Unlikely Rising Dance Music Stars Darkside Never Play a Song the Same Way Twice
The fact that Darkside's Dave Harrington didn't spend his life crafting beats or sampling music in his parent's basement as a young child is a bit of a shocker, given the level of excellence he and Darkside's leader, Nicolas (Nico) Jarr have achieved in only a couple of years. What's more surprising, though, is that Harrington, who adds drums and guitars to Jaar's aural odyssey, waited until late in the game to dive into the music he now helps make as one of the biggest critical successes of the past six months.
"In a way, Nico is really responsible for turning me on to dance music," says Harrington from New Mexico earlier this week. "I had dabbled in electronic music, but before I was called to audition for his touring band, that wasn't a focus of mine. Nico really changed the way I make music."
Perhaps it's the combination of Jaar's long-employed expertise and Harrington's set of fresh ears that have led many to suggest that Darkside tends to break the so-called rules of dance music, or at the very least test the boundaries. Harrington understands why people say that. Darkside isn't exactly trying to make one lose their bodyweight in sweat, as they can expertly lower a tracks BPMs to levels where the tune takes on a form other than what might normally reside in house music.
Growing up in New York, where his family still lives, Harrington left for Brown University for college, where he met Jaar (He graduated in 2008). At that time, he had been into Jazz and even Metal, but after joining Jaar's crew, recording music became a new musical love that transcended styles and labels.
Darkside's latest album, the mind-bending Psychic (which garnered a coveted Best New Music nod from Pitchfork is best enjoyed when one slaps on a set of bulky headphones, where it can cancel out all other auditory distractions. Crappy computer speakers do not do the album justice. Harrington's previous musical tastes and Jaar's knack for successful experimentation are apparent when jazz-like flurries slink under the beat-trodden surface of a tune such as "Paper Trails."
"Nico and I have really eclectic tastes that transcend genre and time-period," Harrington says. "For us to make an electronic album that sounds current is a happy accident for us. There's not a lot of calculation involved."
It's easy to see how some will feel the album has a futuristic new wave vibe, or even a retro, psychedelic feel. In fact, a German reporter told the duo recently, that the record reminded him of Coldplay. Maybe the German has it all wrong, maybe he doesn't, but the eight songs from the album create a colorful space for them to find their own meaning and feeling.