“It’s not really a DJ, but it’s not really a live band either.”
“I’m still trying to figure out what exactly is going on here. Who are these guys?”
“It’s way better than just someone DJ-ing a set with their iPod.”
These were comments overheard during a live performance by Daylight Roots at the first Food Truck Friday on April 6. The sounds they draw from and incorporate into their music come from multiple styles including punk, reggae, indie, pop, hip-hop, electronica and dubstep.
“It’s basically dance music with live drums and live guitar,” says Derak Berreyesa, who DJ-ed under the name Daylight Roots before partnering up with Mykhaylo Bardashov. “I’ve played in all kinds of bands—rock, indie … I like indie for the most part. Recently, I got into DJ-ing and thought it might be fun to incorporate it all.”
Bardashov, originally from Ukraine, plays live percussion to the samples and electronic loops Berreyesa compiles.
“I went to music school for sax and drums,” says Berreyesa. “Then I started playing in punk bands, then indie, reggae, and now this project.”
The two were introduced by a mutual friend and have been working together for about four months. They try to incorporate as many live elements as they can, playing all of the instruments themselves. Right now, it’s mostly guitar and drums, but they have included xylophone and conga, and they’d like to make use of Bardashov’s saxophone skills. Berreyesa gathers samples and sounds, creates electronic loops, adds in synth elements, then compiles it all, and Bardashov adds drums and percussion. Daylight Roots has also been working on collaborating with local hip-hop artist Chiggity Chuck.
“It’s a wide variety of genres,” says Berreyesa. “We’ll play mellow stuff then build it up to more intense.”
“I’ve always like this kind of music,” says Bardashov. “It’s hard to find someone like Derak because it’s not so popular here.”
They cite the groups Pretty Lights and Big Gigantic as influences and inspiration for their music.
“We are even more live than those people,” says Berreyesa. “It’s definitely a live thing. At some point we’ll try and record everything. But it’s kind of hard to figure out otherwise.”
Their live show demonstrates the structure of how they work and the independent components that come together in their music. There’s a performance aspect to what they do. On stage, Berreyesa moves—more like bounces—between his laptop setup and audio mixer and his guitar while Bardashov hangs behind the drums.
“Hopefully, the impressive part is seeing us actually play this and seeing us jump around to different instruments,” says Berreyesa. “That’s where all the energy comes from.”
One of the songs they performed live sampled a Sublime track that they then played over and looped in such a way that it was recognizable but definitely their own. Like a musical mash-up, such as Girl Talk, meets electronica—and then there’s the live element too.
It may seem slightly confusing—even Daylight Roots had a hard time coming up with an articulate way of describing of what they do, only because it doesn’t fit neatly into any one-word characterization. And, in describing it, it almost sounds like too much going on to even work—like their music is having an identity crisis. However, it does work. Somehow they pull it all off (at times with more craft than others). And even if you can’t figure out exactly what’s going on, the music is decidedly danceable.