Darcy Baylis has been a mainstay of the Melbourne music scene since the age of 16. A deep level of sincerity runs throughout all his musical projects from as far back as his Naminé moniker; but his latest record Intimacy and Isolation signals a more polished and mature sound. The album delves into depression, suicide, and trauma, baring his innermost personal feelings. It is as brave as it is beautiful.
A quick Google search yields interviews with Baylis that paint him as a stoic young man, but as someone who has known him for many years, that image seems all wrong. In person he is goofy but remains carefully spoken with plans to project more of his fun side out into the ether and into his music, beginning with an unreleased song ‘Cucks’. After tackling the seriousness of his music, Baylis and I spoke about coping mechanisms for negative reviews, his premature retirement from music, and our shared admiration for Lil Uzi Vert making a career with one word – ‘yeah’.
How are you feeling about Intimacy and Isolation now that it’s been out for a minute?
I’m feeling really good. I had this idea in my head, not that it was good but that it was really good. I just feel good that I wasn’t wrong.
It’s cool that it has been received the way you imagined it would.
Or even better! Basically, all of this really great stuff has been happening ever since its release that I couldn’t have ever imagined.
Having the opportunity to consistently work on my art, start performing again, and feel like I’m a musician again properly, you know? This being an integral part of who I am as opposed to [people asking] “Do you still do that music thing?”. It’s like, hey I still do this and I spend a lot of time doing this. I think that’s the best feeling.
You produced a lot of it overseas and I remember when you returned home you decided you were done with music. You started concentrating on a career as an academic. What happened?
I feel like when I graduated towards the end of my degree I was just done. I had been researching and composing music everyday, most of the day for three years in school and out of school and the whole idea of it became ridiculous and frustrating. I felt that I had said everything I wanted to say. But it’s ridiculous to think I was like that when I was 20, because I feel that when I left for overseas and came back and started making music again in new ways, it was like I haven’t even started yet.
You’ve received some negative feedback online about your album. How does that compare to receiving criticism at school? How does it feel when you’re tweeted at with these kind of reviews?
Every time I’ve read negative press about my work I’ve taken it as a compliment because it’s always been over things that I strive for. I remember once I read somewhere that someone didn’t like my music because it was too sincere, but I set out to make very sincere music so it just makes me feel like I’ve done my job. Someone once mentioned that my live show was too clinical, robotic, and lacked a human element and I remember that show in particular and that’s exactly what I wanted it to sound like, so I did what I wanted to do, they just didn’t like it.
It is just wild that people will hit you up on Twitter to say these things to you, but people forget you’re another human being on the internet.
My friend Chris and I were talking about this earlier. The notion of people becoming viral memes and things to laugh at like ‘Damn Daniel’ and the ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl. How they become this thing that’s separate to a person and an abstract symbol on which people project their own hatred onto. It’s wild to think that’s just the world we live in and at any moment I could become a part of that narrative.
The album is serious; it tackles your own demons, your own hardships as common themes that run throughout your music. How do you feel performing it?
Some of the subject matter is heavy and some of it relates to people. At the time of writing it and immediately after it’s sad, it’s depressing music. Like any relationship with a person or an event from a certain time, the songs are still important to me but I don’t have a visceral reaction, they’ve become songs and less so feelings over time.
Have you figured out a way of performing it live that you don’t find unbearable?
I know my music is serious but I’m not a serious person, I like to dance around and jump around and have a lot of fun. It’s going to be me just being who I am and not putting on the persona of an electronic musician because I’m not that either.
You have a song in the works called ‘Cucks’.
‘Cucks’ has three different working titles but they all have the word cuck in it. I have all these throwaway songs and I guess I’ll turn up to the show and see which…
Way you want to be cucked?
One is this whiny rap song and another one I can only describe as tech-grunge. I have no other words for it. The other one is this really, really kitschy new wave song, like Kraftwerk before they got serious. I think the more music I write the less it is about the inner workings of my mind and more about the world. I’m hoping that will mean more people have fun as opposed to coming to ‘The Darcy Baylis Show’ and being like “Let’s see what he’s upset about this time”.
I’ve been privy to your evolution into a Soundcloud rapper, what’s going on?
I guess that I make a lot of beats, my friends make a lot of beats, we hang out, we get drunk, we write raps, we record them. Most of the time it’s a joke, every now and again I sit there and think “This is amazing” and if I heard this and didn’t know who it was it’s a song I would add it to my Soundcloud collection and listen to it 20 times a day. I think there’s a way to make music that shows my love for all this stuff while still being respectful and not being a slime bag about it. I think there’s a difference between rappers who put on a persona to rap about things that they don’t have and rappers whose music sounds exactly the same but it’s genuinely about what their life is like. Like when you think about someone like Post Malone and someone like Lil Peep, both are white people making historically black music and being appropriative in the process but I think that while I do genuinely like the music of Post Malone there very much is a sense of insincerity which I think you can pick up on. Someone like Lil Peep who seems like a slime bag as well seems to be rapping about things more directly related to him and I feel like it’s neither here nor there. There are a million ways to be a rapper but I think even in my own life as a human being that honesty, consistency, and sincerity is important and that’s why it’s important to me.
And your music is very sincere?
[Laughs] Totally! When I say Soundcloud rapper it’s mostly singing. It’s not even about bars anymore, it’s about how many different ways you can say “yeah”.
Lil Uzi Vert has clocked it.
Right! Lil Uzi Vert has made 25% of his career off the word ‘Yeah’ and the other 25% off the word ‘Uh’ and I’m not even complaining, that’s amazing. When I used to go into making music, I would stop myself and think “Is this cool, is this okay, is this allowed?”. My best friend Chris gave me really good advice and said “You just make the art first then you check if it’s okay afterwards, otherwise you’re never going to make it and you’re never going to know if it’s okay or not” so I feel like I’ve now allowed myself to do whatever I want.
What’s something you want people to know about you after reading this?
I’m just getting started.
Darcy Baylis wear adidas Originals EQT.
This feature originally appeared in the March issue of Limit’d.
- Photography: Elliott Lauren