Dark Dazey is a psychedelic rock band from Los Angeles with a passion for keeping listeners on their toes. From thrash metal to bossa nova to country-tinged jazz jams, nothing is off limits for the often surprising group.
The band’s live shows are a sight to behold, relying on significant audience participation. That was on full display during their recent music festival debut at Treefort in Boise, Idaho.
One of Dark Dazey’s members, Simon Hirschfield, spent a good chunk of his childhood here in Jackson before moving west. KHOL Music Director Jack Catlin caught up with Hirschfield and the rest of the band in between shows.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Saturday, March 25.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: For those new to your music, your bio states that you are a colorful psych-rock outfit from L.A. with a flair for genre-bending. How would you, in your own words, describe your sound and your style?
OLIVER VAN MOON: There’s a lot of dynamics in the shows, you know, we’ll be up and dancing and then just doing guitar and whistling. We’ll do different genres back to back. Sometimes we’re about to go on and play a show after some other band and we’re like, ‘Oh man, wow. They just played a bunch of really heavy stuff. How is the crowd going to receive this?’ But, you know, we get up and do a bunch of different stuff, and I think there’s a little something for everyone. There are pop moments, there are rock moments, there are funk moments and sometimes all in the same song, you know?
SIMON HIRSCHFIELD: We’re genreless, but our genre is kind of fun, and the music is fun. And that’s our goal. Everyone should be having fun at a Dark Dazey show.
SPENCER MARTIN: We also really like to consider audience engagement. And because the nature of a live show is performing for people, we really think, ‘How can we best earn the trust of and serve the audience?’ because we have so many genres. If we just throw whatever we like at them at once, it might be kind of alienating for some people. So thinking, ‘How do we get somebody going from moshing to dancing along to like a cute, twee chameleon song?’ Where can we earn their trust and show them, ‘Hey, we know what we’re doing and this is thought out.’ So we spend a lot of time constructing sets that way.
KHOL: From what I’ve read, ever since you all first started your shows, you’ve magnetically attracted a freak flag-flying contingent of loyal fans. How important is it to build and maintain that sense of community with not just your fans, but also people new to your music?
MARTIN: We said earlier that Dark Dazey is a friendship corporation, and that joke came about because we realized that Dark Dazey is one big node of friends on the web, and every time we add in a new person, we’re adding in 50 of their friends and then 50 of each of their friends. And that’s kind of how we’ve been able to thrive and succeed by recognizing that everybody that comes to these shows in one way or another is connected. And why would that not then turn into a wonderful friendship? And we’re all kind of weirdos, so our friends are necessarily weirdos, so we are all just kind of in the same boat of like, ‘Hey, we got each other. And you do you to the most extreme you want to.’ And I think that when you see a community that recognizes that in each other, there’s nothing but support. And it can really turn into a wonderful, wonderful wave.
KHOL: I love this quote from singer and guitarist Cole Heramb in an interview: ‘I’m proud of our dedication to great music and quality sound, but even more so I’m proud of how we have contributed to the spread of positivity, inclusivity, and social responsibility.’ Can you expand on that for us?
COLE HERAMB: As far as creating a band and building a scene that can do that, I think that’s the reason I wanted to make something bigger than myself and put this music out into the world. I would really allow for all these people to come together and see like, ‘We can do something fun and we can do something that will move you and [make you] feel really good.’ It is the most inspiring and emotionally impactful moment of my life when people are like, ‘I listened to this music and I was like, the saddest I’ve been. I’m far away from all my friends. I heard this song. I cried or like, this means so much to my family that you guys were here today.’ And that’s just human. And that has just made my life so much better. And you try as hard as you can to create something that’s void of ego and magical and important and moving on its own and that stays with people when they walk away from the show.
MARTIN: We do take very seriously the role that we play as people projecting a message and the social responsibility that we have of projecting these notions of anti-racism, anti-transphobia, and by saying statements like ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ and really standing behind these, it’s not just to say these statements to let people know this is what we think. But as Dark Dazey, “Friendship Corporation,” these are the values that we hold. If you come to this show, we hope you know that this is what we think, so that you’re surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals and that you feel safe in that space. And knowing that if you come to a show, regardless of who you are, how you identify, where you’ve been and where you come from, you’re going to be surrounded by a group of people who are all there with a similar mindset and creating these spaces by being vocal about our political and ideological beliefs is, I think, really important to us, to be able to create spaces to have fun in a really carefree way.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Dark Dazey.