Drugdealer’s psychedelic rock basks in the California sun
While it’s easy to over-exaggerate the relevance of drugs to Michael Collins’ music, naughty substances have been a running theme in his career. Now basking in the LA sunshine with his gorgeous West Coast rock under the name Drugdealer, Collins has previously been based in Baltimore and New York, creating lo-fi hypnagogic music as RUN DMT, and then later Salvia Plath. At the time, it was widely believed that the switch up for the druggy puns was due to a dispute with a naff dubstep outfit also called RUN DMT. “There was never a legal issue with the name RUN DMT,” Collins assures us. “I don’t know who wrote that but it’s a funny rumour that’s been looming. I will say that a lot of people who listened to my RUN DMT albums have terrorised those guys online and at shows because I think their particular brand of art really bothers my fans. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with such sad psychedelic imposters in actuality.”
In actuality, Collins is fortunate to be dealing with a circle of similarly far-out musicians. Drugdealer’s album The End Of Comedy – released in September via Weird World – is a warm, fleshed out album featuring musical contributions from fellow LA acts like Regal Degal and Mild High Club as well as the dudes in Mac DeMarco’s band, plus vocal contributions from Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood. “The community of artists that I work with here in LA is one that has completely encouraged me to collaborate as much as possible,” Collins explains. “I feel insanely grateful to be around such an inspiring orbit of productive and loving freaks.”
While the contributors come from far and wide, The End of Comedy has a laidback feel that’s specifically Californian. What prompted his move from the East Coast? “I think I just felt that indescribable need to relocate that people often have as they get into their mid to late 20s,” he says. “One thing that has affected me since moving from the east coast cities is the fact that LA feels a lot slower – I guess something that I didn’t realise I needed… My wanderlust has for the last decade kept me from submitting to any longterm living situations or stillness, but somehow LA has a tendency to help quiet people’s minds sometimes.”
The End of Comedy seems to have a loose narrative that’s structured by soundtrack-style song titles – Far Rockaway Theme, Theme From Alessandro, Comedy Outro. The music encourages scenarios in your imagination of a blissful but ever-so-eerie LA, a bit like the sweeter descriptions in Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Asked if cinema influences his music, Collins enthuses about Brian DePalma’s Body Double (“DePalma has one foot firmly planted in meta critical humor and another in truly masterful Hitchcockian suspense”), Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and the documentaries of Errol Morris. “Honestly, anyone that knows me is aware that film has always been my main squeeze throughout all the music that I’ve been working on.” Collins tells me, proudly revealing that he’s currently making his first feature film. Who ever said the drugs don’t work?
Tobias Jesso Jr / Ariel Pink