June 16, 2021
Co-sponsored by the Black Cultural Center
This is a love story about acoustic drums and dynamic samples melding in real time.
I was enjoying my favorite American lager at my most faithful watering hole in Durham, North Carolina, my home for over a decade. The weekend-long Slingshot Music Festival was underway and I was debating whether or not I’d attend. A musical acquaintance approached me mid-sip and asked if I had plans to check out any of the acts in the stacked electronic line up. I admitted that I had sunken into the comfort of my current perch but, if I were to venture, I would love to catch the set of this weird Black cat, Deantoni Parks, who was headlining the following night. He enthusiastically responded, “Oh. Deantoni. He’s right over there,” pointing towards the bar where a small mob was vying for the bartender's attention. Deantoni was patiently waiting amidst the cast of regulars. Before I could catch myself, I blurted, “Oh shit!” at a relatively high volume, and took a big nerve-calming gulp of my American lager. Deantoni, clutching his beverage, sauntered over rocking a full-face smile. We introduced ourselves and spent the next hour(s) taking shots of tequila, sucking limes, and routing our Southern and musical roots. At the heart of our connection were our overlapping influences and my knowledge of his powerful catalog of innovative music. Over cocktails and cackling, this Black, avant, virtuoso hailing from the sticks of Georgia — whose work I worshiped — became immediate kin.
There is no easy introduction to Deantoni’s resume. He’s provided the backbeat for luminaries like Lenny Kravitz, Mars Volta, and Sade, all of whom defined their musical moment via stringent personnel and signature sounds. However, Deantoni’s constant metamorphosis propels him towards a bold, defiant fusion of acoustic and electric percussive components. He invented a lane for his own musings as a creator of the technoself method (Technoself is also the title of his awe-inspiring debut album). Equal parts cosmic percussionist and mad scientist, Deantoni crafts real time remixes in a one-man, mind blowing experience that merges sampling and live drumming. As a result, no two performances are ever the same.
If this world were to run low on wonders, Deantoni could easily step in to fill the void. His masterful marriage of human and machine is organic, holistic, and captivating to witness. Some advice: when entering Deantoni’s universe, relieve yourself of efforts to “get it.” Deantoni’s live performance is about building an improvised, momentary vibe. Let yourself succumb to his boundless free fall.
— Guest Curator Shirlette Ammons
About Deantoni Parks
Using the creative moniker “Technoself,” experimental composer and percussionist Deantoni Parks blends technology, hip-hop, sampling, and electronica to create fascinating sonic experiences covering a variety of progressive styles.
Parks has been a member of new wave contortionists Kudu and art rockers Bosnian Rainbows. As a recording and performing drummer, he has worked with a broad scope of artists, including Yohimbe Brothers, Alice Smith, Meshell Ndegeocello, the Mars Volta, John Cale, and Flying Lotus. Parks has also found time to produce material under his own name, from high-powered synth pop instrumentals to chopped-up beatscapes. Touch But Don't Look was released in 2012 through RLP, operated by frequent collaborator Omar Rodríguez-López. Technoself arrived three years later on the Stones Throw-affiliated Leaving label.
Georgia-born Parks grew up in a family with musical preferences leaning towards funk, Southern soul, and gospel. With their full support, he began playing drums at age two and was put in the national spotlight before the age of five for a performance with the Newnan High School band.
He later explored jazz as a teen with Delbert Felix and chose to enroll at Berklee College of Music, where study with Lenny Nelson and exposure to Photek, Squarepusher, and Hidden Agenda turned his focus to the mechanistic beats of electronic music.
Currently based in Brooklyn, he is a vested partner in a developing audio/visual communications agency. In between writing and performances he serves as part-time faculty at Stanford Jazz Workshop, Berklee College of Music, and New York City’s Drummers Collective.
This is the first performance by Deantoni Parks at the Moss Arts Center.