Los Angeles electronic musician Daedelus looks like steampunk personified, as though he popped out of a chimney covered in soot and retired to a laboratory where he'll either solve complex mathematical equations or invent something world-changing. "I've really embraced the whole tailcoat thing," he says with a laugh.
He actually owns ultra-rare handmade pieces such as top hats made of beaver fur and tailcoats so old they crumble onstage. And that's where the old meets the new on his latest album, a beautiful electronic-pop record all about the lost arts of the old world.
He took a long, funny path to become a staple of the LA beat scene. In the 1990s, Daedelus played surf rock in doughnut shops and bass in the house band at Largo on comedy nights. Years later, he became enamored with electronic music and eventually plucked up the courage to experiment. "How were people making these blips and bloops? I just had no idea how synthesizers or sequencers worked," he says. "There's something about the bass that you can hide in an ensemble, but with electronic music, it's very naked--your productions are pretty much there in front of people, and it's scary and terrifying and really an unknown process."
Daedelus learned to stop worrying and let his weird beats flow. "You see people who have these meteoric rises, and that ruins some people, but for other people, it allows them to become what they should," he explained.
He is now celebrating his 10-year recording anniversary with Bespoke, out now on Ninja Tune (which just celebrated its own 20th anniversary); embarked on a third Magical Properties tour; and, recently, performed on Day 2 of Coachella alongside such hyped acts as Animal Collective and Odd Future.
The album features some of the best and brightest of his very large network of talented friends, including the gorgeous airy vocals of the Bird and the Bee's Inara George on "Penny Loafers" and a reunion with rapper-turned-singer Busdriver on "What Can You Do?"
"I love having extra voices and instruments on deck because it means something to me to create--to have a synthesis of artistry," he says. "Those vocalists take me places I wouldn't go myself--places I'd be afraid to go myself. I find that to be very useful and a very positive thing."
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A decade of Daedelus experience translates into an incredibly sophisticated record that threads together an impressive range of human and processed vocals, gorgeous and strangely unidentifiable samples, and his own instruments into a tightly woven cloth of sounds--a new classic record in his colossal discography.
"If the electricity went out, though, my world would probably end," he admits. "I pretty much just worry about the apocalypse--the zombie apocalypse."
But he's well-prepared for the world's end. "Over time, I've been assembling a ragtag band of characters to wait it out," Daedelus says. "I have my wife, who, of course, is the key--if I can be with her, I think I'll be okay."
Daedelus plays at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.myspace.com/theglasshouse. Sat., 7 p.m. $15-$20. All ages.