Dan Deacon will make you dance. Not just because you want to and the electro-pop’s got your feet moving, but because he’s asking you, as well as the whole audience, to do so.
Baltimore native Dan Deacon has created a name for himself by having some of the most exciting, audience participation-based shows around. He’s also branched off to include a different realm to his work, composing classical pieces that were premiered by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario, Canada, as well as scoring Francis Ford Coppola’s latest film, “Twixt.”
His latest album “America,” shows his music evolving and growing to include more simple techniques, acoustic instruments and introspective lyrics. He’s made his Carnegie Hall debut this year, is working a piece for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and made over 10,000 people dance at an Occupy Wall Street Rally in Union Square.
Go and see him at a hole-in the wall bar while you still can.
IN: Your live shows have always been very high energy, and involve a lot of audience participation. Have they always been like this since you started performing?
DD: The level of audience participation has certainly grown since the early days but I’ve always been interested in thinking of the audience as part of the performance, shifting the focus from stage to audience and trying to create situations or performance actions that could only be made with a crowd.
IN: How did it go over at first? What are some of your favorite things you have the audience involved in/asked them to do?
DD: At first it started as a dance contest with consolidated rules that grew into different actions. It’s hard to describe my favorites. The ones I am currently doing on this tour have been the most fun consistently.
IN: Is there anything you’d like to try with an audience that you haven’t done yet?
DD: I tend to try most of the ideas I get. If they stick, I keep doing them or refining them. If they don’t, I’ll rethink how they were presented and see if that was a factor.
IN: I heard some stories about a tour bus you traveled with a few years ago that ran on bio fuel. Tell me about it.
DD: We bought an old school bus, converted it to an RV and added a second fuel system so that it ran on waste cooking oil [veggie oil].
IN: Do you still use it?
DD: Yup. When I tour with the ensemble. Just finished a 10-week tour with it. I love it.
IN: Why did you decide to create that?
DD: It helps us not give so much money to the oil industry so that helps us sleep at night a little better.
IN: What are some memorable stories from the bus tour?
DD: What I remember the most right now is that is has no heat, no AC and no shocks. I’m just kidding. I mean it really doesn’t have those things but it’s still way better than anything else I’ve ever toured in. It’s a really cozy home, really love it a lot. But just so I don’t just cop-out, my favorite memories are the camping trips at the state/national parks that we’ve done it in. It’s perfect for that and totally makes a beautiful getaway time trap possible without anything other than what we already have.
IN: You recently scored a film for Francis Ford Coppola. What was it like to work with someone so legendary?
DD: It was surreal. He emailed me and asked to get together. We met up in Napa and talked for a few days about music, film and technology and that I guess led to him inviting me to work on the score. It was a great learning experience and totally insane in just about every possible way one could think of.
IN: Do you see yourself headed more into this kind of direction? Film/ classical?
DD: I’d like to do as much work in those areas as possible. But that’s not to say that I want to drift from the “pop” side of music.
IN: So many styles or genres of music have been expanded on in recent years. Where do you think the future of music is headed?
DD: I’m not sure. I’m worried that the Internet a la Wild West period is ended and that awesome genre defying sounds and super informed audiences will change with things, slowly changing the game and homogenizing music back into boxes.
IN: What are some of your favorite things about the DIY culture in America?
DD: The network and the community of people it creates with each generation.
IN: What’s next for you? Where would you like to go?
DD: I’m working on writing new material for the next album and several commissions [Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bang on a Can.]
WHERE: The Handlebar, 319 N. Tarragona St.
WHEN: 9 p.m. Wednesday, December 12