Deadboy played a vital part in the U.K.'s vibrant underground dance music scene from 2009 onwards, with anthems like "U Cheated" and that remix of Drake's "Fireworks." He never stopped experimenting and evolving, however, with more recent projects on labels Crazylegs and Local Action bringing in elements of ambient music and heavily layered vocals.
Vocals have been a big part of Deadboy's music since the beginning, but up until now they've been chopped samples or heavily manipulated snippets. On his new album Earth Body, out May 19, Deadboy puts his own voice front and center for the first time with beautiful results. Inspired by era-spanning pop titans like Scott Walker, Sade, Drake and the Beach Boys, Deadboy goes heavy on the vocal harmonies, singing about loneliness, love, and everything in between.
Listen to "Tide" and read an interview with Deadboy below. Buy Earth Body, out tomorrow May 19 via Local Action, here.
Why did you move to Montreal and how has that impacted the creation and sound of this album?
It was mostly my girlfriend’s idea, but I'd been in London for a long time and it felt like time for a change. Montreal appealed because it's pretty cheap, easy to emigrate if you're British, and I'd always wanted to go to Canada. I think it enabled me to make this album by giving me a lot of space and disconnection from everything in my life to really focus on something. I'm not sure how it influenced the actual sound of the album because I think that's probably something unconscious that you're never aware of at the time.
Why did you feel like this was the time to make your own vocals so central to your music? Is it something you've been working towards for a long time?
I think I've always wanted to do something like this but finally got to the point where I was inspired enough to do it, and where I no longer really cared what people might think. There is an element of fear when you sing—it's an extremely vulnerable thing to do—but I feel I'm confident in myself enough to not give a fuck anymore.
Are there things you feel you can express with your vocals that were impossible making instrumental music? If so, what have you expressed on this album that you haven't in previous music?
Yeah I think the sound of voices singing in harmony is the most transcendental and supernatural sound there is. That's why you have choirs in church, you know. It's the last remains of magic in religion, and I wanted to try and achieve those moments, in some very small way, of transcendence, which I think is difficult to do with other instruments and sounds. It's something missing from a lot of music.
What's the significance of the title Earth Body?
It was originally going to be the title of the project, instead of Deadboy. There was going to be a whole series, Water Body, Light Body, Fire Body etc., so when it became a Deadboy record I used it as the title. Its just a nice phrase that connects to the planet and the element and the human body.
Tell us about "Tide" specifically, what your vision was for the song and how it fits in the album.
"Tide" was basically me trying to make a Rihanna song, it's pretty blatant, but one that would fit on the album with this super glowing chorus.
Does club music still excited and inspire you? Do you see yourself continuing to make dance music, or is ambient and pop more of a focus now.
Yeah absolutely. Since I finished the album I've been making and listening to more dance music than ever, mostly '90s stuff from house and garage to ragga and jungle and hardcore. I'm really enjoying digging for that stuff at the moment. So now I'm sitting on tons of club tracks that I'm gonna try and start releasing this year.