Darren cross


I am constantly writing songs or tripping out about some new music I have found. I Love music. It helps me live.

Darren Cross

Hi Darren and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Musicology.

Firstly congratulations on the new album _Xantastic .

There seems to be a time in every prolific musician’s career where they depart from their signature band and continue to work as a solo artist. Exploring a new direction in ways that only an individual can. You have been doing this for some time but in your case was the time with Gerling something that unbeknown to you mapped out a future path as a solo artist?

I guess everything you do has some effect on something. I didn’t really plan to do anything but make music so I am here now and that’s it I think! I learnt how to program and do music production with Gerling so that was cool..I mean when I started there wasn’t any internet LOL. As an artist I will continue to make music regardless of the 'music industry' side of things. There are so many things to be angry about these days- it’s a great climate for song writing - in any format. Gerling was a long time ago...its like a fond memory LOL.

This album is a fine example of your work in general as a fusion of your styles and tastes aptly displayed in your other outfits such as Jep & Dep and E.L.F. Would you say that your work as Darren Cross provides the bridge to your divided love of alt country and electro?

Yeah perhaps- I am consciously trying to not get pigeon holed - hopefully it’s just music - that sounds great on a turntable. Genres are not really relevant to me- at all.

Can you describe your creative processes and the ebbs and flows between genres? Is it a case of focusing on one style at a time which is consistent with a certain sentiment in your life at that given moment or more so a case of always having these different musical styles within you operating at the same time and flicking one on as you switch off the other?

I usually write songs as folk songs- an acoustic guitar, weird tuning- get the song complete, record a demo and then see what direction it needs to go in....it’s all about vibe and atmosphere to me...giving the song the feeling it deserves...I am constantly writing songs or tripping out about some new music I have found. I love music. It helps me live. Something like the song New Angel (Cherry Strips) was originally like a Leonard Cohen song - but I drank a jug of coffee- stayed awake all night- woke up at the computer- pressed play and that song came out of the speakers- I can’t even remember deleting the acoustic guitar track and adding the freaked out synth stuff- this to me is cool!

What were some of the challenges in putting this album together and equally what were some of the great surprises in writing / recording the _Xantastic?

I guess choosing when to stop with production is the challenge- as I can produce a song to make it sound like anything - from Taylor Swift to Animal Collective LOL - I gotta find my own sound- that’s the challenge- and know when to stop- I purposely have chosen to keep things minimal- a reviewer missed the point once and criticised me for the "stark/home recorded sound'- it’s so easy to layer vocals in production- wack an autotune on it- and boom - Hillsong sing along.. but that’s not my vibe. If it sounds like Townes Van Zandt singing over an 808 - and it feels right, I keep it.

What considerations were there in the track listing for the record taking into account the confluence of styles that feature on the LP?

I wrote the album with the vinyl format in mind. I wanted each half of the records to work in regards to all the different genres- kinda like a movie soundtrack compilation- or a Beatles album. Also I wanted stoners to be so into the album - on vinyl they would not get the fear - get off the couch and skip a track- hope I’m successful :) This is a, get stoned, eat a pizza kinda record on a Monday night.

The opening track When The Chills Are Coming features the line “this is your child’s future” suggesting that there isn’t a bright future on the horizon. What is your take on where we are at globally in 2017 and your vision of things to come?

I think the amount of propaganda, brainwashing and control happening with smart phones, mainstream media, rapid gentrification, population boom, globalisation and politics etc is really really something for us all to look at. No one really cares. It's crazy. Fucking crazy. Empathy?? Does it exist anymore?

New Angel (Cherry Strips) dips its feet into folktronica with a great accompanying video clip. Was this something you pieced together or worked in conjunction with someone on?

No I did the clip all by myself. I was going to get a filmmaker to do the clip for me and I had written a different concept for the clip but he let me down so out of desperation I made the clip for New Angel (Cherry Strips) - inspired a lot by goth and industrial clips. I think it came out entertaining and suits the track.

Time Destroys the Innocence, has an Elvis Depressedly flavour to it and seems like an aching reflection of a bad relationship. How much of your material on this album canvases times in your life from the past compared to that of the present?

Thanks for the compliment, I recently bought a whole bunch of his stuff on Bandcamp. Yeah that’s a song about a girl who didn’t love me back - unrequited love- her friend died and then she left the country. Unrequited love is always a great one for some writing - especially if you are feeling depressed...but yeah this happened a long time ago- it’s weird- I made up this strange folk tuning one night and that story/memory came out of the wood work from the vibe of the guitar tuning....its weird- songs sometimes write themselves.

In thinking about how your finals cuts take shape, Never Again which first appeared on Plankton Icke and Tina Turner David City Limits under E.L.F, returns with a slight jazz reworking as Never Again Again. What is lost or gained by reworking such tracks?

Hmmmm give the track a different atmosphere- I really love Never Again - so I just had to include it on my debut album - I think it’s the most Gerling track on -_Xantastic- it just seemed to give the album an energy hit half way through the record :)

You are no slouch around the mixing desk and have always been savvy in terms of production and all aspects of your work. Is _Xantastic exclusively a solo project?

Dave Mudie from Courtney Barnett’s band played drums on the track Just Got Along (la la le) - Dave is an old friend and a great drummer- he also played drums on Highway Lights In The Night and I sampled them into a single beat thing. Shane Reilly from Melbourne played the haunting pedal steel Just Got Along (la la le). Both great musicians and lovely humans. I did the rest of the album myself- apart from master the album - that was my old friend and genius William Bowden - at King Willy Sound in Tasmania. The vinyl version of '_Xantastic' sounds phenomenal- marshmallow for your eardrums.

On a technical level what's in the kit?

Top secret. I was going to 'get with the times' the other day and buy a new 'Maschine' but the music store guys were such nob-jockeys I didn’t. Pfffttttt. Mostly old stuff and Rode mics. Rode are great.

You have “with a heavy heart returned to Australia” after a European tour. What were your experiences like overseas and can we expect a little Australian tour shortly?

This last tour of Europe in Jan/Feb was fantastic. My album _Xantastic' came out on a Paris based label 'Rockers Die Younger" and I did a promotional tour mainly in Paris but also went to other parts of France, Netherlands, Berlin and Belgium. I was playing shows, instores and dj-ing. The French label just put the album on vinyl which was great- it’s not on Spotify - just vinyl/cd/digital on bandcamp. I love France and the label is run by one really dedicated and good friend of mine now- we have a similar spirt and loved working together- as the music industry has totally been globalised we share similar ideas with how we should operate with in this new ever changing structure. Being TRULY independent these days is really hard. I’m going back to France - I had a really great response so this is encouraging. A thrill was that my favourite radio station in Berlin 'Radio Eins' - did an 45 minute special on me. I was also on the telly in the Netherlands. So cool.

RADIO EINS Listen here

EuropeTour diary here

As Journey said' Don't Stop Believing'.

_Xantastic available on VINYL/CD/DIGITAL here