Interview: Nicolas Jaar and Daniel Harrington, aka Darkside
The brooding, electronic-rock duo discuss their origins and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories
'How did we meet?’ ponders New Yorker Nicolas Jaar on his relationship with his partner on the Darkside, Dave Harrington. ‘We were set up on a blind date,’ he decides with a laugh. The truth is, they kind of were. Jaar, more famous for dense and beautiful compositions based around detailed electronic atmospherics with more than a tip of the hat to jazz styles, was put onto Harrington by mutual friend Will Epstein, now a sometime member of Jaar’s band whose own High Water project opens Darkside’s shows more often than not.
‘You accumulate a basic set of tendencies as a musician,’ says Harrington. ‘Nico speaks of improvisation, and for me I think that’s the fundamental tenet of playing music. I believe there are two kinds of musician, there are those who improvise and those who don’t. It’s maybe a romantic notion, but I think if you improvise you can make music with any other improviser. You can step into a room together and something will happen.’ That’s what happened with Harrington and Jaar, although they’re actually a blend of both types, releasing actual pre-written recordings (see last year’s debut album Psychic) and dragging their work into new realms on the live stage.
When they debuted their self-titled EP in 2011, the live gigs saw three tracks spun out to an hour’s set, and such is their creative force that they spent the week following the completion of Psychic reworking Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in their own brooding analogue style. ‘Call it excess energy or post-album folly,’ laughs Jaar, ‘I guess we just lost our minds there.’ Yet he’s enjoying this band a lot, and it seems to have supplanted his own solo career for the moment. ‘Improvisation is one of the great joys of being a musician,’ he says. ‘It’s like having a conversation and trying to get to a strand of truth. Most nights you can’t find it, but when you get there it’s tremendously exciting.’
Art School, Glasgow, Wed 26 Mar.