Deliluh interview: “The Slint comparison has come up a lot and is still strange to us”

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Deliluh

With their impressive new album just released alongside this week’s UK tour, Getintothis’ Simon Kirk talks to Tornto art-punks, Deliluh.

In the realm of new music, Toronto’s Deliluh are one of the great finds of 2019.

Many have been waxing lyrical about the likes of Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital. Some believe in the hype while others say it’s contrived nonsense. We’ll let you be the judge, but generally the truth lies somewhere between. If one ventures down the rabbit hole beyond the shallow terrains of BBC 6 Music, there’s a plethora of talent which inhabits these warrens.

Deliluh are most certainly among this creative residency.

Hailing from the Toronto DIY scene, the four piece – consisting of Kyle Knapp (vocals, guitar), Jude (bass, synth), Julius (guitar, synth), Erika (drums, violin) – self-released their debut album, Day Catcher, which was later reissued by the Hand Drawn Dracula label last year.

Day Catcher can be defined as a spiky assortment of unvarnished art-punk and an album that certainly sparks attention.

Following Day Catcher and the band released the Oath of Intent EP earlier this year. A five song twenty-eight minute collection of eerie numbers that brush past the ghost of 90s post-hardcore.

Continuing the ascent towards the apex of their creative arc, we are summoned by Deliuh with their new opus, Beneath the Floors, released via Tin Angel Records last Friday. In summary, it’s their most accomplished work yet.

Beneath the Floors brims with the good oil. Motorik avant-garde rhythms, angular grooves which pulsate the senses and a creeping paranoia brought upon by rattling strings, anxious saxophones and whirring riffs.

Then there’s Knapp, who parts with a tale spinning quality as good as any of his young contemporaries.

The remnants of Beneath the Floors rests on the surface of your skin, slowly seeping into the pores. Ten songs full of elusive dimensions and hidden depths which are designed for quiet spaces and a good set of head phones.

With the band set to tour the UK for the second time this year, we had a chance to chat to the brains behind Deliuh, Kyle Knapp.

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Getintothis: First off, can you tell us a little bit about Deliluh? You guys seem quite elusive (which is a good thing!) How did you the band take shape?

Kyle Knapp: “Deliluh was initially the moniker I gave for a budget home recording project I began taping a number of years ago. Eventually it grew into a band with a more shared vision. We all met each other through the Toronto DIY community, playing music and going to shows.”

Getintothis: Deliluh is one of the first bands in Toronto to undertake live shows in public spaces, train stations, bakeries and veteran halls. This feels like it’s vital to the band’s DNA. Was this an intention from the band’s inception?

Kyle Knapp:“Shows in unconventional spaces have been a thing in Toronto for a long time, but I think most of the artists who make the effort to plan them are likely not trying to expand their reach out of town. Most artists who play weird spaces are doing it for fun, which is why I think we may seem like outliers to people outside of the city – the reality is it’s been going on for a while, under the radar.

“Deliluh used to play the local bar circuit when we first started performing live, but quickly found those experiences to feel stale. We started planning our own shows in spaces that were less frequented, which was more fun, and at that point there wasn’t much of a reason to play live other than to have a good time.

“It soon became apparent that the audience appreciated the effort as much as we were enjoying the change, so we’ve kept doing it and still try to make gigs like that work at home when we can.”

Deliluh

Getintothis: Your first album, Day Catcher, was released last year, and the Oath of Intent EP earlier this year – that’s quite an achievement to get Beneath the Floors out before this year’s end. Do you generally work this quickly or has it just worked out that way?

Kyle Knapp: “I think we wrote and documented a lot in that time period because it’s what we like to do. We’re more interested in creating music and exploring new ideas than anything else. Touring has definitely picked up for us in the last year or so, but we still prioritise being creative over our visibility as a band.”

Getintothis: Can you tell us a bit about the making of Beneath the Floors?

Kyle Knapp:We recorded Beneath The Floors under the gun because of a looming possibility that Julius might be forced out of the country. He’s from Denmark and we were waiting on his visa extension to get approved – we had no idea if it would pan out, so we decided to record with the time he had left.

“About half of the album was written a few weeks before the session, and the rest had been work-shopped while we were self-releasing Day Catcher. In the end, Julius got the extension, which resulted in us writing and recording more material such as Oath Of Intent.”

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Getintothis: From Day Catcher to Beneath the Floors, there seems to be quite a shift in your sound – namely the introduction of strings, saxophones, pianos. Was this a conscious decision to sonically expand so fast? 

Kyle Knapp: “Not a conscious decision, and I’m not sure I see it as expanding, either. A lot of the songs on Day Catcher were composed in an earlier iteration of the project that only consisted of myself and a cellist. By the time it got to recording the first record, we had a full band and worked out the songs with new arrangements. So those elements of strings, synths, etc. have always been tools that we’ve used and that we still enjoy experimenting with.

Beneath the Floors and Oath Of Intent have different vibes, but I don’t think that’s a result of the instrumentation as much as the overall vision of the band for those albums. As an example, Jude (bass, synth) joined the band full time shortly after Beneath the Floors, which gave Oath of Intent a different edge.”

