Angel Deradoorian returns from the wilderness with her first solo full-length record, The Expanding Flower Planet.
FOUNDED: 2009, when she released her debut EP, Mind Raft
FROM: Originally Sacramento, but now Los Angeles
YOU MIGHT KNOW HER FROM: Formerly providing the harmonic counterpoint to Amber Coffman and Dave Longstreth in Dirty Projectors
NOW: Releasing her full-length debut as a solo artist, The Expanding Flower Planet
“I don’t always do this,” says Angel Deradoorian. “But I’ve been going kind of crazy not being able to play my instruments.” It’s the middle of July, and some 250 miles northwest from her home of Los Angeles—where she has no studio or rehearsal space—the twenty-nine-year-old musician is in the midst of a prolonged musical retreat within the rural expanse of Big Sur. In just a few weeks’ time, Deradoorian will leave Big Sur behind and turn her attention back to the songs she’s been living with for the past several years, now collected on her debut solo LP, The Expanding Flower Planet (she released an EP, Mind Raft, in 2009). The album hangs avant-garde concepts on loose pop structures while embracing an amalgam of influences, from eastern spiritualism to trance, jazz, and psychedelica. It all emanates from Deradoorian’s esoteric perspective and is full of melodic dissonance and octave-jumping vocals.
For Deradoorian, the path to making The Expanding Flower Planet began when her time as a member of the Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors came to an end. Deradoorian joined Dave Longstreth’s shape-shifting art-pop project before the band set out on tour in support of 2007’s Rise Above, and, along with fellow vocalist Amber Coffman, she became integral to the band’s sound.
The complex harmonies and agile, lyrical antiphony featured on the group’s breakthrough 2009 LP Bitte Orca helped her to achieve exactly what she wanted as a young artist: to move to New York, join a successful band, and tour. While she could have easily continued to thrive with Dirty Projectors for the foreseeable future, Deradoorian felt she had something to say that was entirely her own. After helping the band support Bitte Orca, she went on an indefinite hiatus to pursue her own solo material.
While she could have easily continued to thrive with Dirty Projectors for the foreseeable future, Deradoorian felt she had something to say that was entirely her own.
Deradoorian began work on The Expanding Flower Planet in 2011 while cleaning houses to make ends meet (“It’s good for just thinking,” she says). In the process of writing, however, she found herself confronting her self-doubt. “There was a lot of heavy shit,” she says. “I had to get over all these weird traumas or paranoias or expectations of myself that I had created and didn’t even realize had existed and break it all down.”
Deradoorian describes that first year as an unproductive slog. “I had to train myself and keep going,” she says. “I had to just believe there would be this light at the end of the tunnel, or the hurdle would get closer and closer for me to jump over. And it did happen one day, and I was blown away. Something just switched. I finally got to a point where I was like, ‘OK, I know what I like, and I know what I want.’ So much of that first year was just trying to discover what I liked and who I was.”
Even with the record complete, Deradoorian isn’t finished with the process. She’s still adjusting. She’s still getting used to herself. “I never really called myself an artist or a musician until recently,” she says. “And I want to be OK with calling myself that. I think there comes a point where you’re learning and learning for so long how to do what you do—and it’s different for everybody—but at some point you do need to own it. You need to be OK with who you are and who you’re becoming and what you want to be to others. It’s like, ‘It’s OK. I’m a musician. I write music. It’s what I do.’” FL