Listen to Dan Deacon's Ska & Crate Digging-Inspired #TBT Mixtape

Dan Deacon
Frank Hamilton

Dan Deacon

Welcome to #TBT Mixtape, Billboard's series that showcases artists' very own throwback-themed playlists exclusive to Billboard's Spotify account. The curated set features the artists' favorite tracks from their youth and childhood.

This week’s edition comes from Dan Deacon. The Baltimore electronic musician/composer has released five studio albums to date, including 2007's Spiderman of the Rings, 2009's Bromst, 2012's America and 2015’s Gliss Riffer, which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart.

On Friday, Deacon will release his latest effort, Mystic Familiar, via Domino. The set includes previously released singles "Sat by a Tree" and "Become a Mountain," the latter of which showcases his natural singing voice for the first time. The album chronicles his own odyssey toward mindfulness and embracing the "inner well of creativity" discussed in David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.

Across two decades, Deacon's indie stardom has earned him many high-profile fans-turned-collaborators, including Miley Cyrus, Arcade Fire, The Flaming Lips, Future Islands, Deerhunter and more. He's also developed a career as a film composer, with recent credits including 2011's Twixt, from Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola, 2016's Rat Film, 2018's Time Trial, 2019's Well Groomed and others.

Ahead of his album launch, Deacon put together this week's #TBT Mixtape to spotlight the songs and artists that first captivated him growing up. Titled “Junior High to High School,” the set includes tracks from Mr. Bungles, They Might Be Giants, Violent Femmes and others.

“I'm not sure how this playlist will be for anyone else, but making it felt like opening a time capsule for me,” says Deacon. “I had a lot of fun compiling it and thinking about the murky meandering path that led me down a string of influences that formed my music brain as a student.”

Give the playlist a spin and check out Deacon’s personal reflection about the set (and some throwback pictures) below!

“So this might come as a huge shock to all but I was a pretty big nerd growing up. The first music that I latched onto in my youth that helped shaped my identity was ska. Ska was fun, stupid and perhaps the least sexy music on the planet. It was perfect for overweight awkward dork teenage me. A great record store within a bike rides distance from my house, called "Looney Tunes" had a great ska section as well as a really big used and 99 cent bin of promo CDs that they probably shouldn't have been selling. One band in particular that I discovered in the used/promo bin was They Might Be Giants. 

"I quickly fell in love with TMBG I tried to find other bands in that vein of alt-alt-rock and found the Violent Femmes, Morphine and many others that I grew to love. But I don't think any band changed the path of my music collection and maybe my direction in life more than Mr. Bungle. Mr. Bungle was unlike anything I had ever heard. I was still into Aerosmith the I first heard Mr. Bungle and I might still like Aerosmith if it wasn't for Mr. Bungle. It was a complete paradigm shift for me. Their music advanced my need to discover more music that was as far from mainstream music as I could find.  

"Everything opened up and music became an infinite place of discovery for me as a freshman at SUNY Purchase, in the 25 cent bin of the library, I found a used Stockhausen LP for $1. I became obsessed with avant-garde and experimental music of the 20th century, eventually being influenced the most heavily by Fluxus and the American minimalists. 

"It's important to remember music used to be really difficult to find, and I hated that. So when Napster, Kazaa, and especially eMusic came out, I started downloading as much as I could trying to take in everything I could possibly find. Anything that sparked interest would become another point for diving off to try to find more music like it. Load Records had their entire catalog at the time on eMusic and I devoured it. The music coming out of Providence, RI during this period was a major influence on me. it was both fun and challenging and ticked all the boxes for me.”

Catch Dan Deacon on tour dates through April.





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