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Escape Velocity

No Man Of Mystery: An Interview With Dave I.D.
Ben Hewitt , March 15th, 2011 08:04

Ben Hewitt chats creative frustration and media myths with the shadowy figure who's been racking up column inches, even though no-one knows the first thing about him

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Everyone's got Dave I.D. pegged as a recluse: some sort of shady bedroom-dweller who keeps himself well hidden, and only emerges from his bunker sporadically to toss another piece of music out into public consumption. Even his most recent offering – the snarling and brooding Gangs EP – seemed to appear out of thin air and unaccompanied by scant biographical information. But he's not giving the 'mystery man' label much credence. "It's just because I'm not famous," he spits with laughter, sat in a pub in Dalston. "No-one knows me. People talk about all that 'hidden artist' stuff, but that's bullshit. I've got no fanbase; I've got no audience. No-one knows me. No-one gives a fuck."

People are starting to give a fuck about Dave I.D. (or, to give him is proper name, David Andrew Hedges), though. Having made music for "pretty much ages now" but only adopting his current moniker since 2006, the five tracks that make up Gangs take in post punk, trip hop and other genres, but never descend into mere pastiche. The beats are brutal and the sounds are relentlessly primitive; despite the fleeting glimpses of sweetness, such as the falsetto chorus of 'Marvel', it's the rusty and abrasive attack of 'Only Me I Can Save' and 'X-F' that rides roughshod over everything else. "I think it's aggressive, definitely," half-agrees Hedges. "But I've been much angrier and more aggressive before. The EP is probably the lightest stuff I've ever made. The new stuff I find much more flowery, and colourful, and more bright.

"I always find it's more about being the underdog – that optimism," he continues. "It's not necessarily negativity. There's an undercurrent of spurring something. It's not just saying 'It's shit, it's over'; it's saying "It's shit and I don't want to do it anymore'."

Dave I.D. is seemingly a product of happenstance rather than any rigid plan. Originally he just wanted to produce music for other people and had no intention of becoming a solo artist, but he couldn't find anyone whose work interested him. He didn't seek out a manager or a record label, but they came to him instead; the main reason those relationships work, he says, is because they leave him to get on with making music. Before, he used to try and write music, but now he just lets it happen naturally. "I don't really write," he shrugs. "I just sort of do it all in one go. I don't try to do anything. I just do it. I guess to a degree I'll listen over it a little bit, and see if I can do something a bit better, but I kind of like things to always be instinct.

"If there's music that sounds like I make, I didn't listen to it [growing up]," he adds. "And it wasn't until people started writing about writing certain things that they thought my music sounded like that I heard some of those people; artists like Cabaret Voltaire and stuff. I checked them out, and I really liked them. I'd never compare myself to anyone I really like anyway."

Most of the songs on Gangs were finished back in 2009. Since then, Hedges has been working on his as-of-yet untitled debut LP for the past year or so, but he's not sure when it will be released. "It's not going very well right now," he says, laughing, when we ask how the sessions are going. "It's not… it's just not. I had a guy [on mixing duties] that I was really happy to work with, and some shit happened, and now I'm trying to work with someone else who's trying to learn a little bit about the way I think to get the record finished. And I'm not sure that's necessarily the right way". So what is the right way? "I don't know," he frowns. "I've got to figure that out.

"All the songs have been written, but I've written about five other songs in the last week which are really good. I want to push it as far as I can. I don't want to get too wanky about deadlines and stuff, but everything never fucking goes to plan. So that's my attitude right now."

With his pint nearly finished, Hedges prepares to leave - he has to prepare for a secret live show he's got planned, and his manager's also just been issued a parking ticket on the road outside - but he offers one final parting shot. "I have really bad concentration," he confesses. "My attention span is rubbish. I constantly go from one thing to the other; I do three songs all at once sometimes. I guess it's not the ideal way to work". But if it's not broke, then don't fix it; and right now, whatever Dave I.D. is doing definitely seems to be working.