Darko The Super is the sample-heavy MC/producer iconoclast who makes all other artists look lazy. With almost 60 albums under his belt it’s safe to say he loves music and he loves what he’s doing. We had a chance to pull him from his creative tornado and talk with him for a bit before letting him get back to the art storm. Peep the interview underneath to get acquainted with the lad.
Dead End Hip Hop: Give us some background on Darko The Super for those of us who don’t know. I’m talking stats, combos, eye color if you wish.
Darko The Super: In the words of my good friend All These Fingers, Darko the Super is a bonafide rap weirdo. Stats: Nearly 60 album releases. Combos: “The Apocalyptic Bastard” where I reach into your mouth and pull out your own brain. Eye color: Turquoise. Weight: 360 pounds of pure muscle. Height: Big as a damn mountain. Age: 23, the same age Richard Kelly was when he created Donnie Darko.
DEHH: Your work borrows a lot from different genres such as rock and 80s music. How did you get into making hip hop music?
DS: It was my favorite genre growing up. It’s what all my friends in the neighborhood listened to, so I naturally grew towards it. My favorite hip hop as a kid was the songs I heard on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater and Tony Hawk Underground series, including such classics as Gang Starr’s “Mass Appeal,” De La Soul’s “Oodles of O’s,” and Eyedea & Abilities’ “Big Shots.” I always rooted for the underdog and had an under appreciated and misunderstood complex to me as a kid. So once I [had] seen movies like 8 Mile and Get Rich or Die Trying (which I watched on bootleg at a friend’s house because my parents didn’t want me to see it in theaters), I got the idea that I could get revenge on everyone who doubted me, and picked on me, by becoming a successful musician. I gravitated towards rap because that’s what was “cool” at the time. I wrote my first rap song in 6th grade. It was about basketball. The first song I recorded was over the “It Was a Good Day” instrumental by Ice Cube. A friend of a friend had a little studio in his living room and helped me record it. It was god awful, but of course I showed everyone.
DEHH: Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re based in Philly, right? Has your location or locations influenced your music in any way?
DS: I live in the suburbs of Yardley, PA, northeast of Philly. My location didn’t affect me until I started doing shows in the city, and hanging out there with friends I would meet at shows. When it comes to writing, I’m inspired by any instance or situation I find myself in, so being in the city and going on dates, and performing, it all obviously inspired a lot. Once I started going on tours those places inspired even more. Like the infamous line from Buckaroo Banzai, “no matter where you go… there you are.” I think that sums it up.
DEHH: You have an upcoming August album Watered Down Demon Fuzz, but you recently released Bummer Every Summer under the moniker of Doc Heller, and you’re releasing yet another album with your good friend ialive called Return to the Hell Hole Store on June 23. This sounds like a good time to bring up your prolific nature. Could you explain how you manage your incredible level of output?
DS: I have no reason not to pour myself completely into making music, which is what I love most in this world. It’s becoming more and more of a necessity for me to create to stay away from being absolutely miserable. Maybe it’s unhealthy, but I honestly don’t even consider ever slowing down. People say I “oversaturate” myself, which is something I don’t understand. Like Homeboy Sandman said, “how can an artist make too much art?” This is my job and I do it well. It baffles me that artists in much better positions than me don’t release as much music. You’re telling me you make enough money not to worry about finding a “real” career and you’re not writing a thousand songs a year? Mainly because you’re worried about marketing and advertisement? I feel bad for you if you’re that uninspired.
DEHH: This is very open-ended, but what can you tell me about Watered Down Demon Fuzz? Is there a theme you were going for, whether underlying or overt?
DS: “Watered Down Demon Fuzz” is a phrase I read from a poem in the CD insert of Beck’s Mellow Gold. It really struck me as something I was working toward at the time. I had made a bunch of beats after really getting into Shabazz Palaces one night. Later on, I was immersed in the world of Daniel Johnston after listening to his albums and watching the documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston. That inspired a lot of abstract writing from me, going back to my fascination with Beck’s anti folk days. The album started coming together, and a theme slightly developed. The album to me is a coming of age idea about self reflection and exploration. Much of it is from the perspective of a prophet frustrated with his constant rejection. Almost as if he’s a different species entirely, an alien who doesn’t perceive time as linear, and is warning earth of it’s imminent demise. He may be a lunatic, but he could also be right. On the other side of the spectrum is a man filled with self doubt, suicidal thoughts, and envy. Living in a watered down version of the dreams and ambitions he once had.
