MUSIC: DEATH IN VEGAS INTERVIEW (DON’T PANIC JANUARY 2012)
After a sabbatical of some seven years, Richard Fearless is back as Death in Vegas. Bringing with him a new album and a slew of tour dates, we talk about escapism, new challenges and going it alone.
It’s been seven years since your last release; why choose now to start up Death in Vegas again?
I’d been doing DiV since I was in art school, and it was a huge project – I really needed to do something different. I had another band called Black Acid, and had a load of other material, which I played to my live agent – he said, “Well… it’s Death In Vegas, isn’t it?” It didn’t really feel right doing DiV another way, so I said, “Right, I’m going to do the album!”
Has it been challenging restarting the project after such a long break?
Yeah. All of the pressure of redoing it really came from me; firstly, about doing the record on my own. I’m an ideas person, not an engineer. Secondly, I wanted to do vocals on my own. It was all down to me! As far as actually making the music goes, there was no worry – it’s like getting into a driving seat you’re really comfortable in.
Why fly solo this time ‘round? Why wasn’t [long-term collaborator] Tim Holmes involved?
DiV has always been my band, even though Tim was definitely part of it – and he would be the first to admit that. I’d been away for six years in the States, so I’d moved onto different things.
You design the artwork for each release, right? What was the inspiration behind the artwork for [new album] Trans-Love Energies?
The name originates from a commune that was set up in Michigan, near my studio, called Trans-Love Energies. I had this vision with the artwork – this desolate, apocalyptic world, where all there is are two people. The imagery is futuristic – kind of a form of escapism – and the name Trans-Love Energies starts to become about travelling forwards, the power of love and strong bonds with music… something spatial.
You mentioned escapism – is that an important theme in the record?
It’s an important theme in my life full stop.
In what way?
As a child, I travelled a lot because of my dad’s work. We went to some amazing parts of the world – Africa, the Middle East… In any situation I’m in, I find myself thinking about some other place; I was trying to go to a different place with this record.
How do you think your sound as DiV has developed since your last release?
I’ve been getting into production more with this record. Half the thing was taking out as much as I possibly could, stripping stuff back; if you can retain an emotion with the most minimal component in music, it has a different edge to it – it takes a certain confidence in your sound to do. That’s more apparent on this album than on any other.
What kind of crowds are you drawing at your live shows now? Is it still very much your original fanbase, or do you have a lot of new fans?
A lot of new fans, definitely. There are a lot of kids who heard us off the radio play we’ve been getting, like with ‘Your Loft My Acid’. It’s getting really strong support in Q and Mojo, but, on the other side, dance press like MixMag and DJ too. I often have my eyes shut playing shows anyway – blinded by the strobes!
As you were putting the record together, with the knowledge that your fanbase may have changed in mind, did you feel the pressure to try and appeal to different age groups?
Not at all. Never make a record thinking about fanbase – it’s a terrible thing to do, you’re going to start making the wrong records. I’m not saying I’ve got the keys to success, but with DiV’s five albums, they’ve all been true to my style.
You started up DiV in the early ‘90s – how do you feel about the way the UK dance scene has changed since then?
There’s some really exciting and interesting stuff; a lot of Dutch and German music, Matthew Dear… In all the different areas, from electro to dubstep to techno. you can find people doing fantastic stuff – but there’s also a load of crap, isn’t there? I went into a record shop yesterday for four hours, and only came out with four records.
With five DiV studio albums now under your belt, what’s next?
I’d like to do more tracks for film, and scoring. Production too, and there’s some visual projects going on as well. At the moment, all I can think about is the next record!
Interview: Charlotte McManus