Summer Stars: Darkside
Our annual Summer Stars series features a variety of groups making the rounds on the festival circuit. Today we feature Darkside. We've also checked in with Washed Out and St. Paul & The Broken Bones .
"The meeting point from the very beginning of working together was improvising. That was kind of the basic common ground for me joining Nico‚Äôs band three years ago,‚ÄĚ Darkside‚Äôs Dave Harrington reminisces as he prepares to travel to Indio, Calif., for a performance at Coachella. ‚ÄúStorytelling and giving a full experience is really important, and those are the traditions that we‚Äôre interested in exploring when we play live.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúNico,‚ÄĚ better known as the solo performer Nicolas Jaar, and Harrington are set to bring their blissfully ambient brand of instrumentation to 38 festivals this summer, ranging from Chicago to Budapest and everywhere in between. As multi-instrumentalist Harrington explains, the global appeal of Darkside can be
traced back to Jaar. ‚ÄúNico has covered a lot of ground on his own and really built a foundation for this band before we even knew there was going to be this band. In a way, Darkside has been growing in tandem while that foundation and all of the hard work that Nico was putting in was laid.‚ÄĚ
Shortly after Jaar and Harrington got together in 2011, they released their debut, self-titled EP and played their first show to a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg. Much like the project as a whole, the debut arose organically. As Harrington recalls, ‚ÄúAfter the first summer of touring together, we made our first EP, just because we had an off day and we made a song. Then, we liked that one so we made another and said, ‚ÄėLet‚Äôs put out an EP.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
The splash, however, came two years later.
‚ÄúIt came about when ‚ÄėGet Lucky‚Äô hit and it was everywhere,‚ÄĚ Harrington says, reflecting on the band‚Äôs wildly popular remix of Daft Punk‚Äôs Random Access Memories. Under the pseudonym ‚ÄúDaftSide,‚ÄĚ Harrington and Jaar delivered their take on Daft Punk‚Äôs triumphant return through a newly created SoundCloud account. The overwhelmingly positive response to this ‚Äúexperiment‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒas Harrington calls it‚ÄĒshot Darkside into the stratosphere. ‚ÄúYou never know how people are going to react. You do what you love and throw it out into the world and hope for the best,‚ÄĚ Harrington explains.
One aspect that bolstered the success of Random Access Memories Memories was the healthy respect that the duo had for the album as it stood. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just the guitar!‚ÄĚ Harrington gushes. ‚ÄúFor me, it starts and ends with Nile Rodgers‚ÄĒhe is on a lot of that record. He‚Äôs a legend.‚ÄĚ
The Saturday Coachella schedule found Darkside sandwiched in between Pharrell Williams and Muse‚ÄĒtwo celebrated artists in their own right. Harrington remains unfazed by a situation that the band may very well be faced with numerous times this year: ‚ÄúWhether we‚Äôre playing a small show in a small club or we‚Äôre going up against a legend, we‚Äôre still going to give the best show we possibly can.‚ÄĚ
Darkside are now posed with the challenge of concentrating their extravagant live show into the world of time constraints and hard curfews. Their first full-length LP Psychic contains eight tracks that pale in comparison to their live counterparts. ‚ÄúTo us, fifty minutes is three songs,‚ÄĚ Harrington explains as he
describes the ongoing planning process for a Darkside festival set, where the band will play to immense crowds with varying degrees of knowledge in Darksideology.
Fans of the duo and their improvisational ways shouldn‚Äôt fret, however. As Harrington states, ‚ÄúOur M.O. is if we‚Äôre not improvising and we‚Äôre not taking risks and trying to do something that‚Äôs unique in the most literal sense of the word, then we‚Äôre phoning it in. And we don‚Äôt like to phone it in‚ÄĒwe don‚Äôt do that.‚ÄĚ