If you needed an example of a cross-genre artist, who bridged the gap effortlessly between hip-hop and indie, DELS would be your man.
Fairly recently signed to Big Dada records, he’s worked with a myriad of indie elite, including Joe Goddard (he gets around, huh?), Micachu and Kwes, to produce his debut album ‘GOB’, which is out this very week.
We can also confirm, on the basis of this interview, that he’s also a lovely chap.
Hello Dels, how are you? What’ve you been up to today?
I’m very well thank you. Today, I have been working on a typographic poster for a pop up sweet shop / exhibition that I am curating to celebrate the launch of my debut album, ‘GOB’. I have also asked seven other illustrators / designers to design a limited edition poster based on a few quotes from the album. My poster was based on a line taken from the album opener ‘Hydronenburg’ - ‘I am the architect of my thoughts, where unicorns shit glitter welcome aboard.’
So, you’ve signed a three album deal with Big Dada. That’s quite a commitment?
Yeah it’s a big commitment but I am happy with the decision that I made to sign with Big Dada. They are the perfect home for my music and visual ideas. Big Dada is a great record label with such a rich musical heritage. I just want to push on now and move forward with my music. Can’t wait to see how the world will respond to my debut album.
Had you already started work on ‘GOB’ before signing with them?
Joe Goddard and I started working on the album together back in 2006. We were making music for the fun of making music. I didn’t think it would lead to a record deal. I mean I hoped it would but I just wanted to progress musically. I wasn’t worried about trying to get signed. I was just happy to have the opportunity to work with Joe Goddard and develop as writer. I had other dreams that I was pursuing at the time. Music was just another creative tool that I used to express my ideas and emotions daily. I met Kwes and Micachu around the same time and invited them to join in on the creative process of putting together my debut. I was always a big fan of their work and felt that they could contribute something unique because of their musical backgrounds and their approach to making sounds.
How have all the people you’ve worked with - Joe, Kwes, Micachu and the like - helped you to develop your music?
They have helped me develop because they aren’t afraid to take risks and were open to try some of the ideas that I wanted experiment with. They all have their own unique way of creating music and I feel so lucky to have had them produce my debut album. Micachu and Joe Goddard have both been playing live shows for years now so I guess they have both influenced me in the way that I present my music live too. After listening to their advice, I try not to be too precious with the way we structure our songs when we play live. There is no point in trying to perfectly recreate how the songs sound on the album.
What’s the best tip you’ve picked up from them?
Make music the way I want to make music. No compromising.
You seem to be doing a very good job of bridging the hip-hop / indie divide. Do you make a conscious effort to stop yourself from being pigeon-holed?
Being pigeon-holed would be the worst thing for me as an artist. I am temperamental. I get bored easily and I am planning to experiment further with my second and third album. It just so happens that the producers I have been working with make beats that are pretty much unclassifiable at times. I think it was important for me to show people that I didn’t want to be placed in box with ‘GOB’. I wanted to make an album that I wanted to listen to.
Is ‘Gob’ a varied album, do you think?
It’s varied in terms of sound yes, but it somehow all feels cohesive in the way that it all fits together. I was conscious about limiting the amount of producers that could contribute to this album because I didn’t want it to become too fragmented. Conceptually, it’s quite varied in all the different types of ideas and issues that I deal with lyrically. Those ideas and issues all work together too because of the way that I present them on each song. There’s a theme that runs throughout the album where I explore the space between fantasy and reality, which in turn gave me the space and freedom to do as I please.
How much of the aesthetics around the release have you masterminded yourself? The pop-up shop you’ve curated sounds amazing. Was the sweets theme inspired by the ‘gob stopper’ album art?
I work closely with Us Design Studio on all aspects of how this project is presented visually to the world. I studied with both Luke Taylor and Christopher Barrett of Us at Kingston University for three years so I feel comfortable working with them on a regular basis. After deciding to call my album ‘GOB’ I was thinking about how I could represent that word visually without being too literal eg. a picture of a mouth wide open. I thought it would be interesting to represent the word GOB using a gobstopper. This then led to myself and Us discussing various ways that we could create a gobstopper ourselves and we decided to create one using various types of metals. Each of the coloured rings that you see on the album cover represents a different track on the album. The thickness of each ring is in correspondence to the length of each track, so the gobstopper itself acts as a visual timeline for the whole album.
Ever since I decided to call my album ‘GOB’ I knew that I wanted to put together a pop-up sweet shop to promote the album. For design consistency, I wanted to link it to the album artwork. I felt the GOB SHOP (the pop-up sweet shop) could be a good platform to bring together an array of artists that I met during the creation of ‘GOB’ to celebrate the release. I also really want my ‘instrument’ on stage to be a visual. In the near future, I envisage that I would almost take upon the role of VJ and play visuals in time with the sounds, so that my live show essentially becomes an auditory and visual experience.
Finally, tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
Did I tell you that I love Bakewell tarts?!
DELS’ debut album ‘GOB’ is out now via Big Dada. Read our review here.