Baltimore's Dan Deacon has many interests. For almost a decade, he has produced some of the most uniquely entertaining indie electronic music around, a bright collage of layered effects, cartoon vocals and enormous hooks. He's also the founder of Wham City, an arts collective in his home base, and an integral member of the group's comedy troupe.
Blending absurdist laughs along the lines of Monty Python, but with psychedelic imagery, the videos they've thrown on the Internet are a splendidly weird source of entertainment. Lately, Deacon has turned to writing orchestral music, seeing his pieces performed in arts spaces across the country and signing on to score a film by Francis Ford Coppola. At Moogfest, Deacon will perform a solo set in addition to performing with Wham City Comedy.
Xpress: How do you feel about the attention Wham City Comedy has gotten in the last year?
Deacon: I look forward to the comedy tour all year. It's an awesome time for us as a group of friends and a collective. Now that we all don't live together and have busy schedules it's hard for us to really work as a unit often. This tour makes it possible for us to get that quality time together that all mothers of fathers want.
I am really happy the Wham City is starting to get known outside of the sphere of music. Theater and comedy have long been a cornerstone of the collective, and it's great that it's starting to get attention outside of Baltimore. Hopefully when our Web show launches in the near future, it'll change the game even more. But even if things shrank into the smallest of spotlights it's just fun to work with and perform with my friends. It's what I love most in the world.
I sense a substantial amount of bleed over between the whimsical spirit of your music and Wham City's outlandish comedy. Do you feel there's a connection between the two?
I try to put as much of myself in the music as possible without it just being songs about me looking in the mirror while combing my long flowing hair. There is 100 percent a connection. I don't put humor in my music, however. I also actively attempt to make it as non-esoteric as possible while not compromising the art. Does that make sense, besides the hair part?
Who are your biggest comic icons?
John Candy, The Kids in the Hall, Steve Martin, my grandfathers, my uncle Paul (sorry uncle George), Bill Murray, Ed Schrader. John Candy was totally my hero as a kid. I f—king love Uncle Buck, Harry Crumb and all those classic gems. Steve Martin's standup and early film work is just amazing. I also admire how he walked away from all of that and advanced his other artistic sides.
This year's fest offers a stacked slate of indie rockers in addition to the electronic talent. You've often been painted as a descendant of both of these worlds — how do you feel about serving as a link between these two sects?
If people want to cast me as the link drifting between both worlds that's great, but honestly, I don't really feel akin to either, especially now that I'm writing a lot more chamber and orchestral music. Whatever genre people want to associate me with is fine. I'm just happy people take the time to listen to my music.
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