There’s not much that hasn’t been said about The Big Apple.
From its food, to its people, to its skyscrapers, everyone wants to put in their two cents on arguably the most popular city in the world. However, no one has described it quite like Alicia Keys in “Empire State of Mind”: “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of . . .” This statement couldn’t be more true for New York native and dark pop protege D’Arcy.
Following the success of her debut EP that dominated college radio in 2021, D’Arcy decided to come back swinging with her newest double-sided single, “Dancing In The Dark / Kill For Love.” These cover tracks show off D’Arcy’s moody vocals and her ability to set a scene and an ambience for her audience. Her sultry vocals float over her Springsteen cover in “Dancing in the Dark” with ease, and her haunting melody is sure to get stuck in your head. The first track fades perfectly into her version of the Chromatics’ “Kill for Love”, with its quicker tempo highlighting the performance of D’Arcy’s band.
Despite everyone having a “secret to hide”, D’Arcy gets up close and personal in her interview with us here at Music Mecca. Find out more about New York’s emerging dark pop princess.
So how might you describe your music and style to someone wondering what D’Arcy is all about?
I tend to avoid labels, but “alternative” feels like a nice all-encompassing term. There is definitely a darker edge to a lot of the music. My main instrument is piano, so a lot of the songs are very synthesizer/keyboard based.
Who or what are some of your primary influences on your musical direction?
It changes a lot. Always FKA Twigs and Grimes and Fiona Apple. Recently I’ve been really into Cigarettes After Sex and Beach House, which definitely has influenced my live performances and some new songs I’ve been writing. Also Alice In Chains, Mazzy Star. I kind of go through obsessions and phases with different artists and specific songs. I did a deep dive into The Beach Boys’ old records a few weeks ago. Even more recently it has been Eminem and also some classical music. I also really love techno music and used to DJ techno and house quite a bit, so that remains an influence and passion of mine. Sort of an eclectic mix.
I see you’ve got your new double single, “Dancing in the Dark” / “Kill For Love” out now. What prompted you to release these songs this way? How do they correlate?
I recorded “Kill for Love” a little while ago, before tour. As I was preparing for tour last summer, I thought it would be good to include a cover of a song everyone knows in my set. That’s where “Dancing in the Dark” came into the picture, and then I ended up recording it in the studio after tour was finished. Both the covers are kind of a similar vibe, so we decided to put them out as a double release.
Can you elaborate more on the backstory and inspiration behind each track?
I recorded both “Dancing in the Dark” and “Kill For Love” with my friend J.C. Santalis at Raw Recording studios in Upstate New York. He is an amazing producer and engineer and we have been working together on and off for about 8 years. For this project, I wanted to take songs written by other artists that I loved and find a different way to present them. Both the Springsteen and the Chromatics song have incredible lyrics that have always really moved me, but I always found the production to be a bit too fast paced. Since the lyrics are so brilliant, I wanted to record the songs a bit slower to allow the lyrical content to really shine and see if I can put my own spin on each song.
From what we gather, it appears there is a full-length album in the works. Could you give us a sneak peek as to what fans might expect from it?
Yes! Some of the tracks I have already released like “Lover” and “Moon” which will likely make their way onto the album. There is a lot of new material, and a lot of material I have been sitting on and waiting to release for a while, so I’m super excited to get it all out there. I produced and released my first full-length album 10 years ago (under a different name), and I feel like I have inadvertently been working on this forthcoming album since then. The record feels like a culmination of the past decade of life experience, heartbreak, pain and joy. One of the songs I wrote after a very painful breakup I experienced when I was 19, but it still feels like it applies to more recent events in my life. I’m really excited about the record because I’ve been working very hard on it and definitely put in the hours, so I will be able to say when it is done, that these songs are the very best I have written in the past decade.
It was very important to me that I wrote all of the songs on the album myself, and I also produced half of the album myself, which was a really fun and an exciting step. Sonically, the album definitely feels a bit different than my first EP. There are a lot more acoustic guitar and live drum moments, but also the same electronic elements present in more recent releases. I think that sonically, “Dancing in the Dark / Kill For Love” kind of moves us into the direction of the album a bit more.
