It seems that 2018 is going to be a huge year of new artists and new releases, including the extremely well rounded offering from electronic-rock maestro Darko Richards. I sat down and got down and dirty about his debut album “Point of Departure“. Here’s what he had to say.
My first impressions are a strong base in electronic rock, with shades of synthwave and late 70’s and early 80’s inspired progressive rock. My initial feeling was Rush melded with Radiohead. What are your main influences?
It’s interesting you say Rush and Radiohead because those are two of my earliest and strongest influences or inspirations and it shows to some extent on Point of Departure. But I would then add a whole lot to that list. I grew up listening to everything from classic and progressive rock (Satriani perhaps being the strongest influence from that group to me personally), to what were at the time in the 90s the more modern and alternative bands like Radiohead, NIN, Tool, Muse, and simultaneously listening to many 80s synth acts like Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears, Oingo Boingo, and also the more goth and metal oriented groups like Sisters of Mercy or KMFDM. Would also have to add the trip hop influence from acts like Massive Attack and Portishead that I believe show in the album, particularly on the tracks with the singer Casandra Lark who also shares those influences. I realize that covers a whole lot of ground but that reflects my relationship to music which only seems to grow and grow over the years.
There is a definite cinematic style to the work, is this intentional? Are there underlying themes that you are exploring consciously or perhaps unconsciously that you can identify.
There certainly is a strong cinematic influence and that is something I am very conscious of. First, if the previous list of influences wasn’t enough, I also must add the work of Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and Cliff Martinez amongst many others. I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for composers who can bring a scene to life with music and in my own way I attempted to do that in every song on this album. But besides having those influences and listening to film scores daily, when I sit down to begin a composition I ask myself what scene of my own personal life am I scoring. Or what do the feelings I was experiencing at that particular moment, or for that situation or person sound like. In other words, it is a very self-involved and inward process, but one that I am very conscious of because it provides a great therapeutic and emotional release. I have found a personal freedom in creating these compositions I previously had not experienced. I think those variables combined with the fact that most of my work is instrumental results in a very cinematic product.
I know from your history that you are a very attuned to the idea of psychoanalysis, do you think this plays a big part in your music?
I use music as my own form of existential therapy. But I do not give it much conscious thought beyond that since that might defeat the purpose. The exception being Anima, where I tried to create a certain mood and atmosphere that I feel represents the Jungian archetype, or at least represents how I experience it in my own psyche. But for the other compositions I am trying to paint feelings and moods and letting those guide the way. The process perhaps resembles more meditation than psychoanalysis.
Tell me a little bit about your process in the studio, obviously you are a very talented guitarist, and that shines through your work, but what other skills do you bring to the table.
I think besides the years of being a guitar player in various bands, the act itself of composing dozens and hundreds of previous compositions is now a personal strength. I feel many musicians play instruments, cover songs, and even write riffs and melodies, but most do not actually complete the songs. I find it very natural now to sit down, look inward and feel what story I want to tell, and the chords, scales, and general structure of the piece then simply come to me. It has taken some years to get to this point but I feel very much in control on my compositions now.
Although self-taught, I do have a basic understanding of music theory and I do use it when composing. I have a mental storehouse now of chords and scales on the guitar and piano that I use to describe certain emotions. To be more specific in regards to Point of Departure, these songs were mostly started on the piano as I searched for chord progressions to lay a foundation. I then began to layer many sounds and effects, and the guitar I purposely left for last on most tracks. I had written many songs on the guitar in previous years and on this album I wanted the drums, keys, and synths to be at the heart of the compositions. I can always find a way to include guitars.
Being that this is your debut album, what can we expect from you in the future.
I view Point of Departure as only the beginning in a long musical journey for me. I plan to continue mixing my guitar/rock influences with the electronic and cinematic elements in the future. But in future albums expect more collaborations, and not just with singers but with other producers and musicians. I am also constantly searcashing for new tools and tricks to add to my arsenal and I expect every album I release to be better than the previous in terms of both composition and production value in general.
So, as far as my thoughts on the album, this is a deep and impressive piece of work. It’s not an album for dancing, or partying to, this work deserves to be savored like a good scotch or a cigar. The palette of sounds making up the tapestry of this album is something else. Each listen opens up new emotions and it weaves a web of complex spells on your mind. I urge you to get a copy and experience the majesty of Darko’s work. For a debut, it’s fantastic, and it points towards bigger and better things to come.