Deltron 3030 Returns! Dan the Automator Speaks

Kid Koala, Del the Funky Homosapien and Dan "the Automator" Nakamura
Kid Koala, Del the Funky Homosapien and Dan "the Automator" Nakamura
Darren Samuelson

Thirteen years later, it's time to party like it's 3030 again.

A collaboration between Dan the Automator, Kid Koala and Del the Funky Homosapien released in 2000, the original Deltron 3030 was a peak for progressive underground hip-hop. The Cali-born Del and Dan and Vancouver native Koala teamed up for the critically acclaimed project that wound up developing such a huge cult following.

Finally, Deltron 3030: Event II, will come out October 1st, also featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Black Rob, Zach de la Rocha, The Lonely Island and Mike Patton. The trio will be touring to support the album with a live orchestra, starting this Sunday at Rock the Bells. We spoke to Dan "the Automator" Nakamura about making a proper sequel and where this new live show will take them.

What made now seem like the right time for a proper Deltron follow-up?

Well, it's actually funny you worded it that way. The reason it took so long is we just weren't in the right place to do it. We had planned to do it long ago, but interestingly enough, I feel like the time between doing the records, a lot of changes in society and government happened right in front of us. It was kind of an interesting time to write about. From 9/11 to banks collapsing to Occupy Wall Street.

I'm not saying that's why it took so long, but coincidentally it just kind of became what made sense to make the new record. 3030 was a fantasy record, but it wasn't all about that. There's a lot of observation on how things were and where things were heading. Being able to say what you want -- because it's a fantasy -- has allowed us to expound upon how we felt about what was going on in the world. With the second record, now that we could see what was possible, it allowed us to go there.

Around the time he began working on the project, Del told me about the orchestral elements. Has that made the new record pretty different than the first one?

Well, there's a lot of things different about the production. We've gone 100% away from samples. It's not a sample-based record, we're creating things. Between the first record and this last record, I have the experience of working on other people's records and I kinda come from a strings and violin background so that's something I understand pretty well. It's very nice to realize it now and do it in shows and stuff and that's pretty exciting, as it's something I never thought would ever really happen in my performing career.

How different is it bringing Deltron into a live setting?

It's great. So far, the shows we've done are the shows I've always wished we could do. To be able to do that is awesome because it's a more ambitious undertaking than I thought in the beginning. Now that we're able to pull it off, it's really musically interesting.

What made you decide to kick off the tour at Rock the Bells?

Well, Rock the Bells has always been very supportive of the artform. From the underground hip-hop to the less up-the-middle hip-hop and it's great to meet people who are of that mentality. And that's made them what they are, it's just a great place to play.

Like the first Deltron record, this new one has a diverse guest list. What inspires you to bring someone into the Deltron fold?

Well, essentially, they're all friends of mine and people I work with. With Deltron and Del's skillset, he's a rhymer so he raps. I don't want a bunch of rapping choruses, so I bring in some singers that I know. For the interludes and skits, we're just trying to paint a picture of the future a bit and the people I choose it's because I like them. It's a very family oriented record.

Given how prolific you've been, do you have any project you wish more people knew about?

I probably do. The one that jumps out that this moment, it wasn't that it wasn't appreciated, but I really like that second Handsome Boy Modeling School album. I really think that record did something that still hasn't really been done and I think it was slightly more slept-on than it maybe should have been. I think, when it came out, some people got it and some people thought it was a little less "underground" than the first one, I don't know. I've always felt there's something special about that record.

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