Conversation With Deradoorian

In keeping with my recent discussions with interesting people, I had the pleasure of chatting up Angel Deradoorian in McCarren Park, here in the epicenter of hip Brooklyn last week. Below is an excerpt for Huffington Post with the full interview to be published at a later date in a collection of "Conversations," which I'm assembling into book form. We cover esotericism, her new record and a particularly egregious "Would You Rather?" question among many other things. Enjoy...

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photo by Bennett Perez

MN: Did you grow up here?

AD: I grew up in Sacramento. My dad's from Providence and his parents are immigrants from Armenia.

MN: You used to live here in New York, right? Then recently went to back to California?

AD: I lived here for almost five years I think, and then I moved to Baltimore for a little bit, then LA. I've been living in L.A. for three years now.

AD: I like it here it's just that it's really hard to live here.

MN: Pffft! So true.

MN: OK cool, let's talk about some music. A Beautiful Woman, Komodo and the other one towards the end...

AD: the Eye

MN: Yes, that's the other one I was thinking of! There's some great harmonizing in it, I don't know if it has to do with your experience in Dirty Projectors, but I hear a lot of 1960s. I was wondering if you listen to a lot of that stuff because I have a lot of notes here. In my notes here -- I hear some Donovan, Beach Boys, the girls groups, the Jefferson Airplane, stuff like that. Is that stuff you are influenced by? The 1960s music.

AD: I think the production quality of some of that music. Yeah I listen to more stuff from the 70s, but I don't really listen to Donovan. I had a Donovan tape I really wore out. I was like he's great, and then I hated him. I think he's probably good. (laughs)

MN: I know what you mean, he got annoying to me.

AD: And you said the Beach Boys, I grew up listening to a lot of the Beach Boys, and definitely the Dirty Projectors had an impact on vocal harmonies and learning... I'd say more of those vocals come from the Bulgarian style singing, more dissonant, sometimes grating, choral clusters or whatever with that. Then something like Komodo, those harmonies on it are much more harmonious. I guess and I can probably relate those more to like the 60s -- what you're saying production-wise. I didn't really listen to much Jefferson Airplane. Who was the other band you were talking about?

MN: Um, the Ronettes, and the girl groups.

AD: Yeah, I didn't really think about it that way.

MN: It's a different era.

AD: Yeah, I really do love all that Phil Spector stuff, it sounds awesome, but I didn't really think about that.

Komodo was a really interesting one to me because, it felt... I don't really know where that song came from in a way.

MN: Did you study classical music as a kid, or is that something you came to later?

AD: I studied classical music. So I feel there are parts of classical music that come out very unconscious. Maybe I attribute that on Komodo a little bit.

When I was seven to 13, I took classical piano. Then I got really burned out on it, wanted to study jazz, but I just ended up playing in bands instead. Came back to piano a little bit later.

MN: Umm, I read that the recording sessions were in different places. What is that songwriting process for you? Do you sit in an office everyday? Or do you pick up fragments as you travel? How do you generally come up with songs?

AD: This one, I had a studio space, so I had all my stuff set up and I would just go into my own studio everyday and write. I don't write much when I travel. If I do, its just voice memos. But I really wanted to focus in a way that was very intentional and concentrated. I tried to be in the studio everyday for at least four hours. I wasn't in there every single day (laughs).

MN: I like the story of Nick Cave going in to his office and writing like a job. I try to do that. There's something very romantic about that.

AD: Also this was like the first full-length album I made. Beyond creating, it was about practice- discipline. Self discipline. You have to get over these giant hurdles of writing. The way I wrote before was all fragmented. These were written over greater lengths of time, so they weren't so focused like the way this was.

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MN: What made you wanna strike out on your own from Dirty Projectors?

AD: There just came a point where either I would have to do the next album cycle with Dirty Projectors, and that would be at least two years doing that, or me trying to pursue something on my own, because I've always had that in me to want to do that. So, we just decided I should take this time. Especially because I was right in my mid-twenties. Kind of like knowing I would have to restart a career. Knowing I was really going to have to focus on this. I think it would be harder now, maybe not.

MN: I don't think so, sooner the better. If you get stuck in a situation like that, it's harder to move the more solidified you are.

AD: We're in a very immediate turnover society now, so it's a very weird feeling to not be doing that or not really having to have that pressure of any label over me while I was doing it.

