Too often in electronic music, artists are lauded for their evasion of genre placement, or their ability to incorporate conventions that are allied to a wide range of musical styles. Camden-based producer Blue Daisy, a.k.a Kwesi Darko, provides a refreshing view of variety, describing his pure love of sound, and the act of filling empty sonic spaces with themes relating to his own experiences. It’s an exceedingly pleasant attitude to music as a whole, and one that hearkens back to the early days of electronic music, with fascinated pioneers from the 1950s and before exploring the vast possibilites of the new-found frontiers of sound, and the technology harnessed to that end.
Blue Daisy’s debut LP dropped last year on Ninja Tune (read the Inverted Audio article here), and with it came a broad palette of sounds experimental and familiar, all inimitably placed within a free-form structure both intuitive and unexpected. In the interview below, Kwesi Darko outlines his coming plans, and discusses his thoughts on music, creativity, and artists to look out for. Be sure to listen to/download his experimental mix too, featuring tracks from Flying Lotus, Bullion, Gonjasufi and many more.
For those who may not know you, could you introduce yourself, and tell us what you’ve been up to recently?
Hello people who may not know who I am, Ha!! I am Blue Daisy, I’m a music producer/artist from the great/grey city that is London town. My life at the moment is based around making music and making more music. Currently working on the new album for electronic group “Stateless”‘ (whose last album “Matilda” was released on ninja tune last year), and just produced a song on the new Foreign Beggars album which is due to drop sometime this year on the MausTrap imprint. What else am I up to? Nearly completed my 1st film score for a UK indie horror film called “Young, high and dead” and just putting ideas together for the next LP. I think i’ma be stopping gigging for a while from september to concentrate on making a new LP. Yeah got a few things lined up in the pipeline so i’ll just say wait and see.
You released an album to considerable interest and acclaim last year (The Sunday Gift LP, on Black Acre), how did you get involved with that label?
Black Acre and I connected on myspace about 3 years ago now, I was apparently on their shortlist of artist to pick up which was then encouraged by living DJ heroine Mary-Anne Hobbs after she played some of my material on her then Radio 1 experimental show, and things just come together nicely with me and the label, our relationship till this day has only grown stronger and i’m very happy with the works the label produce.
The tracks had a wonderfully ‘free’ feel to their composition, moving outside the constraints of more traditional electronic grids and matrices – can you say anything about your working method?
There’s not much to say really about my working methods other than, spirit, soul and emotions. I work on those three things many, those and my environmental situation. The “free” element that one experiences on “The Sunday Gift” is basically me allowing my musical spirit to roam.
You’ve made a justified effort to distance yourself from comparisons with Flying Lotus – are there any artists or scenes that you would openly ally yourself to?
Well I wouldn’t say i’ve made efforts to distant myself from comparison to Flying Lotus, what I would say is i’ve stuck to my guns and my way of making music and just constantly been developing myself as an artist. I am not an artist who boxes himself into one form, you can catch me in various frames of minds creatively, anything from rock to that dirty south crank madness, from pure soundscapes to total distorted sounds, you know, I am such a kid with sounds, i just love to play about and not care about what is produced as the end product. So no I can’t really ally myself with any artist or scene, thought all that said i’d love to work with some post metal bands/psyche rock bands, thats a plan i’ll have to make happen.
What about influences, within the scope of music and outside of it too – are there any specific people on your mind when you produce?
Only thing that is on my mind when creating is a zone of emptiness that needs to be filled with a theme. If I am going through dark times in my life i’ll use those experiences to draw a piece of art in my mind and sit myself in a world of fantasy with which there are no limits of reaching. I don’t have specific people in mind but I do create characters that will play roles in the music, something the listener can follow and understand with time.
As we noted in our review of your Sunday Gift LP, your name came about as a set of metaphors relating to a daisy you saw in a field, and what that connoted for you – how do you feel your physical environment influences your music or way of thinking?
In your day to day life a lot of things happen, a lot of situations occur before you, some more impacting than others and I feel, with me, each and every step in life is a new paragraph to a story being written. I take in a lot, i like to observe and look deeper than the surface of what the human eye allows you to see. Example – we Londoners, or Brits all around, complain about how miserable or grey our cities are, but who ever said someone’s misery can’t be converted into a journey of sound that would relate to others all around the world? I see the beauty when rain falls, I see sunshine at midnight, you know what i’m saying. So yeah my environmental surroundings define a lot in the way create as an artist and the way I am as an individual.
You’ve said that your music is for headphone listening – aside from being emphatically aimed away from the dancefloor, are you drawn to the idea of it being experienced individually?
For sure, we all see things differently in life, we are not all acquired to agree, enjoy or share the same experiences as one another. Different views will always be present and I feel like my music is that which should be taking in and thought about and whatever end it brings you to, is your personal experience and no else’s. It fills me with great joy when told how my music has helped some people create, revise and i’ve even been told by a guy he works out to my material at times. Ha!! But its a beautiful to know how people relate individually.
Having said that, when you perform live, what do you try to bring to the stage, and what kind of experience do you wish to give to the audience?
It really depends on what I am doing, if I am doing a live set then my aim is always to put the audience through a journey of sound, I like to play with the audience, see how far I can take them sometimes, it excites me when i do live cos sometimes I surprise myself trying new things on the spot, i like to call it organised confusion. I guess my live show is really something you’d have to experience to really get the grasp of what I do. DJ sets are more dancefloor friendly but they to also go down routes that some wouldn’t expect to hear in a typical DJ set.
How about your mix? Is it a reflection of what you attempt to bring to a live setting? Or is it, as you’ve described your productions, a reflection of “the environment I created around myself?”
The mix is definitely a reflection of “the environment I created around myself.” Expect the unexpected with my live setting.
Considering your interest in representing yourself, through your music, to the listener, have you felt that the public response has been what you expected? How do you feel about interpretation from music journalists?
You always get the hit and miss reviews from music journalists, but like I have said previously, one’s individual experience will surely differ so in my eyes I do feel a lot of the response I have got back is more than what I expected and I can’t be more happy that the understanding of my music is as wide as it is.
How long have you been DJing? Is there a relationship between the way you mix, and the way you produce?
I have only been DJing for about 5/6months i’d say, I’ve been mainly doing live shows when gigging but decided to pick up on the DJ side of things aswell just to keep my live sets a bit more exclusive and not giving too much away.
Aside from those you’ve showcased in your mix, are there any artists you’re listening to at the moment that you’d like to mention?
I’m very much on my hip-hop vibe at the moment to be honest. Listening to a lot of the “black hippy/TDE” camp(ab-soul, kendrick lamar, schoolboy q, jay rock), i’m all over Danny Brown like damn, infact that dude needs to get at me, I got some bruiser brigade for his ass haha. SpaceGhostPurp, Joey Badass, Progressive Era, Dom Kennedy. Yeah the list could go on and on. Yeah I feel like hip-hop has brought back some quality over the last few years and i’m very much drowning myself with it.
Are there any gigs or projects coming up that you’re excited about?
Well I got my collaborative EP with Unknown Shapes dropping very soon on Black Acre and currently just in talks about some tour dates so just keep your eyes on my twitter (bluedaisytwit) and on my Facebook fan page which is “bluedaisyofficial” and you’ll know all you need to know.
Lastly, any words of wisdom you’d like to share?
It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.