Dro Carey

Dro Carey

T he terraces of leafy Lewisham are perhaps an unlikely setting from which to create dark, unearthly, discombobulating electronic music. Yet it is from a small bedroom in these surroundings that Dro Carey makes his music, track after track, so prolifically that a new song appears every week or so on his blog.

The Internet has been good to Dro Carey in that it has made his music globally accessible, however being a bedroom producer has its drawbacks. For one thing, he finds it difficult to recreate his complex and densely layered recordings in a live context.

Imbued with sadness and grit, a lot of what is written about Dro Carey’s music centres on its congruence with the UK experimental electronic scene. Speaking to Carey – real name Eugene Hector – in a quiet café near his house, though, it is clear that he pays scant regard to the view that one’s surroundings leave an indelible mark on one’s art.

“I’m always a bit mystified when someone on Twitter says, ‘how did this music come from Australia’, because as much as there’s some relation between where you live and the music you make, at the end of the day you’re not just distilling your surroundings. It’s a personal thing. Hopefully it’s coming out of nowhere.”

That’s not to say that Carey denies the impact that UK artists have had on his development. “It’s a conscious influence. When you listen to a certain genre, it will infiltrate your music. I definitely listen to more of that then Australian music.” And the affection runs both ways. In his short career, the self-effacing nineteen year old has pricked the ears of influential UK labels RAMP, Trilogy Tapes, and Hum + Buzz, all of whom have released his recordings.

When Carey mentions Burial among the UK artists that have inspired him, I ask what he thinks about that musician’s commitment to anonymity. Should artists be expected to reveal something of their character to the public? “If they make really good music it probably doesn’t matter how they handle their persona. They can be really mysterious or public and unappealing, but if they’re a genius with their recordings then people will listen to them.”

He acknowledges that he has a similarly clandestine public persona, though denies that it’s deliberate. I ask if he has ever turned down interviews or refused to be photographed. “No, none of that. I didn’t do any of that but people still thought I was mysterious for some reason. Maybe they just meant the music made them think that.”

I ask Carey if he has considered moving to London in order to be closer to the artists he admires. “Not really. In terms of what I know my strengths are, everything that I do can be delivered over the Internet. You tend to move if you’re a really brilliant DJ or a popular club DJ because you need to physically be there to perform. Whereas pretty much any other involvement in electronic music, you can basically do it via email. And since I really like Sydney a lot – there’s no career necessity.”

The Internet has been good to Dro Carey in that it has made his music globally accessible, however being a bedroom producer has its drawbacks. For one thing, he finds it difficult to recreate his complex and densely layered recordings in a live context.

The logistical complexity of live shows is not the only thing that has kept Carey from performing. He had already begun a national tour in early 2012 when he decided to pull out due to depression. It is something that Carey has dealt with for a while, and sitting across from him, all floppy-haired and sensitive, I am a bit hesitant to bring it up.

“Playing live is still something I’m figuring out a bit. If you’re someone with a lot of analogue equipment, and you know how to work an 808 and a synth and a step-sequencer then you can set them up and do a live set. [But] all the arranging and writing I do on my computer. I don’t play any of it.”

The problem is perennial in a generation for whom professional-grade sequencing software is only a few hundred dollars or a cheeky download away. To construct elaborate music is easier than ever; to reproduce it in real time without automating everything remains a challenge.

“Some people find vocalists to perform with them, or they integrate a live band, like a live drum kit, and those aren’t necessarily bad ideas, but it can still be like its compensating for the fact that they haven’t figured out how to do their stuff live. So I’m still working on that.”

The logistical complexity of live shows is not the only thing that has kept Carey from performing. He had already begun a national tour in early 2012 when he decided to pull out due to depression. It is something that Carey has dealt with for a while, and sitting across from him, all floppy-haired and sensitive, I am a bit hesitant to bring it up. Yet when I do ask him about it, he is forthcoming and generous with his response.

“Leading up to it I was feeling really confident and well prepared, and then suddenly I had this crisis, basically. And it was really difficult as well, being away from home.” I put it to Carey that he could have given the public a less personal reason for the tour’s cancellation – one that would have enabled him to keep his depression private. He seems bemused by the proposition.

“No, definitely not. I mean you should always try and tell people as much as you can about what’s going on. But particularly at that short notice, I feel there really was a responsibility to give detail, at least to some extent. Because there can be a bit of a culture in all levels of music of cancelling shows for not very good reasons, or without information, and there’s a perception of arrogance. So I try and stay away from any of that. I felt I couldn’t do anything other than explaining exactly what it was.”

When the cancellation of the tour was announced, the Sydney and Brisbane dates were turned into benefits for Beyond Blue, a national depression foundation. A suite of prominent Sydney artists agreed to perform in support of their colleague.

Melancholy seems pervasive in Carey’s life. It is what makes his music so compelling; it is why people compare him to UK artists; it is the reason that, despite his gargantuan reputation, he has only played one or two live shows. Oscar Wilde said that there is no truth comparable to sorrow, and that is why sorrow in art is beautiful. Maybe that is why people the world over who enjoy electronic music wait for each new offering from this prodigiously talented teenager with baited breath.

Honi Soit
Honi Soit is the weekly student newspaper of the University of Sydney. It has a proud reputation of being the most vibrant and prestigious student publication in Australia.