MN: That's cool. That actually, um, I didn't write that question out, but how did you get hooked up with Anticon?

AD: From Yoni Wolf from Why?. So I did a podcast interview with him, and I was talking about the record, and he told me to send it off to Anticon. We kind of lightly talked and then it faded out for a little bit, then Shaun [Koplow] came and was like, "What's up with your record?" So we ended up together. It was kind of unexpected. I wasn't sure they were going to be the ones, but they showed a lot of interest and passion, and that's why I wanted to work with them

MN: Then that's the right place to be. They are such a weird hip-hop label, but it works. Seems like it fits. Because they are not -- well, I don't know what they do now, but I know at one time I remember listening to Doseone and that was very particular.

AD: Yeah.

MN: I was looking at their Wikipedia page last night to catch up, and they are moving in a lot of different directions, the stuff they are releasing.

AD: I think its cool, to kind of open it up like that, and I'm actually the first woman they signed.

MN: Good, that's incredibly progressive.

AD: I was like, really? When they told me that (laughs). I was like OK.

MN: We started talking about this earlier, but maybe it was off the record. I hear California vibe throughout the record and you live there. Especially "The Expanding Flower Planet" and the last song on the record -- I can't recall what it is.

AD: It's called "Grow."

MN: Yeah. Do you hear California in that record or is it something I'm imagining.

AD: I don't feel it, but I can understand someone else feeling it. Again all these unconscious workings, so I was there for a lot of it. I didn't start this record in California. Maybe half the songs I didn't start there. Um, I imagine other worlds. Where they are. (laughs). I was thinking more mountainous regions or Middle Eastern regions. Some people think it sounds like desert music or California desert. I don't feel that, but I always think its cool when people get just whatever they get from it. Because it's interesting to hear how it processes for others. It's part of it now, now that you say it. (laughs).

MN: The relationship you have with a work of art, the relationship versus how other people relate to it, which is always going to be an interesting thing. I find this in my own work. I don't see things other people see. I kind of like that.

AD: Yeah.

MN: I understand you are doing a tour with Letitia Sadier of Stereolab. Was Stereolab an influence? How did this come about?

AD: Not really, Stereolab was a band I didn't understand when I first heard them. "Oh, this is too pop-oriented for me." Then in the past year, I started listening to these records again and thinking they are really good. I heard from her booking agent that she was coming here, and I got submitted for the tour, and I kept being like, "I'm the one who gets to go on the tour." [To] the booking agent I said, "I'm the one that get to open for her." It's right. And I got it. I kept telling Shaun, "Make sure they know I want to do this." There are just certain people, that when their name comes up an option to tour with you can feel it. Like a magical experience.

MN: This tour -- where you going with it? What are you doing? Where? How? How long?

AD: Its just in the United States. It's a pretty easygoing tour. Routing is really nice. It's about three weeks or so. My sister is in my band, so there's a live video maybe some people have seen of us performing together. Mostly going to be drum loops, synthesizer and bass. We are going to sing backups for Letitia as well and her band. I think it's from September 11 to October 4th.

MN: That's a shortie.

AD: That's about 3 weeks.

MN: Europe or here?

AD: Here in The States.

MN: How did it come about with your sister; you always done stuff with her?

AD : She's been in my band at times, and my brother has. I was just gonna do solo stuff, but wanted another singer, but when we started rehearsing, I needed someone to play drums. I needed something more full because to adapt these songs to one person is hard. We were able to create good versions of the songs together. So I kind of forced her to play drums.
(laughs). So she played bass in one incarnation of the band and my brother played drums, but right now I can only...

MN: The brother I just met?

AD: Yeah, he's an awesome drummer. So eventually I would like to expand the band, but this is working nicely.

MN: Did you grow up in a musical family?

AD Yeah. My dad's a saxophonist, my brother plays drums, and my sister played violin and saxophone growing up, and she switched over to dance. My mom is a visual artist, so there are all kinds of art happening in the house, but a lot of music.

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photo by Bennett Perez

MN: What kind of stuff you read?

AD: Right now I'm reading this book called, Access to Western Esotericism.

MN: wow.

AD: Something like that.

MN: Like Aleister Crowley type stuff?

AD: Not totally, but it does give basic info on hermeticism. All the different sects of esotericism. But its so esoteric that just reading where they lay down the basics, its still super confusing from this other time. To absorb that information is going to take me a while, but I've always been fascinated by metaphysical and otherworldly types of interests because I can't grasp my own on my own, so I know there is a whole theory dedicated to such in a way. Its confusion and magik to me. I really like Magik.

