Tone of Arc's Live Show: "Sexy Vibes and Our Story as Gooey Disgusting Lovers"
Derrick Boyd may have blipped across your radar a couple years back with his dark deep techno releases as Dead Seal. But Tone of Arc, Boyd's collaborative project with girlfriend and vocalist Zoe Presnick has definitely showcased the San Francisco producer's talents to the world this past year.
It's pretty hard to miss the pair, with cosmic gypsy costumes and expressionistic live antics. But Tone of Arc isn't just about quirky fashion and theatrics. The duo's live show, complete with string instruments, singing, and the palpable chemistry that can only exist between two real-life lovers is a reinvigorating breath of fresh air in an EDM scene dominated by laptop-staring DJs and pre-programmed sets.
Crossfade caught up with Mr. Boyd ahead of Tone of Arc's headlining performance at the newly re-opened Electric Pickle tonight to chat about the duo's musical roots, why live EDM is the future, and tonight's show.
Crossfade: We know you guys are a couple. How did Tone of Arc come together as a creative partnership? What's it like for two people who are romantically involved to also be artistic and professional partners? Does the personal chemistry cross over into the creative?
Derrick Boyd: One day I found a dirty little secret that Zoe was keeping from the world: she was a closet singer. As soon as I found out, I got so exited about what we can do together. I told her right away that she is the missing element that would balance my work out and take away the focus on one man.
From there it has been a big challenge on both sides to learn how to use each other to get what we want, and feel like it's quality production. Our love is caked over this album sparingly but evenly. Apparently, when we sing together, our chemistry hits home for our fans. That being said we are so close to each other and it's our routine, not pushing it for theatrics. But theatrics are the future. I'm getting bored all the time via A.D.D. I call it A.D.O., Attention Deficit Order. No diss.
You've been writing and producing music for years, and have even boasted of having some 200 unreleased tracks under your belt. Why the sudden success in 2012? Was bringing Zoe into the fold and adding the female ying to your male yang, so to speak, the needed ingredient for success?
I'm constantly remembering songs and tracks I have written and forgot about or lost. I've burned through countless hard drives and computers, losing years of work. I used to average about 50 songs a year. I have over 200 songs that haven't been lost. Success really shifted at BPM in Playa Del Carmen 2012, at the No.19 party, accompanied by a name change from Dead Seal to Tone of Arc.
It then doubled the second time this year. This success was all in efforts of my team and No.19. and Jonny White. You can't do it alone. Bringing Zoe into my production was the most important thing I ever did. There needs to be balance of male and female for a perfect song, in my opinion. It's a formula that is hard to deny.
San Francisco has long been home to a vibrant underground electronic dance music scene and fiercely independent acts like Dubtribe Sound System, Doc Martin and Hardkiss. How has the scene there shaped you as artists? Is there anything inherently San Franciscoan in Tone of Arc's sound and aesthetic?
Tone of Arc is all-San Francisco. Old-school underground legends that still rock today, like the Sunset Crew, AKA Solar, Galen, Tasho, and others like M3 and Lance DeSardi were huge impacts on my music production and DJing. After 10 years of living there, it's impossible not to pick up the magic sprinkles people leave on the walls.
It was very difficult to carve a place in the music scene there. It's very crowded and locals don't get paid unless you are a legend. The undergrounds are snuffed out, and it seems like all my friends are flying from the nest or have already flown. PillowTalk, Safeword, Alland Byallo, Navid Izadi, all my best friends have grown successfully in the world because we all had each other to learn from.
S.F. Is my home though and I'm not living in it but right outside of it in the woods. It's my nest where we keep my heart. Zoe was following [DJs] Jenö and Garth in the early '90s, which predates my techno days by a few years.