Amsterdam underground stalwart Darling talks about his latest album, producing with his daughter, and his love for gear ahead of his set at Safe Trippin’ with Young Marco.
Darling’s story starts in 2016 with his debut EP Jacob’s Lead on Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct, followed by JPS on Safe Trip. Now with his first album Tulipa Moves out, Darling shifts his productions into a different league. We caugh up with the producer whose kaleidoscopic productions can transport you to a dreamland in outer space.
You just released your first album Tulipa Moves on Safe Trip, which has got support from the likes of Andrew Weatherall. Its a great album, with warm, intricate, wavy synth lines, and punchy Chicago-esque drums. What’s the background to the album?
Tulipa Moves is my first album of Safe Trip. I started to recorded it a year and half ago in the summer. When I make music I take a set-up from the studio with drum machines and synths and just start with that. Sometimes it works out really well and you get a bunch of tracks that work together, which happened with this album. Other times I’ll make a bunch of tracks with a set-up and just end throwing them away, but luckily that didn’t happen this time.
Darling – The M Song feat. Lexi
One track on the album, ‘The M song’, is special. All the melodies and the baseline you hear are played by my 4 year-old daughter Lexi. It’s beautiful. It was lucky because she just randomly pressed some notes but it turned out pretty good.
I used a lot of Roland gear for this album: Jupiter 6, 101, D50 and 606 are in almost every track. And the album turned out quite spacey, maybe because I made it in the summer.
Darling – Tulipa Moves
I’ve read that your introduction to music was through your family, and that you got your first synth aged 15. Can you tell us a bit about this, who were your main influences, what you were listening to as a kid?
I was literally born in a studio! My grandfather, father, and brother were all sound designers or studio engineers, and my whole family is pretty musical. I was always around music studios too as a kid, but I was more interested learning to play the guitar. I stared playing when I was 8, and was listening to Jimmy Hendrix all day learning to play his music.
Then when I was 15 my grandfather, who was a new-age synth producer making dreamy, soundscape music, gave me some of his synthesisers. I played around with these for a bit, experimenting with weird sounds. Then I went to a rave when I was 17 and hooked immediately on techno.
I also played in a few bands. When I was 12 I started playing in my first band, and played in punk, hardcore and metal bands up until I was 19. Then from the age of 21 to 26 I was really active in a hardcore band. But then as my career as a DJ began picking up, and I was playing on weekends so I had to stop that to focus on DJing.
Awanto 3 – Star Butchers (Darling Edit)
You’ve had over 100 releases under various monikers before. Can you tell us about these?
I’ve been making music since I was really young, and releasing since 2003 when my first EP came out. It’s 2019 now so that’s 16 years of releasing music! I made stuff under some different names, with different people, and covering different styles of dance music, so yes, it’s a lot.
Most of it was solo releases, but I’m still in an active group with a friend of mine. We’re releasing mostly 90s techno. I also ran a label around 2008/9. We did a few releases, then one of my projects started picking up, I was playing out a lot, and making lots of tracks in that style, but I quit that too haha. The project I’m still involved in is called Museum, we just released an EP on Indigo Area, and we did some stuff on Marcel Dettmann Recordings. It’s weird techno, and all live takes.
When I started producing it was very techno-focussed, then around 4/5 years ago it began to bother me that I didn’t have an outlet for my more creative stuff, that’s why I started to work under the name Darling, to make what I want. I played all over the world at good clubs, but it was music that I was really into in 2008/9. I had some big hits, with tracks that took off, but musically it wasn’t fulfilling. I forced myself into a corner a bit, with people expecting me to produce a certain sound. I felt I could be more creative, and when I met Marco & Christiann they helped me realise I can do whatever the fuck I want.
Darling – JPS Senior
Your latest mix for Red Light Radio is full of low-slung, down-tempo pieces. How do you go about approaching radio shows / podcasts in comparison to your club sets?
This was an interesting mix. It was an early slot, and I was the first one to play on that day, so was just playing early morning music. I like that, not really clubby music. It’s definitely different from what I’ll play on Friday.
What can we expect to hear from you on Friday?
It’s difficult when you don’t really know what to expect from a club or set. I know I’m playing after Marco, so in my head I’ll be thinking about things I could play, but you never know what could happen. I’ll probably play more up-temp dancefloor oriented stuff, a little bit weird, with some electro and acid thrown in.
Darling – Moon Fleet
Do you have any plans for 2019 you can share?
At the end of March I’ve got a mini-album with 6 tracks coming out on Off Minor. My daughter keeps passing by the studio while I’m working to play some stuff, so I decided to make a whole record with her.I’m really happy with the result. She’s like a random note generator.
Darling play on Friday 25 January at Safe Trippin’ with Young Marco, Max Abysmal, Jan Schulte & More. You can find tickets here.