DVRKO ain’t your ordinary artist. Then again, we are living in extraordinary times. A quick glance at his social media presence — an intriguing mix of obscured images, cryptic messages and one masked, mysterious man — unveils little about the person, or “thing,” behind DVRKO. But it’s just enough to whet the appetite and keep you digging for more.
Of course, masked DJs and producers are nothing new in EDM. Everyone from Daft Punk to Marshmello have donned elaborate helmets and attention-grabbing masks to conceal their faces from the masses. But where other electronic artists simply hide in obscurity, DVRKO thrives in the mystery. His backstory, however, tells another story.
Although he hasn’t made public appearances, Billboard connected with DVRKO over email to learn more about his backstory. According to him, he hails from a post-apocalyptic civilization in the not-too-distant future, DVRKO roams the earth as a bedouin, outcasted from society for his wild past and naughty behavior. He uses pirated technology and his futuristic music as his only tools to communicate with the world, a fitting combination to match our current pandemic-induced “doomsday” scenario.
“Some consider me an outlaw, and some think I’m the Second Coming,” he cryptically explains.
While new to the scene, DVRKO is already turning heads. Earlier this month, he dropped “This Is How,” his first debut single. A deep, melodic, sexy house track, released on DVRKO’s own L1N3 Records and featuring emotive vocals from U.K. singer-songwriter Sarah De Warren, the track chronicles the toxic relationships that are impossible to escape.
“This Is How” is the first, and perhaps clearest, clue to the enigma behind DVRKO, for now at least; he’s already got projects in queue waiting to be unleashed. But, like he explains, the mystery is all part of the magic behind DVRKO.
“If I have to explain, you’re not paying attention,” he says. “Take the trip, crack the code: journey’s worth it. But look, at its core, my message is simple: love and respect mother earth, and your mothers, your brothers and your sisters. I promise you, it won’t suck.”
Billboard chatted with DVRKO about his secret identity, the inspiration behind his debut track and the (doomed) future of our planet.
Your website and all your social media channels ask a very important question: “Who is DVRKO?” So, what’s your story?
Story? Like a book? Dude, my life is a mixtape, not a graphic novel. But if you want the beats: celebrity and excess; love and loss. Then there was “that thing” that happened — sorry, “happens.” Forgot when I was. Nothing you can do about it, it’s coming for all of us. Yeah, my “story’s” dark. I’m a reflection of my time.
Right, so that seems to confirm the word on the street that you’re actually from the not-too-distant future. Tell us, what’s life like in the future? Are we in a better or worse place than we are now as a society?
The easy questions, huh? Well, if you think sh*t’s messed up now, fast-forward: It gets a whole lot worse. Will it get better? I’m working on some things, I’ll need to get back to you on that.
I’m told you actually came from a post-apocalyptic version of Earth. It feels like we’re nearing our own apocalypse now with the current pandemic. Tell us: Will we survive this pandemic as a society? And will there be music or a light at the end of the tunnel?
The good news? This pandemic ain’t no pussycat, but it gets declawed.
And the bad news?
The next one leaves deeper gashes.
You use music “in times of extreme global tribulation.” That sounds like the perfect description for our current global state during this pandemic. In what ways are you using music and art to cope with these difficult times?
A very important lady once told me I was using my art as a shield when I should be using it as a weapon. It took some sinking in, but she was right. Now I’m locked and loaded, shot heard ’round the world, et cetera. Have turntable, will travel.
In the same vein, what can music fans do now to ease their fears and anxieties during this unprecedented pandemic? Can your music help people get through this challenging era?
Sure, my music can — if it speaks to you. My beats come from this place right here. Only “pre-fab” sh*t connects with EVERYone. Do I look “lowest common denominator” to you? If you feel my beat, we are connected.
Electronic music has birthed many mystery producers across all its various genres, with everyone from Daft Punk to Marshmello to Claptone hiding behind masks. Why did you choose to follow this path? Why is it important for you to keep your identity a secret?
You’re assuming this is a mask? Like it’s a choice? Look, I like to keep a cool head, but I’ve done some craaazy sh*t. Some consider me an outlaw, and some think I’m the Second Coming. Either way, it’s not the kind of attention I’m seeking.
Your Facebook page lists a range of diverse electronic artists, from NERO and Skrillex to Justice and Kill The Noise. Are those some of your inspirations?
My forebears: I bow before the masters. I hope to do them proud. “Next level” proud, “keep the flame alive” proud. Let music scorch this earth, not “man.”
What is the inspiration behind your debut song, “This Is How”? And what does the song mean?
Personal sh*t from meat grinder relationships, where even though I was looking for the nearest exit, scabs already fused us back together. Oozing pus and still fighting.
Tell us more about Sarah De Warren, the singer featured on “This Is How.”
Sarah is a lovely and talented artist. Our collaboration on this track was pure joy. I plan on working with her much in the future — your future, next time I visit. Sarah brought a soft, well-ranged and tender tone, which I think reflects what I’m about. You know, when I’m not being a bad boy.
Now that your music is out in the world, what are you working on these days?
I’d tell you, but it’d have to be in private. Somewhere deserted. And you might not come out alive.
After hearing your music, what do you want people to understand or know about DVRKO and your art?
If I have to explain, you’re not paying attention. Take the trip, crack the code: journey’s worth it. But look, at its core, my message is simple: love and respect mother earth, and your mothers, your brothers and your sisters. I promise you, it won’t suck.