MN: (laughs) Oh yeah, I think I like aesthetics of it more than to actually do a ritual.

AD: Yeah.

MN: I think it's very beautiful in terms of its aesthetic appeal. I'm just too pragmatic. I do documentaries, so I deal in facts.

AD: I think the cool think of esotericism is that it is just a form of spirituality from what I've been reading, and it's not one that has to be tied to any sort of religion or any certain belief confined to ideals. So, you can just keep exploring and take what feels relevant to you, but I do love the symbolism that comes with it, the aesthetic that comes with it definitely. Just like these portal access worlds into other places where you can just look at something and be somewhere else. Ritual is very important to me too.f

MN: Oh-tell me about Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks? What's that?

AD: Slasher Flicks is me, Jeremy Hyman who was in Ponytail/plays in Boredoms, and Dan Deacon -- a pretty awesome drummer. Avey Tare is Dave Portner from Animal Collective. So it's Dave's project. We started this because Deerhunter asked Dave to play ATP (All Tomorrow's Parties); they were curating. He wanted to put a band together that would play these songs to make a fun show. He wrote these demos. Jeremy and I came in and filled out these parts. It was more collaborative than any other project I've been in. Having the basis of all the songs there to be able to add my own vibe to it. Same with Jeremy; it's a super psychedelic band. The record is crazy-sounding. A lot of effects, a lot of like crazy worlds. Very high energy.

MN: These side projects must be really fun right?

AD: For him? It's his side project.

MN: No -- for you...

AD:I mean, how do you feel about that?

MN: I mean, for me, this is a side project. I'm not a journalist. Anything that's not the films is a side project.

AD: It was of interest; there's something to learn from it. So I loved being able to improvise in that band. There were all these parts that are so hard to play. I'm always the multitasker in the band. But then there were these whole moments of freedom, so it was a nice juxtaposition to do that. So it opened my eyes to all the possibilities that you can present your music while in recordings, so it was really good to do that. Play with those guys. To me, it was a very harmonious dynamic between us that we were able to create together and get along well.

MN: OK, let's do a "Would you Rather" question. You ready?

AD: Yes!

MN: This is my new thing. I'm capping off all my interviews with "Would You Rather" questions. I've always done them for fun. Usually they are more horrific than this, but I'm keeping this one tame.

Would you rather: Wear a homeless dude's piss-smelling coat -- you know the winter coats bums wear all summer? Bum's pissy coat all summer with nothing on underneath. You can shower and stuff at home, but you got to wear it all the time, and that also means gigs. For the entire summer.

AD: OK.

MN: Or would you rather work for three years as a toll collector in Tennessee?

AD: OK -- definitely the coat!

MN: That's interesting, I thought you would definitely pick the toll collector, because option A. sound so horrific. Why did you pick the toll collector?

AD: I'd rather get it out of the way I guess. Three years sitting in a tollbooth. Sounds terrible.

MN: Ever since I was a kid, I thought toll collector looked like the worst.

AD: It is and it isn't. I could make that job fun, I've seen some people rocking out. Playing crazy music and having a great time.

MN: I'd have to do so many drugs to stop from being so bored.

AD: And every person coming up and handing you money. You just have to get the change right. If you didn't, you're kind of fucked and that's really funny. Piss coat is fine, I can handle that. It would definitely make for some interesting conversations and interactions. It was be a really interesting social experiment.

MN: The physical feeling?

AD: It would be disgusting.

MN: You would be showering at night, so that would be cool.

AD: Is it a one time piss?

MN: It's all summer.

AD: Is someone going to repeatedly piss on it? I kind of got to ask that question.

MN: Ask as many questions as you like.

AD: How many times did it get pissed on? (laughs).

MN: You don't know. It's indeterminate. I think no one knows.

AD: Whose piss is it?

MN: I saw a guy wearing one a few weeks ago and thought, "Wow, that would make a good would you rather question," and you happened to be the next person I spoke to.

AD: The coat sounds pretty gnarly.

MN: (laughs) I'm good. That was a good interview.

AD: (laughs).

MN: You good -- anything else I forgot?

AD: Yeah what's your sign?

MN: My sign? Aquarius.

AD: OK.