Daktyl warms up a packed Observatory crowd
Daktyl warms up a packed Observatory crowd
Q Brickell

Daktyl and Petit Biscuit
The Observatory
8/9/2017

If North Korea makes good on it’s threats and Trump makes good on his continued jackassery and resulting apocalyptic stuff goes down, at least we have a glut of choices when it comes to what soundtrack we’d want to accompany us as we hunker down awaiting our fate.

Personally, I think the bass-heavy soundscapes and tropical house that came out of French  DJ/Producer/multi-instrumentalists Petit Biscuit and Daktyl, a recent L.A. transplant from London at The Observatory last night would be in the running for my world’s ending soundtrack.

It’s interesting that at a time when terrorist activity has leveled up in Europe, especially in Petit Biscuit’s native France, that the newer sounds emerging out of electronic and house music, seeping into mega-hits like Bieber’s “I’m Sorry” are dreamy and solidly escapist.

It makes sense that artists raised on technology with a native ability to shut out the world around them offer us worlds of fantasy, and imagery to a thumping, tribal beat that effectively closes the door on social detriment.

Petit Biscuit
Petit Biscuit
Christine Terrisse

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And although it’s easy especially if you listen to commercial radio, to dismiss this kind of music as feel-good fluff–psychedelic background music, scratch a tiny bit below the surface and there are loads of talented young artists bringing texture, dimension and introspection to their work, balancing out the thumpy good vibes.

When I say young, I mean young. Petit Biscuit, (direct translation “Little Cookie”) is an alias for Mehdi Benjelloun, of mixed Moroccan/French heritage. Benjelloun headlining his North American tour, is only 17, probably working on his stuff in between studying for his baccalaureat.

Even though he speaks perfectly good English I busted out my French when speaking to Jonas, The Biscuit’s manager. “Ca te plait?”– “You like it?” he asked as Biscuit came off the stage. “Oui, c’est belle,” it’s beautiful I responded.

And essentially that’s how I felt. Petit Biscuit makes really beautiful stuff, pounding out in real time on his drum machines and occasionally plugging in a guitar. He’s supremely confident on stage. His best known track, “Sunset Lover” has an addicting vocal loop, guitar chords and the high xylophone/steel drum effect that gives it the tropical flair. It’s romantic beyond his years and has proven a popular remix.

Twenty-five year old Daktyl (Rich Lonbay), one of the artists who remixed "Sunset Lover," supports Petit Biscuit on all the August dates of the North American tour. Catching Daktyl after his amped set, and after listening to his latest EP The Act of Hesitation in the car on the way over I got the sense that he is less of a supporting act and more a meatier intro to Biscuit’s dreamier, happier sounding work.

“It feels like the entire industry has moved out here,” Daktyl says about his move from London to L.A. I feel like this is the hub especially for electronic music and hip-hop which I’m the most interested in.”

Daktyl
Daktyl
Q Brickell

The Act of Hesitation has spacey, elemental quality to it, and a certain depth that Daktyl brought to his live performance, most often banging out beats on his drum machine, but switching up to a guitar and melodica and vocals.

He cites British philosopher Alan Watts as conceptual inspiration both for the track and the transitional time in his life leading up to its creation. The EP's title refers to the crucial moment before you make a choice. “Essentially he comes to the conclusion that there’s no ‘bad’ choices in life if you go through life like that, obviously within reason that you can’t go wrong. A lot of people have told me...they are scared to put their art out there...you shouldn’t be scared to share because anything can happen and that was all kind of tying in at the time for me.”

This marks a turning point of sorts for Daktyl. He’s confident enough to explore and experiment all while trying to maintain an upward trajectory. A self-described part of the future-bass scene, he says he was faced with a choice to either continue down that pathway or do more of what he wants when he records, releases being more like a snapshot in time as opposed to a continuing feeding into a movement.

In his gentle British dialect, he rebuffs when asked if his ability to incorporate guitar, keyboards, and vocals sets him apart from his peers. “It’s kind of a mixture really, honestly. There’s a lot of people, and it’s not really worse or better that just know Ableton and know it really well. I would argue that it is currently an instrument now, I feel like it’s the new “kid with a guitar,” like for example Petit Biscuit is like, what seventeen and his instrument is Ableton. It’s crazy.”

He’s inspired by nature and travel, and this is reflecting in the organic kind of quality of some of his tracks (he recorded The Act of Hesitation right outside of Yosemite.)

It’s this ability to bring the internal to the surface, that both Petit Biscuit and Daktyl are good at, using every tool that’s available to them, that makes the emergent generation of soundscape artists exciting. They offer escape, but to a world entirely of their own creation.

Petit Biscuit with Daktyl upcoming tour dates:

The Warfield, San Francisco August 10th
The Novo by Microsoft, Los Angeles, August 11th
The Observatory, North Park, San Diego August 12th
Summer Set Music Fest, Somerset, WI August 13th

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