Hi Steve, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks! I’m doing well.
Can you talk to us more about That’s Hot and what inspired it? Is there an inside joke in there somewhere on Paris Hilton, or are you just a fan of the catchphrase? How does the B-side tie into the story?
Believe it or not we had not considered that this is Paris Hilton’s catchphrase at all when this came up. Well, at least I hadn’t and no one else mentioned it. My friends and I often ramble something like “yeah that beat’s hot, yea yea yea” when a banging track plays at a party – this is probably where the idea stems from. Big J, oonagi and I were brainstorming vocal ideas and the concept of “ooo that’s hot / ugh that’s not / what about this?” then the “drop” seemed like a fun idea. The call and response aspect of it is playful and translates well in the club.
The B-side is really a totally separate and almost contrasting idea. For two track EPs I tend to save the B-side for something a bit deeper and weirder and I think “I Miss Your Face” follows suit.
Any plans to release a music video to accompany any of the EP’s tracks?
Not right now, but who knows…
How was the recording and writing process for That’s Hot and its two tracks. How did the collaboration with Uncle Kev and Oonagi come about?
They were done in two different sessions several months apart. The Uncle Kev & oonagi collab, “I Miss Your Face”, came about extremely quickly and unexpectedly. I was working on some mixdowns in my studio one Saturday and they popped by to hang for no more than two hours and we wrote that track somewhere in that timeframe. Sometimes they just write themselves and that was certainly the case for this one. We jammed for ten minutes or so then I hit record and arranged everything out.
How do you go when you are working others’ material into your own work (such as remixes, or in this case, sampling reality stars)? What’s your usual approach?
90% of the time the vocals are original recordings (including for That’s Hot – that is not a Paris Hilton sample). I do use some sample pack vocals from time to time, but prefer using originals. An exception to this is my tune Fried Or Fertilized, which samples Flynt Flossy’s vocal.
Being a visual artist yourself – how do you go on translating this into your musical work? Do you picture say a film or something when writing a song, serving as this soundtrack for this idea you have in your mind?
Honestly, I don’t usually have a visual image in my head when I’m making music. I usually hear some musical ideas in my head, try to recreate them, and end up making something totally different. I’ve found the key to writing good, cohesive music and actually finishing songs is being effective at managing happy accidents and knowing when to push forward with composing versus zooming in on a small idea or sound.
Any plans to hit the road next year, or are you feeling like you’ll be spending more time in the studio?
Both – I like building in breaks to my touring schedule so I can get some quality studio time in. Will certainly be making my rounds across North America during 2020.
You’re a developer at iZotope. How has working on that side of music affected your performance/production career? Does your highly technical background translate to better productions, in your opinion, or does it make things easier when you arrange music?
I’ve certainly learned a lot about production and audio engineering working at iZotope. There’s a plethora of audio knowledge floating around here – lots of incredibly smart people. I think having a technical background definitely helps when it comes to music production, particularly to the mixing and mastering side of things. On the flipside, being overly technical can throw a wrench in creative flow, so I try not to get too caught up on the technical side until I’m done composing a song.
As an artist who burst into the scene at swift pace thanks to the DIRTYBIRD support, how have you managed the quick climb with your life behind the scenes? What’s been the biggest lesson for you in finding balance?
I’ve taken things a lot slower than I could have on the touring side of things and I’m glad I did. If I toured constantly in 2019 and kept working, I would have been pretty burnt out at this point. That being said, I’m going to keep cranking out music and being selective with the shows I play. I’m in a slightly unique situation where I still work full time and tour and I do like the balance of doing both.
What else is happening next in Steve Darko’s world?
I have a new EP coming out in early December with Sacha Robotti on his label, Slothacid, a single coming out on Hotboi Records in early 2020 and a few more releases in the works. I’m hoping to get more involved in the festival circuit this summer and hit some cities I haven’t played yet. Looking forward to a big 2020!