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Wednesday, March 15
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Shares video for track "X22RME"

Album out Friday April 14 on Ninja Tune via Inertia Music
Photo Credit: Mehdi Lacoste
Actress, real name Darren Jordan Cunningham, returns with a new album and chrome aspect journey into a parallel world. The mysterious UK producer has announced AZD, out Friday April 14 on Ninja Tune via Inertia Music.

An artist who has always preferred to make music than to talk about it, in AZD Actress 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."

Now he returns with a new album and a new music system – AZD (pronounced “Azid”). 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.

Through the chromatic themed concept behind the album, Actress has carved reflective surfaces to see the self in, as well as shaping luminous voids out of any idea of colour, finely focusing blacks and whites in the perfect metaphor for the bleakness of life in the Metropolis. This is none more apparent than in the lead single from AZD, "X22REME" which elegantly plays between the line of Oriental classic rave and Balinese warehouse Techno machined in a Rotherhithe lock up welding the grooves into a seamless cracked joint.

Watch the video for "X22REME" below:
"I did fifty versions of the same tune" Cunningham recalls. "Different parts were on tape, CD, different old computers and USB sticks, so it was quite intimidating to revisit and complete. The track was in the end built out of 3 hours of different passages." The finished work is harsh and beautiful all at once, its incredible complexity never overwhelming its drive. 

"X22RME" is a key note example of the influence the Black artists James Hampton and Rammellzee had on the creation of AZD – a man who created art through “sourcing castaway materials from their environment and reinterpreting them into absolute majesty given from the fourth dimension.

The simplest you could say about AZD is that it’s art – the unique creation of a unique mind. There will be few more distinctive, brilliant or visionary suites of music released in 2017. Call him what you will, this is the year that Darren ‘Daz’ Cunningham - aka Actress, aka AZD – asserts more clearly than ever before his complete independence.

It’s an album which logically sums complexity with elegance, and diverts non logical linguistic tanks through the dispersion and subversion of ghetto gothic cut up technology. Described by Cunningham as “Non dance based civilian mind groove, mapped to an external soul beyond the collapsing black hole…Music is chaos R.I.P Music

5. CYN
6. X22RME 
12. VISA 
AZD by Actress is out Friday April 14 on Ninja Tune via Inertia Music
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Even when Darren Jordan Cunningham was just a kid, DAZ or DAZ AUTOMATIC, growing up in Wolverhampton, there was something about him which stood out. "When I was at school, I was always being creative,” he remembers. “I was a very good counterfeiter – good at copying pictures. I was able to perfectly recreate pictures. At school you’d have projects for the term and we were looking at Sikhism. I think I was about seven. I was asked to create this massive mural of Guru Nanak using different forms – using sequences, dipped painted cotton wool, Sikh fabrics.” He pauses as he thinks it through. “I ended up applying that to music. I create sketches, essentially like these fabrics, and I collage them together…once I see the picture it’s embellished further and the proceeds repeats.

If his first obsession was drawing, his first love was football. Indeed, if it wasn’t for a career-ending injury while a promising young player with West Bromwich Albion, football may well have remained his abiding obsession. Luckily for music, the injury caused a sudden change in direction. “I got some turntables and taught myself how to DJ, built up a small record collection and then started to DJ at student house parties in Wolverhampton.” 

A devotee of Detroit techno and particularly, Derrick May, Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson, Cunningham had no real sense how far outside the mainstream he stood. Luckily he met Matthew Parsons, who not only knew what he was playing, but had a basic studio set up in his student digs. "Creating music was a bit of a black art," Cunningham remembers. “There was a curtain and I couldn’t see how it was made on the other side.” Parsons not only let him in and showed him the basics, when he went travelling he sold him all his kit for 200 quid.

Soon after, Darren moved to London. The PFA (Professional Footballers Association) was running a grant programme for young players whose careers had been finished by injury and as a result, they funded his place on one of the first degree courses in Recording Arts. Which was when the partying started. “I was clean living before this point. Total fitness. I had periods where I didn’t make music at all as I didn’t have the money. I ended up buying synthesizers instead of paying tuition fees.” The result of this was a complete submersion in the dance subcultures of the capital city as well as a crash course in production. “I just got stuck in, from a practical, experimental viewpoint. Never used a metronome. That’s how my style developed.

The result of all this wasn’t just the birth of Actress but of Werkdiscs, originally a club night with some friends, which became a label in time for the first Actress release in 2004. The label went on to discover and release some of the most widely talked-about artists of the emerging bass generation, namely Lukid, Disrupt and Zomby. As well as running the label, Actress remixed Various Productions, wrote for the seminal techno imprint Soma Records, put out singles and EPs through Prime Numbers and Nonplus and released the Splazsh and R.I.P albums on Honest Jons, the British independent record label jointly created and founded by Damon Albarn. He also travelled with Albarn to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to record Kinshasa One Two, which was released by Warp in 2011.

In addition to his recorded work, Actress has been photographed by Wolfgang Tillmans, and the late celebrated photographer Lord Snowden.  He has worked collaboratively on projects with White Cube artist Eddie Peake, Mehdi Lacoste, Dan Emmerson and Belgian visual artist Pierre Debusschere, as well as fronting campaigns for Fashion brands Acne and Cav Empt, during which he has performed sell out shows at The Barbican Center and Tate Modern London, Sonar Tokyo and Berghain Berlin
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