When the duo GO DARK released its first EP on Halloween 2014, it was rumored that one member was prolific rapper and beat producer Doseone. Eventually that was revealed to be true: The alternative hip-hop pioneer had teamed up with newcomer Ash, who had never before been part of a professional music group, to create this new project.
From his time in Greenthink to the influential Deep Puddle Dynamics, Clouddead, Subtle, Themselves and 13 & God, Doseone, aka Adam Drucker, has served as a great example of an artist who has been around making consistently innovative music, whether on his own or with other talented collaborators — in this case, Kimya Dawson, Sole, Pictureplane and Serengeti. Despite the quality of his work, one of the keys to Doseone's artistic success and respectability comes in exploring outside his own comfort zone and that of his fan base. Each of Doseone's projects is very different from the last, and GO DARK is no exception. Being anonymous in the beginning helped listeners to meet the music on its own terms rather than develop preconceptions based on Doseone's reputation.
“You are only brand-new once, so just beginning as GO DARK felt right,” Doseone says. “I feel like the people who appreciate 'Doseone-ness' knew about it right away anyhow. And we are trying to be art first, [band] members second, I suppose.”
“I think secretive projects are like that rare-edition baseball card you stumble across,” Ash offers. “That one first good moment you have with a random vinyl that then becomes 'that one special' vinyl. I loved hunting down records in shops that the bandmembers knifed drawings on the record; they were priceless, the more obscure the better.”
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In trying to make listeners' encounters with its music something "priceless," the duo made its debut EP, Bitchsword, available for free online — but with a twist. You had to visit bitchsword.com and play a simple eight-bit video game featuring a warrior slicing his way through a horde of monsters. It was pretty much impossible not to win and earn the download, but that wasn't the point. The game was a way to engage listeners and turn accessing the music into an amusing and active endeavor. A year later, at brightwild.xyz, you could play another eight-bit horror-themed game to get more tracks from the enigmatic project, this time from its Bright Wild EP.
GO DARK's music is impossible to pigeonhole, as it has some grounding in hip-hop as well as synth pop and eight-bit video-game music. Even the videos and the visual presentation of the band have roots in those old video-game systems. Ash grew up playing Sega and games like Alex the Kid and Altered Beast. Doseone has an extensive collection of classic games that by today's standards would seem quaint but which has an aesthetic that isn't trying to imitate real life.
“GO DARK is very punk for me, even though we are electronic. It's punk rock in the content, the energy, the thrashing, the noise, the screaming,” says Ash. "There’s an aggression here.”
“To me, I feel like GO DARK is the music that exists between where [our] tastes overlap,” adds Doseone. “We sort of naturally make the music we would like to hear made in the world, so it’s a bit of what we have both done before and what we have always wanted to do.”
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The band's music video for “Howl” looks like something out of a horror video game, like the original Resident Evil. And the band went to unusual lengths to capture the imagery employed.
“Zack Kasten and Peter Hinson shot and directed it and helped us realize our vision every step of the way,” Ash explains. “We broke into the abandoned Navy base in Alameda, California, and shot the whole video there. The first time we broke in, we only had some bike lights and phones. So we’re walking around, blind, [at night so] as to avoid security. The place is normally broken into by teens, graffiti writers and homeless people. We didn’t have to change a thing. You had to keep going down all these black corridors and hallways and staircases and all this shit with bike lights and try not to get lost or bump into a creep. Then we found this one hallway in the nurse’s station. Someone that broke in had a vicious pillow fight with down pillows, and the hallway floor was covered in feathers. It was beautiful, like finding a filthy waterfall. So we breathed in that shit for nights on end and shot some beautiful footage in that hallway.
All in all, we must have broken in seven times over the course of a month. We are finishing up a video for “SHE GOLD” as we speak with Zack and Peter, which we shot in an abandoned S&M club/warehouse.”
GO DARK with Metal Mother and Aytiko, Thursday, May 26, at Larimer Lounge, 303-291-1007.