Dea Decay: a Digital Delight

If you’ve never heard of Dea Decay, today’s the day to change that! Also known as Dea Siculus, she’s a Florida-based electronic/synthwave artist and streamer. Her Bandcamp page currently contains two albums: December 2020’s Magic Lantern (which was briefly and previously touched on here) and June 2021’s Evolutionary Anachronism. Magic Lantern is a sample-packed more experimental album. It’s highly engaging, and every one of my listens through it seemed to go by so quickly. Try to keep pace with it! Evolutionary Anachronism, meanwhile, is a deep delve into the world of cyberpunk. It’s equally as intense as the previous album, but in an altogether different way. It’s cinematic. It’s escapist. I play the Cyberpunk 2020 role-play game in my free time, and immediately sent this album to my friends. It’s that kind of music. Let it be the soundtrack to your cyber fantasy.

Now, back to Dea as an artist. I had the pleasure to interview her recently, and here are the results from that.

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To start off- how’d you get into making music?

Well about 2 years and 6 months ago I got my first synthesizer. I had only just learned what they were (kind of) and decided I’d get one. After messing around for awhile of just making sounds with it I decided to start making songs.

What was your first synth?

It was a Korg Monologue. I had played keyboards before and just thought synths were a fancy term for keyboards until shortly before then.

But I didn’t even get a synth with the plans of making my own music just thought it would be fun to make my own sounds and continue to do sheet music. But in trying to learn more about synths and creating sounds, I found people made music on their computers and could make whole songs on there. I can not stress out incredible unaware of how any of this worked before 2019.

What are a few of your music inspirations?

Well Blade Runner 2049 and Mad Max Fury Road were the initial spark of inspiration. From there Andrew Huang and Sam aka Look Mum No Computer and Hainbach among many other YouTubers. I mention those 3 specifically because things like Andrew Huang’s 4 Producers 1 Sample really opened my eyes to viewing all sounds as potential sources of inspiration and got me into musique concrète. Hainbach (and Andrew) for the absolutely massive world of strange equipment that is out there and processes one could incorporate to make music, and Sam for his sheer DIY attitude and combining musical skill with engineering.

When it came to making songs, I’d say I probably draw a lot of inspiration and influence from Ada Rook and Devi McCallion and their many bands/projects because seeing 2 trans women around my own age making incredible music that really reached me. Other artists have had that impact too but I learned about them at a pretty critical time.

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How has your musical style and technique grown over these past years of synth ownership?

These 2 and a half years have been incredible in terms of the amount of stuff I learned. I mean that’s not hard starting at a point of 0 knowledge in synth and music production knowledge. But initially I wasn’t really interested in writing my own music. Even when I joined a band I was kind of hoping they would just tell me what to play. I came from a background of playing sheet music and being completely unable to play anything by ear, or really notice if things were out of tune. So the initial change was with my band being able to try to play things which accompanied what they were doing without them telling me what notes to play when because they were not looking for that. They also decided I’d have to play drum machines when I was REALLY hoping we’d get a drummer, so I went out and bought an Electribe. The Electribe 2 was fundamental to me starting to learning to make beats on my own and eventually develop melodies and other stuff to go with it instead of just relying on me playing something I felt would go along with what my guitarist and bass player had come up with.

Then Covid prevented us from meeting and I continued to dedicate myself to just making my own songs, and I really just kept running with it. In terms of big changes I do more on the computer now than hardware (but still enjoy using hardware equipment) and it often begins with me just trying to make a beat that sounds good to me and growing it from there.

Have you grown your synth collection?

My synth collection has grown from that first Korg Monologue to a Behringer Deepmind 12, a Korg Electribe 2, a Elektron Digitakt, an Arturia Drumbrute, a Dreadbox Erebus v.3, a Ciat-Lonbarde Tocante Phashi (Company, Instrument, Model), a few Pocket Operators including the PO 33 “KO”, the PO 20 “Arcade” and the PO 24 “Office.”

