Interview

Daniel Aged Is Creating Dreamy Bliss Out of Imperfection

By Donna-Claire Chesman on May 3, 2021

Basking in sunny grooves reminiscent of his native LA, Daniel Aged’s solo work is a head trip. The musician has produced works for the likes of Frank Ocean and FKA twigs, and has had a fruitful career alongside his brother Andrew as inc. no world. Despite being a trusted collaborator, Daniel’s solo records take on their own measure of precious energy. His second LP, which follows a self-titled from 2018, You Are Protected By Silent Love, released April 30, situates the listener in the depth of a dreamy and spiritual instrumental world. The experience is so entrancing that it’s easy to forget there’s not a lick of spoken word on the album.

You Are Protected By Silent Love is not starved for language. Instead, Daniel creates his own sonic space. In particular, the bright notes of “Sub Rosa” impart a sense of floating on sun rays. The drifting quality of the work does not belie a lack of focus. Where previous entries in the Daniel Aged mythos glimmered with brilliance, Protected radiates freedom from superlatives or the idea of perfection. This is music guiding musician, and it pulses with shimmering fantasy.

“The spirit of this album is the spirit of imperfection,” Aged tells Audiomack. “That was important to me in this process. I had been thinking about the idea of perfectionism and just something I’ve had to do for myself—it’s something I’ve even glorified or thought was attainable. Thinking about the idea of perfection as not a healing force, as coming from trauma, basically. The spirit of this album is raw, and in a way, sketches that are then filled in to communicate something.”

Spacious and at times slippery, as on “Then There Was,” You Are Protected By Silent Love is a reminder that the cult scenes of Los Angeles are brimming with unprecedented life. To listen to Daniel Aged’s arrangements is to suspend belief in the material world. To indulge fully in this record is to be crystallized in enduring movements of funk, electronic, and pop. Protected takes the concept of “lush” and examines it from all angles, leaving a gorgeous 11 tracks in its wake.

Let’s start with some background. What do you count as your first official foray into music?

I started [music] when I was about 12. I started playing [upright bass] when I was 15, playing out almost professionally by the time I was 16. It’s been a long road. A lot of that was learning to play and learning the instrument. I focused on the bass for a long time. Just really working on that craft and studying harmony, jazz, gospel. Learning music and learning the language and craft... It wasn’t until my early 20s when something shifted, and I started to realize the expansiveness of music. That’s when I started understanding art more, honestly.

I started with violin, then went to bass, and that taught me so much about tone.

Yeah, I would say that. Also, the physical aspect. I was playing upright bass and working with the bow and started understanding consciousness more. Noticing the physical frequencies, too. The tone and intention of the sound. What you put into it is what’s gonna come out.

You’ve done production for Frank Ocean, and recorded with your brother, Andrew, among other people, of course. What was the overarching lesson learned from being a trusted collaborator?

Being open and being inspired. Open-mindedness, for me, is what it comes down to.

How did that lesson influence your process?

It’s much easier and more natural, for me, to collaborate. Because you have another person—especially if it’s a project under someone else’s name, it’s a lot easier. You’re serving something that’s not yourself and your own project. It’s a challenge to make music under my own name because there’s no one to tell me if they like it or not. It just comes down to if I like it, which is a process of learning. I guess it’s influenced it in a way of trying to remain inspired throughout the process of making.

When I was making this[You Are Protected By Silent Love], I’d open up a session to listen and see if I wanted to work on it. I’d see what I did the day before, and if I felt inspired, I would work on it. If I didn’t like what I was hearing, I would just step away and take a break. That was a new thing for me. With most projects, I just start chiseling away. This, I was trying to be more accepting and less judgmental of myself.

You Are Protected by Silent Love is a very enveloping and drifting record, like floating on sun rays. Did the title guide the music, or did the music guide the title?

I had the title actually before I even had the album. It spoke to me, and it’s a reminder to myself. It’s a reminder of the purpose of music. There’s different ways people use creativity, and for this album, that was the purpose.

How do you create a sonic space that leaves the listener wanting for nothing?

I don’t know, honestly. If they don’t wanna listen to it, they don’t have to, you know? It’s really just an offering. I don’t wanna trick or manipulate someone into listening. If they don’t wanna listen to it, it’s not for them.

That’s a very honest answer.

I hope it does something for people, but if they’re not getting it, then that’s okay. There’s plenty of music I love that is not… Probably some of the best music ever made has never been recorded.

Back in 2013, you said, “Finding my focus is something very important to me.” Have you achieved focus in the years since?

Oh, that’s a forever moving target. It comes and goes.

Photos by Caleb Lanier.

InterviewDaniel Agedelectronicpop