Richard Fearless cut his teeth as a DJ in the 90s before forming Death in Vegas, a psychedelic rock group based in London. They’ve just released their 5th album, Trans Love Energie, and they’re coming out here next month for Harvest Festival, so we called him up…
So, you’re back in London now?
Yes that’s right, back in London after a little hiatus over in New York.
Little? How long was it?
Ah, about seven years. I kind of just needed a break from Death In Vegas, which I was doing full stop pretty much for the last 10 years. I decided to take a year out and go to America for a bit or so and, you know how these things are, you end up staying for…
Yep it just became one of those things, I didn’t leave.
What do you love about NYC?
Well, when I went there I was studying. It’s a fantastic place to study. You know like most people, or actually not like most people, I kind of did the boarding school thing until 18 and then I went straight into doing a degree and so it was constant education. I did an arts degree and while I was at college I met the band. But to be honest, I think university is better when you’re a bit older and just really have that desire to learn. So New York City is a great place to go back to school and learn, the environment is different.
Tell me about the new album. What we can expect?
Well I guess it has an electronic theme going through it, but it’s pretty stripped down and like a classic sounding Death in Vegas record. Lots of space and it’s quite reflective of my years as a DJ, you know that is my kind of roots as a techno based DJ. You can see that in the album, it’s a really great sounding record. There aren’t a lot of collaborations like other records in the past. It’s just myself singing and a girl from Austra.
So you’re doing some vocals as well?
Yes, I am on five tracks as well as Katie, a girl from the band Austra. They’re a fantastic band and Katie is a classically trained singer.
How did you break into music?
Really I came into it as a DJ. I came into music with just a knowledge of records really. So I was putting on parties when I was like 18 or 19. I was the kid with the records. Then I kind of got into the studio and started working that way, came from that angle as a kind of remixer. I just came into it as a DJ, as a lot of producers do.
What’s the first album you bought?
It was by a guy called George Formby, who was a kind of television star of the 40s and 50s, a comedic actor. I was kind of quite obsessed with him as a kid and so I bought his live recording album at the age of about six or seven.
I read that you grew up in Africa?
Yes, I was born in Zambia and then I lived in Botswana for most of my life.
And you also do fashion design…
Yeah, I kind of studied textiles at uni and so that has always been a passion of mine that I have dabbled in and I have done work for a few different designers over the years. We’ve just been approached by a company to do some design for them, but it always kind of happens when I’m working on an album and I often have to say no.
Do you ever use your design skills on your film clips?
Yeah I do. I did pretty much all of the film clips for Death in Vegas, apart from a couple.
Your track “Girls” was used in the film Lost in Translation. How do you think your music suited that film’s mood?
I think it probably worked well because in the film there is a lot of space. And in our music it’s not cluttered at all and I think it lends itself well to the film because of that.
Is it true you couldn’t call the band Dead Elvis due to complications with the Elvis estate?
No, it’s not as exciting as that. That’s just what people say. But it’s actually because someone else had the name, it was taken by a record label. Some sort of punk label.
Ever been to Vegas?
I was meant to go there on tour, we had a show there but it got cancelled. I think it was MTV pulling the plug on it. I probably shouldn’t say that…
And you’re heading to Australia?
Yes, I am coming out in November, we’re doing the Harvest Festival. In Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. We did a festival there a few years ago, Splendour in the Grass. I loved Australia.
Anywhere you’re keen to check out?
Well it will all depend on time and I think we only have one day off. We’re going to Byron Bay which should be fantastic.
Death in Vegas play the Harvest Festival in Melbourne (Nov 12), Sydney (Nov 13) and Brisbane (Nov 19). http://www.harvestfestival.com.au/[www.harvestfestival.com.au]