South Londoner Daniel Woolhouse, AKA Deptford Goth, released his debut Life After Defo back in March of this year to widespread recognition. His emotive songwriting and minimal production place him in the school of James Blake, and while on a first listen this album may not stick as clearly, it’s the kind that grows on you; before you know it you’ll have a slew of memories to these songs. Now Daniel is heading to North America for a very brief affair, beginning tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge and Wednesday night at Glasslands. I had a chance to catch up with Daniel before his NYC appearances.
Kaiotic: Your music strikes me as mostly introspective, and you’ve even said yourself that it functions as a way for you to express and process your own emotions. How does a project so intimate and personal translate to a performance, to an audience?
Daniel: I found it difficult, initially to sit in front of an audience and play it. I think that’s to do with not having that barrier that recorded music affords you. But having an audience there while you’re singing these words can give things a new layer and personally that keeps things interesting and varied.
Kaiotic: What do you hope to achieve through your musical explorations for yourself?
Daniel: I’m just glad to be doing this and I’d like to keep doing it because I think it’s right for me. What is amazing for me, is holding a piece of vinyl, knowing my songs are on there. Anything after that is a bonus!
Kaiotic: What was it that inspired you to change your career and record an album?
Daniel: The situation just arose and I thought it was important to see if I could do it. It wasn’t really a career, I was thinking about training as a teacher but wasn’t sure.
Kaiotic: Were your kids sad to see you go?
Daniel: I got some cool cards and one boy gave me a bit of broken plastic he’d found on the floor.
Kaiotic: You’ve joked before about how your album isn’t bedroom, but living room. How has the ability to record at home enabled your career? What was your process like?
Daniel: I think it’s allowed me to do this, in privacy, and learn. A couple of years ago I would never have had the confidence to walk into a studio and start working. I didn’t really have a process, there was no routine. I’d spend most of the day writing and recording and then the next day discard parts and start over.
Kaiotic: There’s something incredibly touching about how you approach love and loss on this record. It will inevitably be the soundtrack to a million breakups, encouraging us instead to approach it as a transition and to move forward without losing reverence for the past. Is there a direct experience from which you’ve drawn your inspiration?
Daniel: It’s a cumulative process, you collect these battle scars and this is how I articulate that. I think it’s important to remember the past, good or bad. We aren’t linear, life doesn’t need to be chronological, it can be experiences radiating from the centre.
Kaiotic: Lyrically Union really struck a chord with me. I took it to be an approach to how love is always with us (whether left behind in heartbreak or not), and how when something is shared it is forever no matter what. Viewing love and relationships in this way is so refreshing, in an age when it seems to be all or nothing, or simply vapid. Am I off base here? Can you talk to me about Union?
Daniel: I think you’re spot on, see above ^ ! The song is about togetherness and isolation, thinking about those connections you make during your life as constants rather than blips along the way.
Kaiotic: How did your performance with the experimental Gospel Choir come about?
Daniel: It was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time, working with a choir, and those guys were perfect because they’re a really creative group, perfect to collaborate with.
Kaiotic: I’ve always been intrigued by the possibilities of taking ambient electronic music and translating it to a cappella or strings, something you’ve done beautifully. If you had no limitations, what would the perfect orchestration and space be for your live show?
Daniel: I recently performed at the Union Chapel in London, with 2 cellists, a violinist and also the choir for a few songs. That was great. So without limitations I would probably say a full orchestra and choir would be pretty good!
Kaiotic: How will your upcoming shows take place? Can we expect vocalists or other instrumental components?
Daniel: These shows will be performed solo, I’ll be singing and playing a couple of keyboards. I think that lends itself to a more intimate experience.