Emotions Running Wild; An Interview with Dave Depper

Dave Depper has made quite the musical career being a vital part of several Northwest bands.  Acts like Menomena, Fruit Bats, Mirah, Corin Tucker, and Laura Gibson have all called upon Depper to be part of their projects.  Today, Depper has solidified his role within the ranks of Death Cab for Cutie; after being a touring member for a year, Depper is onboard full-time. 

Now comes the next step of Depper’s musical progression-the long awaited release of Emotional Freedom Technique.  Written and recorded at his home in Portland during those short-term periods not being on the road, Depper went into shaping his debut.  Everything Depper did with Emotional Freedom Technique was done by himself on purpose, from the writing to the instrumentals.  Heavy on the synth pop and simple hooks, Emotional Freedom Technique brings to life the deeply rooted songs that were personal to Depper. 

Ghettoblaster recently caught up Depper to discuss the production of Emotional Freedom Technique, how a night with friends led to him to go about writing for the album, and more.  Here is what he said.

When purchasing a Farfisa organ from Chad Crouch (Hush Records/Blanket Music), he mentioned to you about playing bass.  Having never played before, you agreed to do so.  Now that some time has passed, have you ever confessed to Crouch about your fib?

Oh yes, I confessed pretty soon afterwards! It turned out that I kinda had a natural knack for bass playing, so it all worked out for everybody in the end.

You have played music with a long line of various musicians that all encompass different vibes.  Having the opportunity to be around such a wide range of sound, what you say was the similarity that pulls it together?

I’m naturally drawn to musicians who are committed to doing things their own way, who nurture a unique aesthetic and don’t follow the prevailing trends.

Before becoming a full-time member of Death Cab for Cutie, you were about the join Ray LaMontagne’s touring band.  What lead you to choose to go the other way?

I did join Ray’s touring band, and played with him for nearly a year!

Your lyrics for the album paint the picture of the struggle of being a traveling musician, relationship wise.  Do you feel as if recording Emotional Freedom Technique was therapeutic?  To help get some of those feelings out in the open?

Yes, absolutely. It’s probably the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done, and that includes going to therapy! That’s a big part of why I gave the album the title it ended up with – it was an incredibly emotionally freeing experience.

You are stepping out as the lead singer/musician.  Especially after all these years being in the supportive role of the band, how does it feel?

It’s been alternately frightening, exciting, panic-inducing, and triumphant. I’m not naturally very comfortable being in the spotlight, and I’ve had to work really hard to find the confidence in myself to really do it the right way. I’ve never put lyrics out in the world to be scrutinized, and though I’ve played thousands of concerts in my life I have rarely been the focal point of anybody’s attention. That said, I am enjoying myself and its fun to have this little side solo career that I can nurture when time allows.

Was there any point when you thought about scrapping Emotional Freedom Technique because of your vigorous touring schedule?

Oh, for sure. There were several times where I’d be on a roll with recording, only to leave for a couple of months and then return to find that I absolutely hated everything that I’d recorded before I left. And after a few years of this I began to wonder if the recordings were simply too old and that I needed to start on a fresh project. I’m glad I stuck with it. I also like that these songs kind of neatly sum up a multi-year period in my life.

If you and your friends never came up with the idea to write twenty songs in twelve hours, do you think you would have ever recorded an album like Emotional Freedom Technique?

I’m not really sure! I do think that I would have eventually become interested in the recording of electronic pop music, but that game was a definite catalyst that resulted in a jumping-off point for the entire album, musically speaking.

You have been fortunate to take part in a lot of amazing things in your music career.  What is that you want to do next?

I’m very excited to be recording a new album with Death Cab later this year. And I’ve also begun working on my own next solo record. Emotional Freedom Technique is nominally a synthpop album, but I’m interested in taking some of the sounds I explored with it and just taking them as far as I can go on the next record- hopefully making something a bit darker and more avant-garde. There’s a lot of small song ideas that I’ve worked on thus far, and I can’t wait to grow them into whatever they’re meant to be.

Emotional Freedom Technique is out now via Tender Loving Empire

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