DEHH: Your music is very sample-heavy. What do you look for when choosing samples?
DS: Whatever sounds like something I can work with and tell a story from. The lyrics of a song is what always grabs my attention. A lot of it can be based on nostalgia. I don’t seek out songs to sample anymore, they usually come to me. I listen to a lot of music and something will always jump out at me as something to use in my own creation. I try to always spin things into my own sound. If I could actually play an instrument, I probably wouldn’t be sampling so much. It’s a great deal of fun, but there’s obstacles that come with it as well. My most recent albums will most likely never be digitally distributed to major streaming outlets, due to the songs I chose to sample. My biggest influence in sampling is Charles Hamilton, I think he’s an absolute genius. He’s inspired me to sample any and everything. But at the same time, I don’t wanna get sued by Twisted Sister.
DEHH: Your lyrics are one-of-a-kind in my opinion. What’s your writing process like?
DS: Anything that inspires me, I immediately write about. I usually don’t write to a certain beat in particular or at all. Most of my songs are written doing daily tasks, like taking a shower, driving somewhere, walking my dogs, mowing the lawn, etc. Ideas strike me late at night when I can’t sleep as well. I wrote a song around 3am the other night that I’m especially proud of. It’s about aliens taking over earth and killing all the adults and how fun that would be. I type everything either on my laptop or the notes section of my phone.
DEHH: You mention in your music that you have a lot of negative critics. Has it affected live performances and how do you deal with negative feedback?
DS: I’ve been very confrontational during my live sets as of late. There’s a lot of yelling and frustration involved. I draw inspiration from the great Tony Clifton. I deal with negative feedback by coming up with more clever ways to be mean to them. As you can tell with my song “HipHopDX Bad, Darko Good” I’m more than capable of handling myself in those situations.
DEHH: Your music isn’t like most hip hop and it might frighten or confuse people. Where do you see yourself fitting in with the hip hop community?
DS: Honestly I have no idea. Going based off shows, it can be a different experience every time. I do know me and ialive are always received rather well to the avant-garde and experimental community. They seem to enjoy us. Most rap crowds are hit or miss. Plus, in my experience the local hip hop scene in most places is either incredible, or super lame and pathetic. There’s not as much professionalism as there should be in most music communities. So to answer your question, I don’t concern myself with fitting in.
DEHH: Much of your content discusses thoughts of suicide and your own battles with suicidal depression. What made you decide to include these feelings in your music?
DS: Well I think it helps to write about those feelings. It’s almost as if my music is a substitute to keeping a journal. When I first heard Charles Hamilton’s album This Perfect Life, I heard how personal someone could be in their music and I knew I wanted to affect people who were struggling with these bouts of depression in the same way. It’s comforting knowing you’re not alone. So, though writing about my thoughts of suicide helps me, I hope it can help others in a way too. I want people to find an uplifting message in there somewhere, wherever I left it.
DEHH: Are there any current artists you would recommend we listen to?
DS: Some more current bands and artists I’ve been listening to are The Garden, Slaves, YJY, The Fabulous Downey Brothers, Homeboy Sandman, ialive, Billy Woods, Kool A.D., Shabazz Palaces, Torito, Static Brothers, Big Baby Gandhi, MyGrane McNastee, Day Tripper, The Difference Machine, Kool Keith, Serengeti and Carl Kavorkian. Some not too current bands I’ve been listening to are The Presidents of the Untied States of America, Harvey Danger, Frank Zappa, Oingo Boingo, Devo, Daniel Johnston, Half Japanese, and the Beastie Boys.
DEHH: Do you currently have any projects going on outside of music?
DS: I’m working on a screenplay, loosely inspired by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention’s album Absolutely Free.
DEHH: In the most non-threatening way possible, do you have any last words?
DS: I’d like to leave with an excerpt from Bill Hicks’ last words, a person who has inspired and influenced me immensely. He is my spiritual advisor. “I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.” – William Melvin Hicks.
You can find Darko The Super before he finds you on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. His collaborative album with ialive Return to the Hell Hole Store was unleashed on an unsuspecting world on June 23, and his upcoming album “Watered Down Demon Fuzz” will be available August 25th.