Getintothis: Obviously the spoken word nature of Deliuh will draw comparisons to the likes of Slint, but with Beneath the Floors, there feels like more of spiky avant-garde quality to it. It feels like each band member has a vast array of influences. Would that be accurate in saying?

KK: “Yes, all of us come from very different musical backgrounds with our own influences, which has probably granted us some depth as a group. The Slint comparison has come up a lot and is still strange to us though – I’m the only one in the band who was familiar with them before these records were tracked.

I think we’re just being ourselves on the recordings, and if it sounds sonically like something else, it’s likely subliminal or just a coincidence.”

Deliluh

Getintothis: There’s a good mix of faster paced songs such as Licksputtle: A Nut in the Paste and Con Art Inc, to slower tracks like Hymn and Via 5A. You’ve captured an electric range of sounds which is a good representation of Deliluh. Was that something you were conscious about before making the album?

Kyle Knapp: “I think we were conscious of the fact that there was a mixed bag of songs, but that’s just what we had. It wasn’t a preconceived effort to diversify.

“We like all kinds of music and it’s more rewarding to write in different moods. We’re also getting better at writing songs with different instruments carrying the theme. For our first album, pretty much all of the songs were written on guitar, but now that’s changed and other instruments are taking turns setting the tone and carrying more weight.”

Getintothis: The Hangman’s Keep and Master Keys both feel like the centre-pieces to the album, bringing to life all the elements of Deliluh’s sound. Can you elaborate on these two tracks?

Hangman’s Keep is a ballad I wrote on piano, and I feel like a lot of its eeriness comes from the others writing their own accompanying parts. The lyrics describe three different characters all facing their own respective crises: a young heroin addict, a drought stricken farmer, and a suicidal inmate. Pretty bleak… Erika’s violin line is a highlight for me on that one – she has a knack for that kind of thing.

Master Keys is about a security guard who’s terrified of his job, constantly looking over his shoulder in fear. After recording the song, I took some Dictaphone cassette audio that I had kept from street interviews my friend conducted for an unrelated web series, and slid a bunch of it under the mix. You can faintly hear people coming in and out, and it seems to add a sense of paranoia to the song.

“Both of the tracks sound like they fit somewhere between rock and balladry to me, and it felt right placing them in the middle of the record.”

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Getintothis: The title track is a lovely way to end the album. Was the track listing important to maintain the right balance for the album?

Kyle Knapp:“Yes, the track listing is definitely an important part for us. I think it must be for most bands, but this record especially has lots of variety, so we tried to be methodical.

“The title track is also meant to reconnect with the narrative of the protagonist in the album opener, Incantessa. The tracklisting allowed us to come full circle with his storyline.”

Getintothis: When referencing Toronto, I think of bands like Broken Social Scene that put the city’s music landscape on the global map. Then later, perhaps a band like Fucked Up continued this. While Deliluh operates in more of a DIY sense, from a local perspective did it feel like these two bands opened up a pathway for wider audiences?

Kyle Knapp: “Hard to say. On one hand, I think some of the things Fucked Up have done on home soil have definitely helped give an outlet to a new generation of musicians – the prime example being their involvement with a concert series called Long Winter. It’s been going steady for a number of years and is one of the only all-ages series in the city giving opportunities to young local talent.

“But as a musician who grew up in Toronto, I honestly feel that many of the artists championed from my hometown aren’t representative of what makes the city a unique hotbed for creativity. There’s an advantage that ‘safe’ music gets from the Canadian music industry that tips the scales away from progressive and highly original artists.

“It’s hard to pin the blame on anyone, with resources dwindling all around us, but I also think the grant system in Canada not only favours a lot of old-hat music in Toronto, but in the same stroke it’s tightened the already tiny window of exposure that new artists with unique ideas barely expect to receive.

“Recently though, there are examples of electronic acts like E-Saggila and Korea Town Acid that have managed to break out internationally, and that gives me a lot of hope for the Toronto underground.”

Deliluh – Beneath the Floors

Getintothis: Greys are another Toronto band who have released an album this year. Have you had any involvement with them as far as playing shows together goes?

Kyle Knapp: “We know the guys from Greys, but haven’t played a show with them. One of their members however, Colin R. Gillespie, is an ambient musician who once performed his own project at my apartment. Jude and I were talking the other day about how great his set was that night – super talented guy.”

Getintothis: What are you expecting from your forthcoming visit to the UK? You must be excited to play these new songs live?

Kyle Knapp:“This will actually be our second run in the UK, we made the trip over in May.

“[We’re] looking forward to it. We’ll be playing a mix from all three records, given we’re still pretty new in those parts. It’ll be nice to visit some old friends and make new ones along the way.”

Deliuh UK tour dates:

  • Friday, November 22: Lanes, Bristol
  • Saturday, November 23: JT Soar, Nottingham
  • Sunday, November 24: Yes Basement, Manchester
  • Monday, November 25: Tyne Bar, Newcastle
  • Tuesday, November 26: Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
  • Wednesday, November 27: Peckham Audio, London

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