Based in Reading, Draconic Elimination Projects is a dark electronic music project born of idealism, eclecticism and the drive to do something different. We caught up with D.E.P. main man Mark Haigh to find out a little more about his musical output, remix work and his future endeavours.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind D.E.P. and how would you describe your sound?
D.E.P started off in college when I discovered that electronic music wasn’t cheating: I’d always had a love for synths, but as part of rock bands (primarily the much maligned prog rock) rather than pure electronic acts. I grew up with this image of what I saw as “real” music and only whilst studying it did I realise just how creative and inventive computers and electronic instruments can allow you to be. Describing my sound is difficult as I try to encourage it to lilt through different genres, moods and styles of writing: from raucous anthems through more balladic pieces and full on ambient exposition. “Dark” and “electronic” are about as much as I can focus it down to!
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
The aesthetic and vibe whilst generally ticking away on the darker side of electronics can flex through more upbeat moments.. but the inspiration for me is a thirst to experiment and learn more about the music bound tightly with a desire to make people feel. It almost doesn’t matter what they feel, be it joy, anger, utter disappointment in my songwriting abilities.. just evocation of feeling.
Your social media profiles highlight the project’s mission statement as “”…a unique musical project aiming to eliminate the draconian rules of what you can play, how you have to look to play it, and who should listen to it…” – how does that work in practice when writing and producing your original tracks?
This is the danger of starting writing as an idealistic 17 year old! While I probably wouldn’t structure it the same way my statement is more of an ethos, and one that I stand by. It’s matched closely by the label my charity (Beat:Cancer) works with; AnalogueTrash. “No Boundaries. No Scenes.”, that they brilliantly maintain.
In practice that means trying to keep each track distinct, while making a release cohesive. Not being afraid to mix distorted drums and dark ambiance with soaring trance and balearic beats, with a soupcon of flamenco guitar or blues organ thrown in.
We live in a world now furnished by streaming media that has actually broken down many of the labelled barriers of genre and style: whereas when I was growing up your music was your tribe, now a pick and mix approach is more normal, which is what I’ve always strived to achieve in my writing.
Besides your own releases, your remix work is certainly widespread and prolific – how do you approach a new remix, and how have you come to work with the wide range of artists that you have?
Remixing was something I first dabbled with for Ghost In The Static a few years back, and I found I had underestimated just what it could mean and quickly fell in love with it as a writing experience in itself. When I remix I always aim to twist the direction of the track into a different style that still honours the original. I’ll usually start by stripping away all the instruments and just listening to the vocals, maybe changing tempos or even time signatures a few times to experiment with the vocal grooves. From then… anything goes. I’ve cut vocals down to lines or even just words and played them back over tracks through samplers, I’ve rewritten the music entirely underneath and occasionally re-directed the meaning of the track with different samples and added vocals. I’m not the person to ask if you want a club hit remix!
In terms of the range of artists at first it was word of mouth: we have a tremendously vital and vibrant community of artists here in the UK, and working with them is a real pleasure: so I just offered up my services, and often received remixes in return, which was what spawned Beat:Cancer. Nowadays I mainly work with remixing artists to bring them onto Beat:Cancer releases, so that we can make their contribution exclusive and special.
Alongside D.E.P., you’ve mentioned that you’re also the main man behind the Beat:Cancer live events and releases in the UK – how do you juggle everything, and how has your work with Beat:Cancer linked in with your own project’s output?
I really don’t know how I do it, other than my comrades: the guys at AnalogueTrash (Mark and Ady), my trustees Simon (BeinE) Becca are essential.. and so are the promoters and artists we work with, especially Chris and the team in Peterborough who have hosted a Halloween Beat:Cancer Ball every year for the last 3 years (and will do again on the 29th October!). It’s a community, it’s a team and it’s enabled me to work with some of the best artists out there: I get to host Neonsol, Memmaker and Freakangel this year, artists flying in from around the world, and I get to remix, perform and write with them: I’ve drummed live for Syd.31 and BeinE now, I’ve remixed ESA, Dirty K and Neonsol to name but a few. It gives me creative outlets that serve to further our goal of kicking cancer’s ass!
What’s next for D.E.P? Have you any plans to take D.E.P. live in the future?
The album… It’s been in the pipeline for 3 years now, ever since the release of In:Parallel with Mike from MiXE1. It’s nearly there, currently my good friend Gary Walker from Defeat is mixing and mastering it, and we have some sublime remixes lined up as well. On top of that I’m working to finish off the music video we started filming around the same time. The main thing I want is to go live. Working with a few artists across the country I’m trying to recreate and rework my material to bring a truly live experience… ideally in equal parts epic, emotional and daft. Then we just need to get signed and tour the world!