcherettes. We’ve been touring Europe and North America non-stop since the end of August. At one point, I believe we were at 40 shows in 42 days. We’re on a break now about to head out again to Australia, New Zealand and Japan to round out the year.
We recorded the debut album at Clouds Hill Recordings in Hamburg, Germany. Wish we could give you an exclusive preview, download or music video from the group (whose name is Bosnian Rainbows by the way), but at this point you will have to settle for live videos on YouTube or check us out on tour.
Home Away From Home: Venice Beach, CA
Los Angeles gets a bad rap. Home to both Hollywood and the Church of Scientology it’s an easy target. Things are different if you live there, it’s a lifestyle choice. We all make them. On the West Coast it begins and ends with managing ones expectations.
We spent a little under a year in Venice, writing and recording new music in between touring. If you don’t have a car there, it’s like being trapped on an island.
Really though, Venice Beach is like a near perfect nightmare that you can’t wait to escape. It’s one of those places that you both love & hate at the same time.
Projects on the Go
L.A. gives us the opportunity to both expand and solidify our family ties. One of the more talented composer/arrangers we’ve had the pleasure of working with is Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. We’ve created 8 audio compositions that embellish original recordings, interviews and vocal samples from The Beatles, and in turn, Miguel has recorded string arrangements on top of our songs.
The goal of the project is to create a once in lifetime audio + visual experience wherein Dark Angels acts as curator/production designer.
We’re big on experience design as it relates to the idea of creating an unforgettable environment, wherein Miguel will lead a string quartet inside an interactive performance space with an ensemble cast similar to something you may see at a theater.
Other than that project, we’re considering the release of a Dark Angels EP/LP, we’ve recently wrapped production on additional Icons Remixes. The 3 most recent tracks all have a slower tempo, we wanted to create something for the club that the ladies could bounce to. In addition to that, we recently did a remix for Gray, Basquiat’s noise rock band that is survived by Michael Holman and Nicholas Taylor. The live show is a truly unforgettable experience.
You can check out Vol. I of the Icons Remix Project here.
The Main Attraction
A Dark Angels live show is ultimately a live drum & synth bass performance. We will occasionally showcase guest musicians. However our instrumental and remix production catalog is so deep at this point that we’re also creating a separate and distinct audio & visual experience to accompany Dark Angels DJ sets. To us, it’s more appealing and stimulating to create something that can live outside of the standard music venue, which is why we’re excited by the thought of creating additional audio & visual experiences similar to The Walrus Never Dies.
It’s projects like these, that we hope will allow us to work with some of the amazing artists we’ve previously worked with like Bruno Levy, Rikki Kasso, Jakob Lebaron Dwight or Trevor Traynor in a new and unique way. They also provide the potential opportunity to work with people we have been trying to work with like Danny Sangra.
Share & Share Alike
One of our favorite musicians is Meshell N’degeocello. Deantoni has toured with Meshell for years, and she loves Nicci, as a result Meshell came to Dark Angels looking for musical direction for her most recent album, Weather. We provided her with some music (the “Hold to Light” EP), and in turn we received writing credits on 5 songs. Her album should most definitely be up for a 2013 Grammy Award. There’s one song on Hold to Light, Man of My Dreams, that Deantoni remixed for Meshell’s 2007 album that the label shelved. The song wanted to be heard. Below, that track, and more from our archives.