BY ANA AMMANN //
Portland’s Rob Daiker is a sought after songwriter/performer/producer who works with new and established artists (The Fame Riot, Haley Johnsen, Dan Reed) to bring out their fullest expression in the music they record, but it’s been three years since he has released anything under his own name.
It seems that 20 years in this business has brought him to exactly where he is supposed to be as he prepares to release his latest album, Binary Affairs on September 12th.
Right out of high school, Daiker cut his musical teeth playing in cover bands touring the West Coast 5 to 6 nights a week for four years, until he transitioned to writing and performing original compositions at the age of 24. Releasing his first record in 1994 with guest vocalists Dan Reed, Andy Stokes and Myles Kennedy, Daiker himself never planned to be a singer, he says he did so later out of necessity. The experience making that album was such a positive one, he formed a band with Dan Pred and Blake Sakamoto to perform his solo works.
“One of the songs I had written had made it to an industry gathering for 107.7 in Seattle where somebody from Virgin Records heard it, then got a hold of me said, ‘I can have a record deal for you in four weeks,’ and so I said ‘Make it happen!’ Sure as shit, four weeks later I was signed with Sony Epic.
“I only had that record deal for about two years, but the situation let me move more into a production position in terms of what I was doing because I had been given 100 percent creative control of my record – I got to produce it and make all these decisions that normally you wouldn’t get to make if you didn’t have creative control, so I sort of had instant cred as a producer after that. All of a sudden I was getting all these requests from bands that wanted me to produce their record. That was when I started to shift from artist to producer.
“But when you start working on four to five records at a time for other people, and all these other things are going on, you don’t really have a lot of time to think about , ‘Ok, when ismy next record going to be done?’ I was too busy to hire myself for my own record.
“Previous to this [working on Binary Affairs], it was three years that I had even written a song because I had been so busy and just hadn’t had time to sit down and do my own thing. But last January or February, I woke up and I was incredibly inspired. One song turned into three, turned into six, turned into 12. It was amazing and beautiful, it’s never really happened like that for me before. The whole process took just four months.
“My prior records seems like they’ve always been about the same thing, I’m writing about the end of a relationship, or ‘How could you do this to me?’ – a break up record, that was just kind of my thing. This was the complete opposite of that. This was writing about getting to know someone, not trying to forget them. It was a really interesting dynamic that was making it all happen and it just kind of happened in a perfect way. I’m still so thankful for it.
“The first song I wrote was “Kick Me Out of Your Heart.” They just all kind of followed after that. “Random Error” is from an autocorrect text. This person sent me a text and accidentally put “love” instead of “live”, so she wrote back and said, ‘Oh sorry, love was a random error.’
“For me that kind of encapsulates the vibe of the whole record. There isn’t a perfect time for love. It kind of comes up and smacks you in the head when you least expect it. This situation wasn’t, in the beginning, a romantic relationship. We’d get together and spend an hour or two, and in that time I’d walk away and say, ‘Oh, I have another song!’ They were tiny moments. It’s never happened to me that way. Usually, I have to take some time. I’ll write a word, think it’s horrible, walk away from it for a week. That song ‘Random Error’, I wrote and recorded it in the window of eight hours.”
Binary Affairs is a departure from Daiker’s early angrier/rocker Slowrush days. He performs everything on it in his studio. Listen to Superhero on Soundcloud.
“It sounds like me grown up. This batch of music is more in line with what initially inspired me; the music I used to like when I was a kid, when I was a teenager – R&B and Punk, old school stuff like Sly and Family tone, and even Scritti Politti. I feel like all that shines on this new record and that I’m being more true to my roots.
“My personal goal is to make the best songs I can. I took my first vacation in 10 years this past February and as I was listening to a couple of my older records I was thinking, if I die tomorrow, is this the music I want people to hear? I feel like I have something else in me.
“I think any artist should concentrate on making something they can personally be proud of, and not worry about how the world is going to hear it, or how their friends are going to hear it, or if is going to be accepted by this genre or the other. Nobody should care about any of that stuff, because those aren’t the things that drove us to being musicians in the first place. We all do this because we love it. It’s in our blood. I’m a lifer. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid and I’ll do it until I die.”
See Rob Daiker Sept 12th at Dante’s in Portland as he celebrates the his release forBinary Affairs; with Berahmand, and Emotitron, 21+, $15.