An Interview with Dave Harrington Group about new album "Become Alive"

We dive into discussing the Dave Harrington Group's new album and ask all the questions in this exclusive interview with Dave Harrington.
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We dive into discussing the Dave Harrington Group's new album and ask all the questions in this exclusive interview with Dave Harrington.

Gather round, a magical maestro by the name of Dave Harrington has got a group together. Not missing a beat as Darkside came to an indefinite end, Dave Harrington returns to his roots in the jazz world on his new album "Become Alive" with Dave Harrington Group. 

The debut album, being released on Nicolas Jaar's Other People, is an immersive and impressive work embracing Dave's improvised music roots that he harnessed at the Old Knitting Factory and Tonic in New York in the late 1990's and early 2000's. The album features a range of instrumental ensembles from as many as two to elaborate 11 pieces.  The group's ability to create dark atmospheres with foreboding moods is enrapturing. They also create awe-inspiring textures, making this an album to just take a moment, sit back and get lost in.

So, I've said my piece about this wonderful album helmed by a veritable multi-instrumental titan Dave Harrington. Now, let's check out what Dave has to say about in the interview below.

What's the easiest way to describe Dave Harrington Group?

I always like to start from, or more often than not, I like to start from improvisation then work my way towards an idea. Try to strike a balance between helming and guiding it myself whether that's live with musicians around me in the studio or at shows or whether that's kind of a more explicitly in a post production way. In a more electronic music with a more electronic approach to dealing with the materials. The spark is the presence of playing live in the moment and seeing what it can yield and then it kind of a balancing act between me trying to helm it and then also me trying to what the music is naturally trying to do on it's own and follow it. Not necessarily always lead it.

You have said before that you never really cared about recording, yet here you are. What has the path to working on studio recordings been?

I think I came up as a musician when I was in high school and then most of college as dominantly a jazz musician and then also being in rock bands and party bands and stuff. My musical life was always much more focused on playing live and then I kind of slowly worked my way around towards being involved in studios through being in my friend's projects. Once I started working with Nikko and we got serious about the studio at the same time I was also getting serious about working in the studio, experimenting with recording and kind of digging into that as an art. The looping around had been, I think, as I became more and more involved with the electronic music world. When I started doing gigs as a DJ and doing remixes and making my own edits that I can play in my DJ sets and things like that, that kind of thinking started to fold back into the way I was looking at my own music and how to record and how to deal with recorded material.

Your music is always deep and wonderfully emotive, where does this sound come from? Clearly from all that labor you're putting into it.

I'd like to think that it comes from that same kind of idea about for me, the best improvising comes from being as present in the moment as you possible can be. It's an easy thing to say and a much harder thing to do. I think that's when I'm really always trying to strive for in whatever I do.

Is the present the most inspirational thing for you? What would you say inspires you?

When I talk about the present I mean right now I'm sitting in my backyard watching the clouds move and that is very inspirational. I think also in terms of where the music comes from, I think that I'm inspired and influenced by a whole kind of history of musicians who have worked at the nexus of improvising and studio manipulation. Whether that's ECM Records where there are three guys listed on the sleeve but there are more than three things happening at any given time. You can't really tell who's doing what and what was done live and what was done over dubbed or whether that's contemporary producers who work in the explicitly electronic music realm.

Dave Harrington Group, is it a continuation of what you started with Darkside? Or is a completely new journey?

I would say that as a musician I'm always learning from the things that I'm doing and I don't think that this record would have come out. This record certainly would not have come out they way that it did had I not had the experiences that I had. I'd say it's on a continuum in so much as I was one half of Darkside and I am one part of this new project and I'm leading it. It's so me and it's the way that I've touched the guitar and the way that I think about structure is still in there somewhere. This is by no means a follow up to that Darkside record.

I think that what I'm working on now is like me trying to make sense of a long journey of interests and influences. That dates back to studying jazz and taking private lessons with people like Brad Jones and Kelvin Bell when I was in high school and going to Tonic in the early 2000's.