I recently returned a Erica Synths DB-01 “Bassline” due to it having some damage (not sure if I’ll re-buy but liked it well enough and recorded a ton of samples with) and I had briefly a Korg Volca Sample and Bass which I had sold to buy the Electribe.

So, onto questions about your music itself. I’ve noticed you use samples a lot, such as in Magic Lantern’s title track, “Catronica. Is there a certain method you have for selecting them? Or anything on the thought process there, finding them, etc.

So Magic Lantern apart from Chain Chop the theme was cartoons and video games, hence the title being a reference to Magic Lantern Projectors which one of the cartoon charters I had commissioned is operating on the cover. After I had 2 songs using samples from cartoons I decided on doing an EP toward it and drew inspiration from the punk compilation “Saturday Morning: Cartoons Greatest Hits” so those were specifically cartoon/anime driven.

Other songs like The Man Who Murdered Time and Suspense I had taken from an old Radio Drama site and used them specifically because they were copyright free

My most recent song using Samples Bite the Bullet (on Evolutionary Anachronism) I was literally putting stuff together for my students about surreal or absurdist politicians and while listening to Vermin Supreme was inspired to make a track out of it.

That said vocal samples are not the only samples I use. Chain Chop is called Chain Chop because the drums are noises from a bicycle chain run through distortion.

“No Use for Men” also features actual whip cracks which I took from some YouTuber demonstrating how to do different whip techniques for competitions for like… cowboy stuff.

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Next question- what would you say are the key themes driving behind your art?

This is tough. I don’t really set out with goals in mind usually unless I’m trying to learn how to do something (like with my most recent un-named synthpop song). Making music has become my hobby and I often approach a song from a pretty blank space and just start doing and get inspired from there. That said my first EP certainly had themes and meaning behind it but those only came about after making Catronica (which was simply my love of Catra from She-Ra).

The themes there became in “No Use for Men” the very bluntly stated in the samples process of two people coming out as trans with the main “character” coming out as a trans woman. Which isn’t exactly the context for those quotes in a show as it had more to do with possession? if that is the right term for it but the samples lended themselves to coming out as a trans woman.

Robot Body again rather bluntly is about wishing you had another body, in that case the main character wanting to be a robot woman. That song ends on the question about being in a sexual relationship with a robot (or really more cyborg but they use the term robot) and that becomes the theme of the final song.

Its not to say my other work doesn’t have meaning or themes but honestly its more more staring at a blank musical canvas and wanting to convey emotions. I mean less wanting and more that just happening as I develop the song, they’re very atmospheric and can fit or shape peoples moods.

So, you also do streams. Tell me a little bit about that.

Well the most frequent one is certainly my DJ sets Electronic Waste. Despite the name its not entirely electronic music but a lot of music on it is. I was watching my friend Heather Hz stream a lot of DnB and she told me about the controller she used and her process and was really encouraging so I figured I’d give it a shot. It happened to be around the time of my first EP came out and I figured if nothing else I could use that time to promote my album pretty shamelessly. It is a pretty genre fluid show and breaks down largely into 3 segments, the first being just one song into the next, often times friends of the show (especially Headless Blood Idol the art/music collective I’m in) but also just music that has spoken to me including new stuff I picked up that week. Then there’s a local segment that is normally Florida only artists though I did split between FL and Georgia recently and the third segment is me actually mixing music together, like 2 or more songs overlapping trying to create new rhythms and get new sensations out of those tracks.

Apart from that I often stream things on music production or me playing around with synths I have, and sometimes I stream video games though I’ve been doing that less as currently I’m really into Cyberpunk which does not stream well and most sites I see suggest using 2 computers in the stream process, 1 to play the game and another to run the stream so that the processor of the better computer can just focus on the game.

Got a Twitch link?

For anything that is solely me or Me and Metusynth

For the video editing and music shows they are on the Headless Blood Idol community page

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Any plans for future releases?

Yeah there will probably be a much more Piano centric album coming out later this year. It still has synth and drums but there are more piano solos (not unlike Soviet Radio)

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