Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interview: DAAN

Posted by Bobby

photo: Jonny Heffernan
One of the most unique and entertaining acts to emerge from Chicago recently is DAAN, a three-man theatrical electro-pop group that has brought a massively energetic gay apocalypse to unsuspecting venues such as Town Hall, Mini Bar and Berlin. The show brings together elements of a sci-fi stage with synth-driven dance pop that makes the room seem like a lost musical sequence from "Blade Runner."

I recently interviewed founding members Dan Foley and Patrick Andrews about the project's inception, theatrical nature and where they're headed.

WCR: Of all the various acts I check out, DAAN is an act that really knocked my socks off. What was the inception of the project and how did the collaborators meet?

DAAN: The Puterbaugh Sisters encouraged Dan to start performing music he had been producing, live at their now defunct cabaret show “Razzle Dazzle Revolution.” Jesse (DAAN's third member) had the idea to ask Patrick to create dance moves to Dan’s mean beats, and they both attended Dan’s solo performance at Mary’s Attic. At the first meeting, Jesse was under the assumption he would just be directing the performances while Patrick had already created dance moves for all three boys. With just three hours before the first DAAN show, Jesse joined in and they set some choreography to a few numbers.

Influences? I hear LCD Soundsystem and some Bloc Party and tons of others.

All three of us come from varied music and theatrical backgrounds. Every rehearsal/meeting is a way for us to bring our different influences together. Figuring out how to make all of our separate strengths, weaknesses and interests into a whole is one of the most exciting parts of our collaboration. It doesn’t hurt that we are all self conscious, music loving horror fans who are constantly perplexed by the world of love and men. Ex-boyfriends make for great material.

NIN, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, MIA, The Knife, Fischerspooner, Peaches, The Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Tim Burton, David Copperfield, Hocus Pocus, Danny Elfman, Crystal Castles, Suspiria, Gottfried Helnwein, Etienne Decroux, Hedi Slimane, DV8 Physical Theatre, Nijinsky and the Ballet Russe, Dennis Cooper, Derek Jarman, our upcoming Stadium Shows, propaganda, fetish, sexual intercourse. These are some of our influences.

   All I Got by DAAN

Your live performance is high energy and hugely nuanced so that it becomes a real show. Are the music and the theatrics generated hand in hand or does one come first? Do the performances vary greatly from show to show, or are the specifically rehearsed?

Our shows are tailored to every venue and theme we're presented with and continue the bigger conversation within the band about what we do and why. Past performances have included a blood sacrifice on a stripper stage, back alley doctor experimentations gone wrong, robot fetish, a restoration cannibalism banquet, and a soot-covered freak show behind bars. Our theatrical backgrounds bring a dedication to getting shit done in rehearsal and making sure that the finished product is polished. We work really hard on our shows. Marrying theatrical polish with the messiness and improvisation of a rock show has been an exciting and challenging element to every one of our shows.

The reasons and immediacy of why we perform is what launches every concept meeting. Whether the music comes first and we wrap images or action around it, or we start from a sexual encounter or conversation with one of our boyfriends, our exes, or each other. It often depends on the day and how much coffee has been consumed, the cut of the underwear we are wearing, or whether one of us has fucked recently or not. We are constantly intrigued by the fact the three of us are drawn to each other and what we do. It isn’t clear, it is sometimes frustrating and often doesn’t pay well, but we keep showing up.

You describe the music on your Facebook page as Queer-Electro-Fuck. Does the overtly stated sexuality behind the music liberate you creatively? Is it ever limiting?

I think we get uncomfortable sometimes when posed with what we are trying to speak to with our sexuality on stage. We don’t meet and talk about how we can make our show as sexy as possible. It’s something that is on our minds. Sex. We are interested in sex just as much as we are interested in love, pain and transformation. Something that we often hear from audience members is how turned on they are after one of our shows. People being honest and open about sex is sexy and at first we were surprised by how much people responded to the sex in our shows. Now, we embrace that we create, encourage and inhabit a sex positive space when we perform. We judge the success of our shows on how many of us get laid after a performance. It’s only ever one of us. The one with a boyfriend. Dan Foley.

What can we look forward to in the future?

Creating a tour with other queer Chicago performance groups that we have come to know and respect.

DAAN. Live from an undisclosed bath house. Co-ed and naked. Towels optional.

Violently pursuing the spread and dominion of the gay agenda.


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