[PREMIERE & INTERVIEW]: Delac – Disrupt (Sebastian Davidson Remix)

London-based downtempo electronic duo Delac, James McAdam and Dooley, present a remix of their track ‘Disrupt’, to be released on the 15th of May 2020.

Delac was inspired by the likes of James Blake, Westerman and Bonobo, they have independently produced an eclectic discography and performed at numerous venues across London, including a sold out show at the Pickle Factory alongside Catching Flies.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

James McAdam:  I needed some kind of creative outlet. I was lucky enough to have parents who got me to start playing piano from a young age before I moved onto guitar and I later discovered my singing voice was alright so creating music seemed like the best use of creative time.

Dooley: It’s undeniable that my love for music comes from family influence. I come from a big Irish family of 5 kids and we all (including my parents) play some instrument. I moved to London from Ireland just over two years ago to immerse myself in the artistic culture and luckily I crossed paths with James along the way.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

James McAdam:  Usually the drum sounds come first to get the beat before we apply some pad sounds and bass. The vocal melody is usually one of the last layers to apply to the song. Lyrics are by far the most difficult aspect of the music making process for us.

Dooley: Sometimes we might have a specific idea we want to work towards. For instance, I might say something like “let’s make a tune like Park Hye Jin does” and James will know exactly what I mean. 

Does your material feature any collaborations?

James McAdam:  Our latest release is all about the reinterpretation of our biggest track to date, Disrupt, by two great electronic artists: Sebastian Davidson, who is a Dutch producer signed to Armin van Buuren’s label Armada, and Uncle Knows, an up-and-coming producer from Galway, Ireland. Whilst the original track is quite melancholic and downtempo, these two remixes are much more upbeat and danceable.

Dooley: Future releases will feature more collaborations too. We’ve been talking to both Seb and Mark (Uncle Knows) about doing more collabs in the future. We’ve also been chatting with Private Agenda and Loner Muaka about doing some collaborations too.

What’s on your current playlist?

Bit of a range on our Delac Selects playlist over on Spotify – Caribou, Bob Moses, Bullion, Yves Tumor, Catching Flies, Fela Kuti, Little Dragon to name a few.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

James McAdam:  We definitely prefer the late night weekend shows as opposed to midweek evening gigs. Everyone’s up for a big one on the weekend and we definitely feed off how the crowd are reacting to us. Our best gig was a Saturday at Thousand Island (now called the Grace) in Highbury last June. Dooley managed to persuade 20 of his mates from Ireland to come to London for the weekend so no chance of them having a quiet one. We adapted our set to cater for a club kind of vibe and once the Irish lads were stomping round, the whole venue was going for it!

Dooley: The energy of the crowd is everything. Without a crowd there’s no show. That show in Highbury was the best live show for me so far. Late night, high energy shows are what we are after. Our live setup is positioned on stage in a way that lets us engage with the crowd as much as possible while also keeping an eye on each other for queues.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

James McAdam:  I would say our sound has quite a mellow feel to it even though there is always a strong beat to the tracks. I think this mellowness comes from our usage of long drawn out pad sounds to create an ambient feel. We also record multiple layers of reverby vocals to add to that ambience.

Dooley: I think the most distinctive sounds in Delac right now are James’s voice and catchy drum beats. We try to keep the mix as analogue as possible because it’s easy to create a track from start to finish in Ableton without any live recorded material. Most of our tracks will feature some guitar or backing vocals or synth to fill out the frequency spectrum.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Dooley: Our studio is never the same. We will record music wherever we can. ‘Disrupt’ was recorded in James’s kitchen and we even used a wooden spoon to record a wood block drum hit! That said, we have been going to Last.fm studios every Tuesday religiously for the past year to practice and record.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

James McAdam: I guess I’ve always had that typical dream of playing at Glastonbury ever since I started playing guitar and writing songs when I was 10. Songs have always been a great way to escape and creating the music means you can choose your own destination to escape to. Once I learnt how to produce music using DAWs, like Garageband, Logic or Ableton, I could create far more complicated compositions and escape for much longer. 5 hours can pass very quickly once you get a song idea going in Ableton!

Dooley: The first time I played on stage in a school talent show. That was it, game over. There’s something unique about the nerves and the energy you get from being on stage.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Hopefully an audience!

Any emerging artists on your radar?

James McAdam:  We’ve got a gig lined up at Paper Dress Vintage in London in October with some great artists – Sansha and T. Evann. Definitely worth checking out on Spotify.

Dooley: London-based Loner Muaka is a producer and musician we’ve been watching for a while now. He was on tour with Bakar last year and has produced some really nice tracks. His SoundCloud is a good place to see what he’s about.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

James McAdam:  I’ve got this big history book open next to my music making space… I open the book at some random page hoping for lyric inspiration…

Dooley: The creativity typically comes as a sudden burst of inspiration. When it happens I have to sprint to the guitar or mic to record it down straight away. If I’m out and about and an idea comes (could be a drum beat in my head) I’ll whip out the phone and video record myself humming it and pray I can reconstruct it later. Consuming music throughout the day is where the best new ideas come from.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

James McAdam:  ABLETON. I started my production journey about 4 years ago using Apple’s Logic pro but once I discovered Ableton I never really went back to Logic. I find Ableton a bit easier to understand and I feel Logic is geared to someone a bit more technical than myself. For guitar stuff, we use a Fender Telecaster custom. For vox, we use an Audio Technica condenser mic or a SM57.

Dooley: The Roland Rubix 44 interface bridges the gap between the physical and the digital. All live recordings are recorded through that kit. The Ableton Push II has played a major part in our live shows. I think the secret weapon for our live shows is a USB power bank. As we add more components to our setup (drum pads, midi keyboards, Ableton Push, etc) we need a reliable USB hub to plumb everything into a laptop.

Any side projects you’re working on?

Dooley: We’re looking to start a music collective soon. We’ve done everything independently so far, from recording, to production, to marketing. We want to work more closely with like-minded artists to take the creativity and collaborations to the next level. Something akin to an independent label (although artists will be entirely self-serving). Sharing production skills and providing a support system for releases will be the primary goals.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

James McAdam: We do all the production work ourselves which has certainly led to a lot of mistakes but also learning opportunities. For our debut EP Blue Skies, we made the decision to get some of the tracks mastered by Matt Colton of Metropolis Studios, who’s worked with Caribou, James Blake and loads of other great artists, just so we could get that extra bit of quality.

Dooley: The biggest refinements we’ve made have been in our live set. We had too much gear, too many wires on stage, and didn’t pay enough attention to the mix. We play live instruments on top of an electronic backbone so we have a big mashup of analogue and digital components on stage. One of our first ever shows in London went completely tits up. Long story short we had an electronic failure and literally couldn’t figure out what went wrong. We had to play an unplugged show with two guitars plugged straight into the PA. We spent a couple of weeks in the studio before we managed to reproduce the hardware failure (it was an unbalanced grounding loop). Labelling every wire on stage has been a lifesaver, you wouldn’t believe! We also got rid of the guitar pedal entirely, except for the tuner. Little refinements like that have made our live show much cleaner and reliable from a hardware perspective.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

After the Disrupt (Remixes) release, we’ll be putting out a couple of singles over summer before our 2nd EP comes out in Autumn 2020. We have two headline shows lined up for the second half of the year too. One at the Galway Arts Festival in Ireland and another at Paper Dress Vintage in London this October.

Famous last words?

“Fly you fools”

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