photos and words by Shannon Claire
Last we heard from Darren Keen, he was breaking up his one-man act, The Show is the Rainbow, and following his heart to a new, yet familiar sound as Touch People. Just wrapping up on his mid-summer tour with Yip-Yip, an analog electronic duo from Orlando, Darren sheds some light on his new relationship — one that he may have wanted to pursue when he was younger, but didn't quite know how until now.
Last time we talked, The Show is the Rainbow just broke up with yourself. How are you doing after the break up? Have you moved on?
I feel great. It was time. I'm really happy to just be focusing on one project now, and I'm really proud of what I'm doing with Touch People.
How did the tour with Yip-Yip come together? When was the last time Touch People toured? Any other TP tours this year?
Me and the yips used to tour together a lot with TSITR. We just wanted to get together again, and do a fun, DIY tour. I am going to be doing lots of touring soon hopefully, including a string of shows with my old friend The Heligoats around Lincoln Calling time.
How has Touch People evolved? Are you planning on keeping it as a solo project?
TP started as a directionless producer/recording project, and has become a full-on, live, electonic prog rock band. I would like to keep composing and recording alone, but I'd like to expand the live show by becoming a duo or trio.
Who are some artists with whom you would like to collaborate?
Jesse Hodges from Somasphere. Jim Schroeder. Todd Fink. Benton Alexander. Travis Blac. Dapose. Dustin Bushon.
You have been very vocal about your strengths and struggles as a musician — what have you learned that you'll apply with Touch People?
To stop showing off and to be myself. To let my music and musicianship speak for me.
Who would you like to tour with, locally or nationally?
The Faint. Delicate Steve. Battles. Pictureplane. !!!. Machinedrum. Cursive. Fuschia Minutae. Max Tundra. Girl Talk. Talking Mountain. Mr Oizo.
What local artists/ bands inspire you?
I'm mostly influenced by minimalist modern classical, and by warp records esque electronic music. The local peeps that inspire me are UUVVWWZ, Cursive, Luke Polipnik and Green Trees.
Where does Bad Speler fit into this relationship?
Bad Speler has been swallowed by Touch People. I now perform those songs, and other new songs in the same style, as "Touch People DJ set." With the TP live set, I bring amps and synths and play bass and sing, while using my Akai Apc 40 to manipulate the tracks. During the DJ sets, I just use a controller, andd the music is more club-oriented.
Do you see this new relationship with Touch People working out? What's the message you are trying to share with your audience?
I think it has as good of a shot as any other band, and so I'm just really excited to be playing in a band that is expressing the things I want to be expressing right now ... uhhh, was that convoluted?
At the most recent Touch People performance at the Bourbon on July 21, when the tour hopped through town, I could see the project's progressive romance diligently thought-out and executed. It's just like a mature relationship — where you know from past experiences what to say, how to say it, and most of all what to expect from it. You can definitely feel the manage a trois that comes from Bad Speler being thrown into the mixing bed, with new, well-produced, heavily infectious beats and physical instruments like an electric bass incorporated into the live set.