Combining elements of trip-hop, rock, instrumental hip-hop and ambient down-tempo music, Dark Optics is something very different. A project by Sheffield producer and musician L. Davies, Dark Optics is an experimental force. We had a chance to chat with Dark Optics about his latest EP Remember When, future plans and how to discover new music.
Why did you enter the music industry?
Since I was young I was always surrounded by music, it played in my house, family members performing in bands or being taken to live gigs and festivals by my parents. I was a hobbyist throughout my teens, like most of us stuck up in our bedrooms trying to learn guitar riffs. It wasn’t until my late teens that I decided to go and study Music Production. A world of music was opened up to me through colleagues, friends and tutors. I absorbed it and tried to recreate it using the methods I was being taught at the time. Around then, the work I created started to become recognised and praised becoming the early stages of Dark Optics.
To answer the question, I suppose the decision to enter the music industry was taken quite early in my life. I’ve always required a creative outlet whether that be composing music, drawing or writing.
What can you tell us about your latest release Remember When?
The album is the third official release under the Dark Optics moniker. It was written over a two-year period where I felt the strongest songs were put forward to create an EP that eventually become an album. One or two of the tracks came from very early sessions back when I was at college, mainly ‘Strange Places, Strange Things’. Tracks such as ‘Where I Am’ are more of a confirmation to a state of mind; how someone can forget who they are or lose themselves in the madness that is life. With most of my music, I try to incorporate meditative themes or repetition purposefully for someone listening to be taken on a journey through the album.
What was the recording and writing process like?
Modern DAW software allows anybody to roughly sketch musical ideas out quickly, so the process of creating this album was very much trial and error. I couldn’t tell you how many ideas were sat in a folder on my hard drive that never made it or didn’t get past the dreaded 16-bar loop phase. Ones that did obviously make it onto the album were pushed through further mixing stages once I was happy with arrangements and sound design.
A lot of recording was done in my home studio as many of the songs started off either with a guitar riff or a sample I liked before fleshing it out into sections. I never really have an idea of where each song will take me other than the original source of inspiration. There’s a great sample on the first track of DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing album – I’m not sure where it’s from but the voice saying something about the music is something I relate to when writing music.
Which is your favourite track from Remember Why?
That’s hard to say. I do really like ‘Where I Am’ because it’s got a driving guitar riff that caters to the rock and metal fan in me. If I ever turn Dark Optics into a live band, I envisaged this being a strong opener or closer to the set – something to really hit people in the face with. I also really like the vocal line as I feel it’s a strong message and something people can relate to.
A close second would be ‘The Wolf’. It sounds strange but I kind of wrote it with my dog in mind. The main musical element revolves around a woodwind sample that acts as a wolf howl and drums differentiate throughout the song to depict speed and agility. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years ago, but, like the theme of the album suggests, it’s a great memory to her when listening to the track.
What about your least favourite track?
It would probably be one of the later tracks that don’t incorporate vocal samples or hooks. I do like all the tracks on the album, but some of these feel a bit ‘filler’. Had I had less completed material I think some of these may have been left off the final album.
Describe your music in three words.
Meditative, trippy and textured?
What do you think is the best way to discover new music?
I really like the ‘old school’ way of word of mouth. There’s nothing I like more than hearing someone get excited about music and telling me why they like something so much. Many of my favourite bands and artists come to me this way, usually by a friend recommending something or hearing them talk about some music. I suppose other methods come from Spotify and YouTube recommending things to me.
What does 2020 hold for Dark Optics?
Due to the worldwide crisis and being away from work as much as possible, I’ve been able to crack on with a whole load of new music. Whether any of that sees the light of day is another matter, but, hopefully, one or two tracks may be released in the coming months. I’ve found the whole lockdown thing odd musically as there’s plenty of time to be creating, but not as much inspiration or stimulation from the outside world.
What advice do you have for any person planning to become a musician?
First and foremost, do it for yourself and enjoy it. Write and play the music you want to hear. Don’t cheat yourself into thinking more gear or the best equipment makes you a better musician or producer, it doesn’t. Hone your skills and develop yourself every day; you can never stop learning about your craft or become a better musician.
Do you have any message for our readers?
Thanks for reading, I genuinely appreciate your time. Please follow and subscribe at most major platforms and feel free to get in touch. It’s always great to hear what people think of my music, good or bad!