It’s a rainy Friday evening in Stoke when I interview Darwin Deez, real name Darwin Smith, in a packed out dressing room at The Sugarmill. I am surrounded by talented musicians, there are guitars everywhere, I nearly sit on one, partially due to the triple tequila and coke I had before hand.
Darwin and his band have been on the current NME Tour with headliners Hurts and Manc/cockney electro pop boys Everything Everything. He tells me that he’s having a great time and is enjoying being in Britain. He also tells me that the latter band is definitely his favourite on the tour as they’re “really sweet guys”.
We then move on to one of the things that one can only assume he gets asked about a lot: the hair! He tells me that his look is from “not washing it with shampoo, always just washing it with water and then letting it drip dry”. This then moves onto him talking about his ancestry, something which I found quite surprising. “The curls are because I’m half black, my dad’s black. That’s why I can dance”. And dance he can, as he later demonstrates onstage in between each song.
When I ask him about how he’s finding the UK he tells me that the reason that he likes it is because “people really seem to like my music here which is nice” and that despite today’s miserable weather, “the weather’s been good for all of the other dates, even up in Scotland it was nice.” He says that his music’s definitely been better accepted here than in America and that he’s very pleased about this as “a lot of time, thoughts and feelings went into the album.”
On the topic of the album, I ask him which song he enjoys performing most on the album, his reply being, perhaps the most obvious reply; ‘Radar Detector’. “I really like to see the crowd dancing and singing along to my lyrics so I’d have to say ‘Radar Detector’ because it’s the one that everybody knows and goes crazy to. Like, I really enjoy touring but New York is a good place to go back to afterwards”.
The conversation then shifts to Darwin’s personal music taste, a question which I have been pondering for a while now: what does Darwin Deez, an incredibly unique artist, actually listen to? “I don’t have an iPod. I don’t really actually listen to much that much. However, I did see Mystery Jets play at a festival the other day and now I’m in love with their song ‘Two Doors Down’, have you heard it?” Of course I have, but has he heard their new one, ‘Flash A Hungry Smile’? “Yes, I think I did, it was good. They were good live. They were nice guys as well”.
As we are talking, Jeremy from Everything Everything enters the dressing room and hands us bottles of cold beer and we talk of what a charming young man he is. Deez is definitely particularly fond of Everything Everything, I later witness him getting his groove on during their set. Darwin Deez dancing is certainly something that one must see at some point during their lifetime, it’s a visual phenomenon, who would have expected such moves to come from him? He tells me that his favourite artists at the moment are Mystery Jets , Everything Everything and Jai Paul.
I slip in the random question; goodness knows where it came from of ‘What’s your favourite drink?’. I wrongly expect him to name a bizarre alcoholic cocktail; instead Darwin introduces me to a healthy, mushroom based tea drink. “It’s called Kombucha, it absorbs sugar in the body, and it’s really good for you. I don’t think you can get it here yet which is a shame because you should try it”.
On the topic of his recent, newly inherited title that the press have donned him of ‘the Michael Jackson of indie rock’ he tells me that “it feels amazing, I really loved Michael Jackson. I think that people used to say some not very nice things about him towards the end of his life which I don’t think were very fair. I’m not denying that he had sleepovers with young boys but I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean sure, it’s weird but I don’t think he did anything untoward with those boys. They used to do that in Greece anyway, have you heard about that?” Um, no. “Old men used to be gay and sleep with young boys. If I wasn’t American and I was Greek I would have been gay and done that but I’m American, so I’m straight. I think that what they doing was more of an urgent expression than anything paedophilic. I believe that artists get the same kind of urgent rush, I do when I’m writing songs.”
We then wrap up the interview and make plans in go to some bars in town later where Darwin can whip out some of his formidable dance routines. The set itself was, of course, incredibly entertaining. Let’s just say that there was a dance routine to Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ half way through!
Darwin Deez’s debut self-titled album is out now and he releases latest single ‘Up In The Clouds’ on July 12th. He’s playing a million and one festivals this summer, including Latitude, Wireless, and T In The Park. You can stream all of Deez’s debut album below, thanks to Soundcloud.