Inside Angel Deradoorian’s Journey to ‘Find the Sun’

Angel Deradoorian—the art pop auteur known mononymously as Deradoorian—is on a quest to find the sun.

“The sun is your soul, and it’s your confidence,” the former Dirty Projectors member tells American Songwriter in an interview featured below. “So [the title] is about finding your power. But the last song is not entirely about that. It’s about confusion, really, and confusion through trying to free yourself from whatever you think confines you. It’s finding your powers by wading through confusion.”

The song she’s referring to is “Sun,” an eight-minute epic that closes her aptly-titled forthcoming record, Find the Sun. But the struggle she’s describing—wading through confusion or uncertainty to transcend your limits—is one of the record’s defining themes.

“Peace / please / from these dreams,” she intones in her haunting and melodic new single, “Mask Of Yesterday,” featured below. “Will this dream go on and on? ‘Til the end?” For Deradoorian, questions like these animate both her musical and spiritual practices.

“I think every kind of mindful practice you do is going to inform every aspect of your life and the choices you make and the creative outlets you have,” she explains. “I don’t meditate every day, I don’t do a spiritual practice every day, I don’t play music every day. But the one underlying theme of trying to stay mindful is literally staying mindful—staying present, observing your mind and your emotions regularly to see if you’re actually present, which is one of the hardest tasks you can ask a human in this time to be. This informs everything.”

We caught up with Deradoorian by phone last week about astrology, solitude, and Find the Sun, which arrives next month after her 2017 Eternal Recurrence EP and her 2015 album, The Expanding Flower Planet. Check out the full interview and listen to “Mask Of Yesterday” below.

American Songwriter: Where are you right now? Where’s home at the moment?
Angel Deradoorian: I’m in LA right now, and I live here.

I saw in a press statement that you were in New York before that, is that right?
Yeah, I’ve been in between [New York and Los Angeles] for about 10 years.

So how long has your current stint in LA been?
Not even a year. I just moved back from New York pretty recently.

Was that due to COVID-19?
No, actually. I just thought I’d come out here for the winter, and then it extended into staying here.

When and where did you write, record, and produce the tracks on Find the Sun?
I wrote them in New York over the summer. Some of them are pretty old, a couple of them. It took years to write them, or finish them. I tracked everything in Marin County, Northern California, and then I mixed it in LA and finished recording it in LA — all the vocal tracking — then it got mastered in Portland, Oregon, so all over the place.

Were they written in a single summer, or over a few summers?
I would say the majority of it was written in July and August of 2019, and then a few songs I probably wrote like a year before, but finished them that summer.

When you were working on them last summer, did you sense that they would all come together on an album?
No, I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I kind of needed to wait to have a label to be able to make a record like this. I didn’t really know what was gonna happen with a lot of these songs until I had that security to be able to think along the terms of whole band recordings and studios.

When did that fall into place?
It was a pretty long process. I think it was May or June of last year.

The record’s called Find the Sun and the last song is this 8-minute epic called “Sun,” so I was curious about the track sequencing.
I had other people do sequences to compare them but I ended up doing the final sequence. It was never really about the context of the songs in an order—it’s always about the flow of the songs and the energy, wanting to move it in a certain direction.

How would you describe that flow or direction over the course of the record?
It was actually really challenging because a lot of the songs are mid-tempo or mid-energy. Some are even more mellow, and then a couple are higher energy. The sequencing is kind of strange in retrospect, but I really couldn’t think of it in any other way. 

It’s a bit of a slow opening. I chose the first track because it has a pretty long intro, and then I wanted to shape it to move up in energy and then move into headier, more drawn out spaces then back into an energetic point on the first side of the second half of the record. I finished it with “Sun” because I think that song would be weird to put anywhere but at the end because it’s so epic.

Because it ends with “Sun,” I assumed the title referred to that arc toward the final track. Where’d the album title come from?
There were a few different titles getting thrown around and I don’t remember if I ended up choosing the title before or after the sequencing, but there’s a lot of references to the sun in other songs. I’m an astrologer, too, so I use a lot of planetary metaphors. 

The sun is your soul, and it’s your confidence. So [the title] is about finding your power. But the last song is not entirely about that. It’s about confusion, really, and confusion through trying to free yourself from whatever you think confines you. It’s finding your powers by wading through confusion.

Do you see any of your meditative or spiritual practices as aligned with your music practices?
I think every kind of mindful practice you do is going to inform every aspect of your life and the choices you make and the creative outlets you have. I don’t meditate every day, I don’t do a spiritual practice every day, I don’t play music every day. But the one underlying theme of trying to stay mindful is literally staying mindful—staying present, observing your mind and your emotions regularly to see if you’re actually present, which is one of the hardest tasks you can ask a human in this time to be. This informs everything.

“Corsican Shores” opens with the verse, “I’m taking my / time to be alone / focus the mind / on doing all my own.” How did solitude factor into the making of this record?
That song is from the perspective of a woman, to a degree. And it’s also [about] my own experience as a person being very devoted to relationships, of all kinds, and not really understanding boundaries and who I am outside of those relationships—how people are afraid to totally be themselves when you grow up in environments where you need to win the attention of others to feel validated or to feel accepted or seen. 

I was trying to force myself into different versions of isolation. I was literally secluded for a year and a half in the woods for part of that. Other parts were just being single and feeling that loneliness and having to power through that and examine myself in times of not being in a relationship. It’s really hard to change your fundamental self. Every time something came up, [I had] to believe or hope that one day through that practice—working against those triggers or things that would pull you back in old patterns—that one day that was going to change. 

That’s what that song is talking about—forcing that [isolation], and trusting that you can break out of your ego or your attachments or your ideas of what life is, for you to reach actually a place of real love and compassion, something really different than what you think being in love is, or love in general.

You mentioned that you went into the woods for a year and a half. When and where was that?
That was 2016 to 2017 in upstate New York. That was a while ago, and that’s when I wrote my last EP. I actually wrote it before that, but I finished it there. I was living between upstate and Brooklyn, just barely surviving financially.

What were some of your sonic inspirations or touchstones for this record?
I wanted to see if I could make my version of a krautrock record. I don’t know if that’s what happened here. There are obviously songs that are influenced by that style of music, and there are some sonic effects that go along with that. 

I made this record pretty fast, for me, and sonically I was just trying to bring some very basic energy. That’s not the best way to say it [laughing], but it’s just, like, a band. I hadn’t heard a record in a while where it’s just a band. There’s a lot of electronic music, there’s a lot of really produced music, and I wanted to just bring the elements of the room. I didn’t want to mess with anything too much after it was recorded.

I like minimal use of synthesizers which was also weird for me, and overall I just wanted to not shroud anything in deep sonic psychedelia like I have in the past. It was more about trying to achieve the purity of the instruments.

It is a weird time to put out a record. I feel ready to start a new record, but I have to tour [Find the Sun] next year, depending on what happens. It’s still up in the air.

Find the Sun is out Sept. 18 via ANTI- Records. You can pre-order it here.

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