I’ve digitally known Darko the Super for a couple years now and he’s one of my favorite people creating music. But I have to admit some of his music is so over my head that I always felt I missed a lot of the content and the message in his music. That got me thinking, why don’t I just have the artist create liner notes for their music. This series was originally going to be called “Liner Notes” but apparently Pitchfork already has that title. So this is the first edition of “Behind the Music” where artists take us behind the scenes and let us into the process and emotions of making music. This is Darko the Super bringing us behind the creative process of his latest record “Watered Down Demon Fuzz”.Watered Down Demon Fuzz
“Watered Down Demon Fuzz” is something I read in the cd insert of Beck’s “Mellow Gold”, one of my all time favorite albums. The title track is my ode of sorts to the legendary Daniel Johnston. The song starts with my rendition of “Devil Town”, then leads into my signature bogus poetry over a beat sampling “Some Things Last a Long Time”. It ends with a sample from “Held the Hand”, where Daniel bangs on the piano over a drum break from Ty Segall’s “Pan.” I wrote the lyrics one night after listening to as many Daniel Johnston albums as I could. I was very inspired and this is what it brought out of me. “No mail today, Grandma Death” is a reference to Donnie Darko, which sets up my disappointment throughout the final lyrics. “I use this soundscape to escape / I thought I found man, I found ape / I found a gun in my hand aimed at God, saying give me what you got / It’s not a lot, it wasn’t much, it wasn’t enough.” Simply meaning, I want more out of life.
Let’s Hunt & Kill
“Let’s Hunt & Kill” is a reference to the beautiful genius, Bill Hicks, and his imaginary TV show. The track samples Mac Demarco’s “Salad Days.” My therapist says the worst person to ask about art is the person who created it. Maybe that’s true cos I’m not too sure what the lyrics mean. I’m sure I wrote about unrequited love, but I believe it should be left up to your interpretation.
Hip Hop DX Bad, Darko Good
One night I noticed Hip Hop DX were accepting submissions and reviewing them on Facebook live, so I sent over my song “The Day I Beat Yao Ming.” Well that didn’t go over too well. To summarize they cut it early, told me it was bullshit, said it was novelty rap, and that I’m not ready. In response I wrote the scathing “Hip Hop DX Bad, Darko Good”, which references the punk band, The Vandals’ “Hitler Bad, Vandal’s Good.” I ain’t here to make believers out of chumps, so in conclusion I’d like to leave you with this line: “Darko bout to blow up and get a Mill’ a check / And make sure in hell the devil dances with your silhouette / I got my name from Richard Kelly, not the Pistons / Say it to my face when I’m on tour in Detroit, Michigan.” That’s the pineapple going up your asses, Marcel and Trent.
I wrote this song while on the “It’s All Down South From Here Tour” with my best rap buddies, ialive and Torito. Basically trying to impress them while driving between shows. I made the beat after a night of listening to Shabazz Palaces, a big inspiration behind the production on this album. The track samples Styx “Come Sail Away” and some Bob Bucko Jr. tracks, another big part of this album. The track is about dealing with amateurs and posers while on the road in other cities. It can be very discouraging being on the same bill with these bozos. Infuriating even.
The token interlude. I made this because I wanted to listen to Daniel Johnston yell “Satan!” over and over. And I believe that idea paid off. The track also samples Tom Waits, and a very sped up, high pitched version of the same Bill Hicks bit I use on “Let’s Hunt & Kill.” I figured it’d be refreshing to hear Bill thank every religious and spiritual being he could think of to finish out the track.
Marketing & Advertising
This track came together by me sampling a record from my label mate’s Binary Marketing Show. For lack of a better title, I named the beat “Marketing” and sent it out to some friends along with a few others from that time. Cody Cody Jones was the first to get back to me and he happened to rhyme about being the manager of an amish pop duo. From there, I sorta stuck with that theme, added my first verse and sent it out to ialive and Torito. What followed was a posse cut like no other. The song ends with Bill Hicks’ classic routine on marketing and advertising, one of my favorites. I let it play out over a loop of Tom Waits’ “Midnight Lullaby”, and called it a day. Look out for the remix featuring Lil Wayne.
I made the beat sampling “Im Yr Dog” by Richie Woods, a track I found after falling into Youtube’s rabbit hole. There’s a page full of lo-fi underground garage rock that I stumbled upon to find a few samples for the album. I jot a lot of terms down in my notes, that I either thought of or read about, “Lo-Fi Princess” was one of them. What it turned into was possibly my favorite love song I’ve ever written. A bogus and goofy trip down lover’s lane.
