Dirty Projectors: Clear Vision

By: Andrew Bruss

Dirty Projectors
For a group that's been touring and recording for the better part of the past decade, Dirty Projectors didn't break into the blogosphere hype machine until the second half of 2009. The release of their latest studio album, Bitte Orca (released June 9 on Domino), has earned them billing on an array of major festivals, an opening slot on tour with TV On The Radio, and the very public adoration of both David Byrne and Bjork.

Their lineup has changed drastically over the years, boasting more ex-members than they currently have on the road with them, but it seems as though things are finally settling into place for Dirty Projectors. They've been touring behind a steady lineup, making fans across the country, and it seems as though Bitte Orca is likely to find its way to many "Best Of '09" lists.

With all that's been going on in their world, JamBase caught up with Angel Deradoorian, keyboardist, guitarist, and backup vocalist for Dirty Projectors, to get a feel for the inner workings of the group and discuss the direction things are headed in.

JamBase: How did you get involved with the band?

Angel Deradoorian: [Dirty Projectors' founder and principle songwriter] Dave [Longstreth] invited me to be in the band when I moved to New York and I'd known Amber [Coffman, vocals/guitar] previous to that. Dave was looking for a new person so he invited me [to join the band].

So, as someone relatively new to the group, why do you think the latest album, Bitte Orca, has received so much more attention than the group's previous studio works?

We're working really hard. We toured really hard on [our reimagined cover of Black Flag's] Rise Above, to push that record and to get the word out and I think things are building up a bit more. But, Dave has been working really hard for a long time. Eventually, I think with hard work you get recognized, and the fact that we pushed the Rise Above stuff until people realized how motivated we all were it helped to get the word out on Bitte Orca.

Is it tough getting the tunes to transfer into the live setting?

Dirty Projectors by Greg Neate
For the new record it was tough. I switched my musical role a bit in the band and we had new people come in, so it was like starting over and learning a lot of new material with new people. Working out those parts together isn't always easy, but we did it. We got it.

What instruments are the new members playing?

So, there used to be four people in our band - me, Dave, Amber and Brian [Mcomber, drums] - and we brought in Nat [Baldwin, bass] and Haley [Dekle, vocals].

How did the group come to the conclusion that more members were needed?

We knew we needed new people because of the instrumentation on the new record. We needed help playing these songs live so they sounded similar to what we recorded.

I know Dave is the longest running member of the band. Is Dirty Projectors his group or is it a democracy?

It is Dave's group. It's been his project for a long time.

So, what kind of creative input do the other members have? Do other members in the group write songs or help with making set lists? Or is that all up to Dave?

Angel Deradoorian - Dirty Projectors
It's usually up to Dave. He writes the music, but we are part of the process because we're all in this together, making music and making our sounds.

Are you working on getting another album ready, or is the group focused on touring behind Bitte Orca?

We just released Bitte Orca in June so we're just touring and promoting it right now. We're getting it going, so it's going to be a while before we make another record, but we've always planned on making another record.

Are things stressed within the group? Is it more difficult being under the public lens now that things are picking up or are people psyched about the response? What's the affect like within Dirty Projectors?

It's a lot being on tour and doing press and balancing all of these things, and being tired and wanting to rest for a bit. We've been on tour for two months at this point, but we're excited about the feedback we're getting for the record and how supportive everyone has been.

How do you feel about doing press? Does it feel like a chore or do you enjoy it?

Doing press? That depends... it depends on where you're at. It isn't always fun to do when you're on tour because you're working so hard as it is. But nobody is anti-press. It's a good thing that helps the band.

David Byrne sat in with you guys at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. How did that come to be?

Dirty Projectors from last.fm
I'm not sure. I think Dave and David [Byrne] spoke about it before hand. It was Byrne's curate stage [that we were performing on], and he came around checking out the band. I didn't know until right before he came onstage [that he would be performing with us]. So, I was pretty surprised.

Did it throw you off? Or did it psych you up?

It was totally awesome. It didn't throw me off. Big festivals are a little intimidating but we're getting more used to it now, and we're playing larger audience capacity rooms.

When you think about the ideal Dirty Projectors performance, is it in a nightclub, a theater, a festival or an amphitheater?

Personally, I like playing smaller shows and slightly dingy venues [but] not like dingy bars. If you're playing where everyone is going to be psyched, and everyone in the room has the same feeling of excitement about what is going to happen, that helps. A lot of what makes a band great is the audience and their reaction.

So, if Bitte Orca went platinum overnight and you guys found yourselves playing arenas on a nightly basis, would you be stoked or would you consider that to be less than ideal for a performance?

I have no idea [laughs]. Sorry. If I had something to compare that to I would have something to tell you, but I have no idea. We played last night to about five thousand people at the Brooklyn Waterfront in Williamsburg.

If you were going to summarize the essence of Dirty Projectors, how would you summarize it?

That's a hard question to answer. We're just a really vocal oriented band. It's always really hard to answer that question. I'd like to pass on this one.

How about the fans? Do you appeal to a specific demographic?

Dirty Projectors from last.fm
Our audience has expanded as we've become more recognized, but usually it's a cool, diverse crowd at every show. I like that they go in that direction instead of one targeted demographic.

Do you think there's a genre you guys fall into?

Not particularly. I think we cover a pretty broad array of sounds, and I think people need to find things in your music that they can associate with one word. I'm not trying to sound pretentious or avoid answering this question, but it is difficult to describe it. I haven't really thought about what the music is. It could fit into many different genres I suppose.

Where do you want Dirty Projectors to be in a year? Do you expect things to keep up at this pace?

Things are becoming much more positive and our career is starting to bloom, so in a year? I think we're moving in an upward direction, so I'd like to be playing new songs and maybe playing some festivals in Europe or something like that.

As far as new songs, are you looking to write new material or is it understood that Dave exclusively writes new material?

Just Dave. I have my own project I write for, so I've never thought about writing for Dirty Projectors.

Ever think about opening for Dirty Projectors?

Nope [laughs]! That would be too hard.

As a solo recording artist with her own thing going on, what do you bring to the Dirty Projectors?

Every person in this band is very individualistic. We work well together, so I don't know if any of my style musically has much to do with what I bring to the band because I learn what Dave writes. Ultimately, everyone's personality goes into the band individually in its own way.

Dirty Projectors are on tour now; dates available here.

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[Published on: 9/10/09]

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