Which song – released or upcoming – are you most excited to perform live?
I have a song coming out in about 6 weeks called “Crazy” that I am very excited to play live. At this point I’ve probably played it a hundred times in the past few months, but I never get sick of it somehow. I think that’s because it doesn’t feel stagnant – it feels like it keeps getting better, and the more I play it, the more I uncover new things about it that I can do differently or improve when I perform it live. I have another song on the album called “Delirium” that I would love to play live, but it would probably require like 5 guitar players and a million pedals to do it justice. It’s a pretty wild song. Hopefully we’ll get there.
If there’s anything I know about artists and songwriters, it’s that every one of them is affected by the world around them. How does living and working in New York influence your music?
I grew up in New York City, but recently I moved to a small town in upstate New York. I love being in the city, but if I spend too much time in NYC I find it very hard to be creative because my thoughts are always getting interrupted by the mania of the city. Now, in the country, I get to spend a lot of time in nature and not a lot of time around groups of people, which has been wonderful and very inspiring. It is much easier for me to create work out of the chaos. I love being in LA and other more relaxed cities for a similar reason. NYC is a special brand of busy.
Getting out of your routine/comfort zone can just as easily influence your music as well. What was it like to be on the road for your 40-city tour? What were some highlights/lowlights?
Totally! Tour was amazing. The cool thing about tour is, the lowlights were also the highlights, because something that feels really challenging in the moment turns out to be a great story and learning experience. Shit happens on the road that you don’t expect and you just have to roll with it. For instance, during soundcheck before the second show I played in Denver, which was for about 200 people, my synthesizer broke. It was just me and my synthesizer on stage, no other musicians or instruments, and here I am trying to play the synth and no sound is coming out. But I didn’t panic, I just took a deep breath, and luckily the venue had another keyboard I could use for the show, and we went to a music shop the next day for repair. I wanted it all to go perfectly, and of course that’s just not how life works. So all those little moments were very influential and taught me how to show up and do my best no matter what else is going on.
There were also things like having to drive 400 miles on only 2 hours of sleep. I remember playing my first ever festival and everyone’s tripping on shrooms and walking around without shoes on, and I’m just trying not to throw up because I’m so nervous and sleep deprived. But even then, the second I started to play music, I felt instantaneously better. I tried being fully vegan the whole time I was on tour. I’ll never do that again. I think to be healthy and vegan you have to do a lot of cooking, which is really hard to do when you’re on the road with no access to a kitchen. I did bring a cooler with me and had all these vegan meats and sauerkraut for sandwiches, but at some point like a week in, the sauerkraut spilled all over the cooler and created this horrifying smell. So eventualy I was like, fuck this, and left the cooler on top of a trash can at a Holiday Inn in Nebraska.
I was definitely hugely influenced by playing my songs live with my synthesizer. It introduced me to this whole new soundscape which was really exciting, and the synthesizer (Prophet Rev2) has been a huge inspiration and push forward for me as an artist. Playing the songs live really helped me see myself in a different way and start to create some new synthesizer based music which has been really exciting.
What does success mean to you as an artist? As a person?
Success to me is being proud of my work, no matter how it is received. The allure of having a song blow up is a seductive thing, and I’ve definitely found myself trying to make hit songs. But the problem is, if it doesn’t pan out the way I am hoping, then I am left with music that I’m not necessarily proud of. So, I really try and focus on making the best work I can possibly make, so regardless of what happens, I can stand by the work and be proud of it. Of course I really want the music to be heard and have a chance to get out there. But, for me, success is not marked by followers or streams or awards. True success is committing to my best work and my best self regardless of how it is received by others.
Can you fill us in on any other goals and objectives we can expect from D’Arcy in 2022?
I have written a movie that I am hoping to move forward with this year. I will also be releasing my full length album later this year, and a lot more singles, both originals and covers, in the meantime. I recently shot a music video with Mynxii White, who is an amazing director, and I’m super excited to share that soon. I’ll definitely be playing more shows in the coming months as well. Hope to see you there!