Seeing an artist champion and work with pop music so well is always a treat. Artists that truly grab pop and warp it to make it their own are few and far between, which only makes stumbling across them even more satisfying.
The first time I heard the infectious synth-pop of Sydney-based artist Dead Language (Dominic Price), it was evident that I’d found one of those artists.
Holding together his brightened tunes with sombre and gloomy lyrics, Dead Language is in the business of luscious, bold and completely addictive pop.
Using the euphoric spirit of pop as a device to explore darker themes, Price creates a twisted contrast throughout his rich tracks.
“I’m just obsessed with pop music, and for that I have to thank my sister. I was raised on a musical diet consisting mostly of the Spice Girls”, Price explains. “That left a huge impression on me that I’d carry well into my adult life.”
“There’s something about the craftwork of a pop song: to distil pure emotion into three minutes. I think it’s the perfect vehicle to talk about anything, even the sad stuff”.
Succinct pop tracks are obviously a massive trend in Dead Language’s music. Just recently, he just released his debut EP, Like Heart, filled with pounding, swirling, three-minute electro-pop bangers.
“Like Heart took a little over a year to record”, Price declares. “At the beginning of 2016, Dead Language only existed as demos on SoundCloud. I was eventually put in touch with Luke Bertoz, a producer and songwriter based in Coogee.”
“We hit it off straight away and it became clear very quickly that he would be the one who’d help make the EP. Then spending that time in the studio and actually crafting all the songs was enormous fun. It was a labour of love and something that I’m so thrilled I got to accomplish”.
If you strip away the instrumental of Price’s songs, you’ll be left with some exceptionally well-crafted lyrics and a vast maturity with words.
“When I was in primary school, my Mum enrolled me in piano lessons. It was my first foray into playing music. The teacher soon learnt that I was rubbish at reading notation, but I could play by ear; so she tended to focus me on playing more popular songs (usually just classic rock songs without lyrics and more elaborate arrangement). I used to love rehearsing those”.
That sonic non-conformity is something which still rings out prominently in Price’s tracks today. He’s still going by ear. He’s making what sounds right to him, not necessarily just following the regular structure but taking whatever path it feels.
“I eventually started to notice the similarities between them, taking the best elements, and making my own stuff. I’ve pretty much continued to do just that.”
Price recently released his first music video, for his quirky and memorable single The Man Who Killed My Father. It seems that adding the extra layer of visuals to his music was exactly what he needed to paint a more vibrant picture of his craft.
The video itself reveals the bittersweet and eccentric parts of the song, narrows down on the narrative and emphasises just how polished Dead Language is.
“Putting visuals to music was so daunting; it was something I’ve never had to do before”, Price reveals. “Thankfully I found myself in the hands of Rory Pearson, the director, who knew the clip had to be tongue-in-cheek.”
“I floated the idea of a disco taking place at a wake. Rory decided to just make it a whole funeral. We ran with it”.
The only way for Price is up and it’s almost hard to imagine where he’ll go, next seeing that he’s already constructed such a unique presence and place for himself in his short time. However, he has aspirations for larger things and propelling himself further into the spotlight.
“In the near future, I want to be focusing on honing songwriting and production, releasing a couple more singles this year hopefully. Ultimately I’m aiming on generating enough momentum to start touring, but also to begin collaborating with other musicians.”
Keep a massive eye out for Dead Language in the years to come. Price oozes with potential and it’s going to be an intriguing and exciting ride to see where he takes it next.