The Learning Channel
This track is unapologetically Darko. Introspective rhymes and bizarre imagery. I stole the drums from the greatest producer ever, more specifically, J Dilla’s “Fuck The Police.” Then I played a bunch of different synths over it. There’s also a Bob Bucko Jr. sample in there somewhere. I also made my favorite music video to this song. Not to give anything away, but I transform into a beautiful butterfly.
Falling into You
My lovely girlfriend is a music theater major in Manhattan and one night she showed me the song “Falling into You” from the musical, The Bridges of Madison County. I knew I had to sample and make a beautiful love song out of it, so that’s exactly what I did. To make it more complete, I sampled a bunch of BBJr tracks. This is one of the more meaningful songs on the album. I really gave it my all, and poured my soul into this track.
The SP-404 Has Been Drinking
One day, while driving with my mom, Tom Waits’ “The Piano Has Been Drinking” came on WXPN. I loved it but my mom didn’t like it as much, which inspired the first line of “Cow Tipping” on “Return to the Hell Hole Store” with ialive. I looked up the song again much later and came up with the idea to do a present day hip hop version of the song. Playing shows like the ones I’ve done, you develop a distaste for it at times. So I understood where Tom was coming from. Tom Waits also plays the character Dr. Heller from Mystery Men, which is where I get my producer alias from. So me getting into his music during making this album, it felt as if things were coming full circle in a way. Though I didn’t make the beat for this, that was all ialive, which is why it’s so good.
The Earth Isn’t Fucking Flat
Another unapologetically Darko song, this time inspired by a Neil Degrasse Tyson appearance on the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. He obliterates flat earth’er B.O.B. into obscurity. This song is written in the perspective of an unpopular prophet. “Ooh baby, can’t you see? The world is round but they don’t believe me.” To me, I’m stating the obvious yet I constantly have to prove myself. “A&R’s get cigarillos and TV guides, indie rappers get tormented souls and stay unsigned.” The second verse is all about trying to get people to give you a chance, which is hard to do in any aspect of life. “I’m still trying to get my script to Tim Burton / I ain’t got no job, but I’m still working / Maybe if Mark Mothersbaugh would listen to my album, we could upgrade the Acura and stop free styling / If only David Byrne would accept my calls, I could move on and forget about it all / No more flashbacks to eating my lunch in the stall / Uncrustables, Hawaiian Punch and all / In my hometown, I ain’t got no draw / Like MyGrane McNastee switch it up southpaw / Back in High School, used to wear South Pole / Promoter asking me shit that I don’t know.” Probably my favorite verse on the album.
This is a song about being trapped in your own skin, in a world seemingly unwelcoming. A song about a suicide chump, stuck having to taste his golden tears. Someone who loves their self, yet feels unwanted and unfit. The track itself samples BBJr and even a small “Wake up” from System of a Down’s “Chop Suey!”
I Don’t Wanna Be
I wrote this song after watching the documentary “The Devil and Daniel Johnston.” It’s sorta my take on religion, faith, and sacrifice. With references to Pink Floyd, Midnight Meet Train, 12 Monkeys, MTV, Frank Zappa, and overdosing on acid. On the surface there’s a lot going on, but beyond that, not much.
When I was little, a boy in my neighborhood drowned and froze to death one winter after trying to ice skate on the lake by my house. I remember how terrible my parents felt for his family. Though I didn’t know him very well, it was the first tragedy I ever experienced. It’s something I still think about at times and I wanted to put it in a song. So I wrote about how far I’ve come since those years and what I could’ve missed if that was me and not Jonny. This is my favorite song on the album. Day Tripper or DT, of the psychedelic rap heroes, The Difference Machine, made the beat for this song.
Let’s Get ialive (Doc Heller’s Bucko Banzai Remix)
ialive asked me if I’d like to remix something from his masterpiece, “The Jelly.” An EP created to be performed live. He sent me the vocals to “Let’s Get Live” and I whipped up this handy dandy remix sampling a bunch of Bob Bucko Jr. tracks, the man who would eventually release this album on his label Personal Archives. One Buckaroo Banzai reference later and you have this bizarre remix.
Couch Surfing for Eternity (About a Band)
I met YJY upstairs at the Kung Fu Necktie, performing at one of my very first Philly shows. They melted my face and blew my mind. From there, we became great friends and played a bunch more shows together. Eventually, with the lead singer and guitarist, Steve Sachs, moving to Seattle, they decided to hang up the gloves for good. I was devastated and wrote this song the night I found out. An ode to the enduring YJY, a band who will live on in infamy as true beautiful geniuses. This one’s for you boys, save a spot on that couch for me.
You can stream and buy Darko the Super’s “Watered Down Demon Fuzz” HERE.