Deakin crafts tunes, and more, on his own
In certain circles, Animal Collective is a veritable god-like force, essentially unassailable critically for creating some of the most important experimental music of an entire generation.
Conversely, member Josh Dibb (aka Deakin, coming to the Brookdale Lodge on Tuesday, Sept. 28 with supporting act Price Rama), doesn’t have the kind of confidence you’d expect of a prophet. However, he does have at least one thing in common with Jesus Christ.
“Carpentry, I think, has been my other really big source of money and work, aside from music,” says Dibb, recalling his days as a set-builder for what he calls “off, off Broadway” productions in New York City. This was during a time after dropping out of Brandeis University in Massachusetts, a decision that clearly still weighs on him.
“I have really strong thoughts about education, and work, and life, and what we’re doing,” says Dibb, thoroughly questioning “the idea that we’re just supposed to finish high school and just slingshot ourselves into a career path somehow. Or go to a liberal arts school, spend a year dicking around, and by the time you’re a sophomore or junior, know what you want to be by the age of 19, 20.”
Appropriately, it was while taking a year off between high school and college that Dibb and Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) began Animal Collective in earnest—although the project wouldn’t be named until years later.
“Noah and I both took a year off at the same time, and Brian (Weitz) and Dave (Portner) were still in high school,” explains Dibb, reflecting on a friendship that goes back to graduating middle school together in a class of six students. “So Noah and I were working jobs, earning money, we bought some recording gear, and we were trying to jam as much as we could.”
And although Deakin is clearly best known under the Animal Collective halo, to newbie fans he’s also known as ‘the guy who didn’t record on Merriweather Post Pavilion,’ the group’s early 2009 release. Though he still won’t commit to any future plans with the group, he’s actually been very active with Animal Collective; recent collaborations include an installation at the Guggenheim in New York, and composing music for ODDSAC, an experimental film by Danny Perez. Deakin even opened five European shows for Panda Bear earlier this year.
“Playing music with those guys is something I’ve been doing since I was 13, 14 years old, it’s been kind of a life choice comparatively up until this point,” says Dibb. “I guess the way we’ve always treated everything we’ve ever done has always kind of been that we don’t really think about what the next project will be until we’re doing it, and we don’t really make plans about it until it’s happening.”
Thus far, the only recordings Dibb has officially released under the Deakin moniker are a set of remixes of Goldfrapp, Ratatat, and Phoenix songs. Though his original songs are still evolving, and will likely continue to do so over the course of a tour, Dibb does give a couple clues into his amorphous set.
“When I first started doing stuff, I really thought that I would be honing in on perfected song structures,” say Dibb. “And to some degree I suppose I am and I guess that’s still kind of my goal, but more and more it’s become sort of a matter of having a certain song world that I can move around in somewhat freely.”
Dibb, likewise, admits to a slow musical output. However, receiving an offer to play the Festival au Désert in Mali seems to have been something of a creative catalyst.
“I think that [the show in Mali] did sort of motivate me to push myself to do some things that I think—even though I’ve been working on music full-time—I do think I was avoiding one element of it, of pushing to complete things, or pushing myself to put things out there,” he reveals. “I think that I was feeling—and still am, really—incredibly shy about exposing what I’m working on musically to other people.”
Deakin plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, at the Brookdale Lodge, 11570 Hwy 9, Brookdale. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 338-1300 or go to folkyeah.com.