Of all the artists playing SFTOC, one of the acts that we at the festival are most excited to have playing is DEADBEAR. The work of one Nicholas Donovan, we first fell in love with his music through the incredible Wabi Sabi, taken from an EP of the same name put out through influential tastemaker label Art Is Hard. He’s won over the likes of Mary-Anne Hobbs, Eddy Temple-Morris, Jen Long and Simon Raymonde, and naturally when he asked us if we’d be interested in him creating a special mix ahead of the festival, we were overjoyed. We also couldn’t resist getting in a couple of questions ahead of his set at SFTOC, where he will be playing The Angel Centre for Tru Luv.
Listen to the mix and read the interview below.
Hi – for those who don’t know, could you give us a little bit of info about DEADBEAR and what you do?
Hi. So, I’m Nick Donovan aka DEADBEAR and I make weird dance music, or ‘electronica’, I suppose. I started DEADBEAR while I was doing my PhD in composition and coding software. It was really born out of getting into electronic music via being in a ‘laptop orchestra’. I suppose it’s not the traditional way into this kind of music but in making a lot of interactive software and contemporary art stuff it lead me to it from a different angle which was kind of interesting.
I make a lot of my own software for making music and the aim is to make music that is (this is hard to explain) both cold and emotional, kind of familiar but alien too. Films are a big influence – sorry, I’m not great at describing this kind of thing.
Which track would you recommend newcomers to your music should you start with and why?
Maybe check out my most recent remix. It’s for Dutch Uncles latest track ‘Upsilon’.
I try and make my remixes a little bit different to all my original work, in that they are usually more immediate and hooky, but they all have the same atmospheres and detail. Either that or Snow In Tokyo from my last EP – it recently featured on Sohn’s BBC Radio 1 residency show.
And how about this mix you’ve made for us – could you walk us through that?
Sure. The tracks are basically from a bunch of artists that have either been floating my boat for a while (like Qrion or Pastel Ghost) or that I’ve come across recently which have really connected with me (e.g. Royce Wood Jr.). The idea for the mix was to start it off with a kind of sensual, laid back feel which would become a little more upbeat and then sink into a more abstract, electroacoustic work – like in the final tracks. The last track is by an Italian artist I absolutely love called Obsil – his work is so full emotion, totally genius.
In terms of your set for the festival, what should we expect?
I’ve given a fair amount of consideration into my live set. Working out how to perform the kind of music I make is a challenge but I really happy with it now. Expect some old Wabi Sabi tracks, maybe a remix, but also a load of new stuff from the EP I’m going to drop soon which hasn’t been heard before. I’m really excited for it – especially as I’m playing alongside some great artists.
And do you have any particular memories of SFTOC? And who are you looking forward to seeing on the day?
I remember the first time I played about 4 years ago as part of another band on the Now Wave stage at Islington Mill. It was insane. Money played just after us and they were really picking up a lot of love. I love this festival as it’s got such a unique vibe and experience with all the venues. I’m exited to see D/R/U/G/S after I play and hopefully I can catch Gengahr.
SFTOC Tickets are available priced at £20 from Skiddle and in person from Piccadilly Records, and booking fee free from North Tea Power, Font Bars Manchester and the Kings Arms
Speelberg – Aubrey
Pastel Ghost – Clouds
Fort Romeau – Her Dream
Galantis – Runaway (U & I) (Qrion Bootleg Remix)
Oceaán – Need U / This Woman’s Work – Feat. Låpsley (Live at Maida Vale Studios)
Dutch Uncles – Upsilon (DEADBEAR Remix)
Partial Eclipse – /please/
Bass Sekolah – Lighthouse (Phon.o Remix)
Derek Piotr – Day Residue
Obsil – Snow Days At The End Of March