“One of the UK’s most fascinating musical figures” (Fact Magazine)
Actress, aka Darren J. Cunningham, has in the last 5 years of running the Werkdiscs label set himself apart as one of the hottest A&R scouts within his field, having discovered and released some of the most widely talked about artists of the emerging bass generation, namely Disrupt, Zomby, Lukid and Starkey.
As Actress he produced the exceptional “Hazyville LP” drawing cries for a Mercury Award Nomination. He’s remixed Various Production, written for the seminal techno imprint Soma Records and has released ‘Splazsh’ and more recently the ‘R.I.P’ album on Honest Jons, the British independent record label created and founded by Damon Albarn, of whose DRC Music Collective Actress he played a part.
Actress has starred in a unique cinematic portrait filmed by Pierre Debusschere as well as performing stunning live shows at Sonar Tokyo and Barcelona, Berghain, the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern (collaborating with visual artists Yayoi Kusama and Agnes Martin), Fabric London and DJ’d alongside the likes of Atoms For Peace, Juan Atkins, UR, Modeselektor, Radioactive Man, Dabrye, Kode 9 and Flying Lotus. DJ sets are variable depending on the night and mood, but generally programmed to suit afro-futuristic sounds of all persuasions.
Actress, real name Darren Jordan Cunningham, known to friends as DAZ, returns with a new album, now on Ninja Tune and a new music system called “AZD”(pronounced“Azid”), a chrome aspect journey into a parallel world. An artist who has always preferred to make music than to talk about it, in “AZD” he has achieved another remarkable landmark, one which is as resistant to interpretation as it is demanding of it. Following on from his previous albums, R.I.P, Splazsh and Hazyville, an epilogue poem attached to the press release for Ghettoville was construed by media, commentators and spectators that Cunningham had retired. This led him to conceptualise this mass of conclusion as the key to ‘Giving power back to identity.’ So a few pointers, or possible ways to think about“AZD”.
The album is themed around chrome–both as a reflective surface to see the self in, and as something that carves luminous voids out of any colour and fine focuses white and black representing the perfect metaphor for the bleakness of life in the Metropolis as suggested by AnishKapoors Cloud Gate. Another way to approach would be through the art of James Hampton and Rammellzee (who inspired “CYN,” which Cunningham also sees as a vision of New York in reverse…) – both of whom, though of different generations of the African-American slave diaspora, created art through “Sourcing castaway materials from their environment and reinterprating them into absolute majesty given from the fourth dimension.” There is also the career-long influence of the Detroit techno pioneers, something which becomes clear on this album “there is a contrast in the type of glow or reflection”.
‘AZD’ has received widespread critical acclaim as Actress continues push the boundaries of dancefloor music. The stunning A/V show that accompanies his live performances is proof of an artist who is happy to do away with convention yet still remain at the cutting edge.
Support to be announced
“An artist so underground that even his own friends doubt his existence” (Dazed & Confused Magazine)