DEMON DAYZ FESTIVAL
Members of the British virtual band Gorillaz chat with Kelli Skye Fadroski about its LA area Demon Dayz Festival
Though it’s a virtual band, brought to life in 1998 by Blur’s Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz are very much in touch with reality. Its four animated members — lead vocalist and keys player 2D, bassist Murdoc Niccals, guitarist Noodle and drummer Russ el Hobbs—have released six albums, including its latest, “The Now Now,” which dropped in late June.
Gorillaz has been out on its Now Now Tour and brought a special show to the Los Angeles area as it presented its curated Demon Dayz Festival at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena and Grounds on Oct. 20. The line-up featured a headlining set by Gorillaz, as well as performances by an eclectic mix of artists including Erykah Badu, The Internet, Dram, Tony Allen, Little Simz, Kilo Kish, Ana Tijoux, Yota, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Las Cafeteras and Chulita Vinyl Club. Demon Dayz Festival made its debut year as the band was out in support of its album, “Humanz.” The one-day fest was held at the Dreamland amusement park in Margate, England, and featured De La Soul, Vince Staples, Danny Brown and more and it was capped with a headlining set from Gorillaz.
Since the group is currently out on the road — and obviously not real — we caught up with the members for an email chat to discuss its second annual Demon Dayz Fest.
THE FIRST DEMON DAYZ FESTIVAL WAS HELD OVER IN ENGLAND. WHAT WAS APPEALING ABOUT BRINGING IT TO THE US AND TO THE LOS ANGELES AREA THIS YEAR?
Russel: Listen, my man, the Gorillaz train rolls out wherever it’s needed. You people stateside are overdue some sonic truth, and
we’re here to deliver that like FedEx. Plus, you know, it’s October. LA got sun, England puts up the brolly. That’s English for umbrella, BTW. Least I think it is.
CURATED FESTIVALS HAVE BECOME BIG BUSINESS AS THERE ARE SEVERAL NOW PLAYING OFF THROUGHOUT THE US, WHAT MAKES DEMON DAYZ STAND OUT FROM THE REST? WHO IS THIS A FESTIVAL FOR?
2D: It’s for everyone. Although hopefully not everyone comes ‘cos the queues for the toilets could get quite long, and we might run out of hot dog buns. Demon Dayz stands out because it’s not like other festivals, actually it’s more like an anti-festival, festival, i.e., the opposite of a festival, while also still being a festival. But we are anti-labels at Gorillaz, so it’s not that either.”
WITH FESTIVALS OFTEN COME SURPRISES AND COLLABORATIONS, WILL GORILLAZ BE SPOTTED DURING ANY OF THE OTHER ARTISTS’ SETS THROUGHOUT THE DAY? OR IS THERE POTENTIAL FOR SOME OF THAT DURING THE GORILLAZ SET?
Murdoc: “Bloody hell, you’re essentially asking me to spoil the surprises for everyone. I hate spoilers. I’ll never forgive (Murdoc’s former prison mate) for ruining the end of “Charmed” for me when I was in the slammer. So as I say to my heavily subscribed life driving class: Sit back, all will be revealed.”
HOW DID THIS PARTICULAR ROSTER OF ARTISTS COME TOGETHER FOR DEMON DAYZ? HOW WERE THESE ARTISTS SELECTED AND WERE THERE CERTAIN QUALITIES OR SOUNDS YOU WERE LOOKING FOR?
Russel: First and foremost, it’s artists that Gorillaz respect, folks we feel the world needs to get more of in their ears and minds. Great musicians, great people. Eclectic, too. Afrobeat and Neo Soul sharing the same stage? Hell yeah.
EVERY FESTIVAL HAS A SPECIFIC LOOK AND FEEL, WHAT WILL DEMON DAYZ LOOK AND FEEL LIKE?
Murdoc: Still looking for spoilers, eh? YOU’RE LIKE A KID RIlING THROUGH THEIR mum’s drawers for Christmas presents and it’s not even Thanksgiving. All I’ll say is this: It’ll be dark, demonic and kick you square in the soul. Twice. Bit like one of my Afghani brownies. Actually they would make a bloody great Thanksgiving.
OBVIOUSLY WE HAVE A NEW ALBUM FROM GORILLAZ, “THE NOW NOW,” ABOUT HOW MUCH OF THE NEW ALBUM WILL WE GET TO HEAR AT DEMON DAYZ?
2D: I’ll answer this one, guys. Well, I’d say certainly some of it, if not more. GIVE OR TAKE A FEW SONGS. IT’S DIFiCULT to be precise because I have no idea. No one ever shows me the set list. But I answered the question as it’s just nice to be involved. Hope you’re all well.
Jack Black was in the “Humility” music video. Any chance of him coming out to perform with Gorillaz? Who would win in a musical battle: Gorillaz or Tenacious D?
Noodle: There are many battles to be fought today, but this isn’t one of THEM. PLUS I WOULD NEVER iGHT JACK because he’s a nice guy.
Musician-singer Damon Albarn performs with his band Gorillaz
Singer Erykah Badu performs at Demon Dayz Festival
Below: US rapper D.R.A.M.