Audeze interviews Experimental Noise pioneer "Dälek" Will Brooks

January 20, 2024

Experimental Noise Hip Hop pioneer Dälek (Will Brooks) has spent decades carving out a unique niche fusing Boom-Bap Hip Hop, Shoegaze noise and a radical approach to sound. He has shared stages with groups as diverse as Prince Paul, KRS ONE, and De La Soul to TOOL, Mastodon, and the Melvins. Dälek’s collaborations include German Krautrock legends FAUST, the UKs Techno Animal, Jazz saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, and THIS HEAT’s Charles Hayward.

Will Brooks wearing Audeze LCD-X in his studio

"Having the LCD-X allows me to take the room out of the equation and lets me clearly hear where the mixes are sitting." - "Dälek" Will Brooks
Here's our chat with "Dälek":
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of? 

The Albums Absence (2005) and Precipice (2022), The project we did with Kraut-Rock legends Faust: “Derbe Respect, Alder” (2004) ANGUISH - S/T with Mats Gustafsson, Andreas Werliin, Joachim Irmler, Mike Mare. (2019)

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

Producer, MC, mixing engineer.. you have to wear a lot of hats nowadays out of necessity, but also out of love for the craft.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I started as a DJ when I was 14 years old. My older cousins were DJs in the early days of hip hop. So I grew up listening to those pioneers: Grand Master Flash, Melle Mel, Treacherous 3, Funky 4 +1, Soul and disco breaks, as well as Salsa classica from my parents. They also loved the Beatles. I had another cousin who put me onto Rock and Metal. I absorbed all the MTV pop hits too. I grew up with 80’s & 90’s Hip Hop but I loved music, period. I’m no DJ today but I maintained that ear and open mindedness. I got into Jazz and Shoegaze in my 20’s. When my brother the Oktopus introduced me to My Bloody Valentine & All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors that really changed everything for me. I started MCing around 16 years old, and got on an SP12 & S950 making beats at around 18.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

On a personal level definitely my cousins. I wanted to be them hahaha, That was the catalyst… the turntables. As far heroes: BDP (KRS-ONE), Public Enemy, Rakim to name a few. When I saw Boogie Down Productions live I knew that I wanted to do this music thing for real. I also have had moments that seem so surreal to me now. I was in the studio when Large Professor was recording the Remix for Resurrection with Common (then known as Common Sense). I also spent an afternoon moving record crates for Arthur Baker at his studio in Jersey. Being around heavyweights like that early, made me want to travel that path. Being in studios like Baker’s and 39th Street in Manhattan at such a young age?!? … I fell in love with the gear and the vibes of those spots. As I said, I started with a second hand SP12, later I added an S950, but I think it was the MPC3000 that truly spoke to me as a producer. Shout out to DJ REK who really showed me how to use those samplers.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

Early on the gear we were working on and recording to was noisy, but what we did was embrace that noise and distortion. We made it part of the sound. Ironically, now recording into high end converters at high sample rates I find myself spending time trying to recapture that noise and distortion I fought early on. The difference is having control over it now and adding it when and where I want it. I think every artist struggles with getting the sounds in our heads, and more importantly how it sounds in our heads, to translate to the finished product. I think from our first release to our most current it’s a progression. Each record captures who you are and your skills at that moment. You just have to keep building. Learning your room, learning your gear, and trust your ears. That is the only way to overcome the obstacles. Embrace the obstacles and limitations, use them to your advantage.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

Believe it or not I still use my MPC3000 on a regular basis along with Ableton Live and a Push 2. The Distressor and an SM7B are always go to’s as well. As far as recent favorites… Lately the mix chain of my VintageMaker Neumann summing mixer, Tegler Audio Manufaktur Crème and Magnetismus 2 come to mind. I’m also blown away by iOS apps like SAMPLR and Koala Sampler. It’s pretty remarkable what you can create with just a tablet or phone nowadays.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

Define what success means to you, yourself. Work with what is available to you. The gear is like brushes you don’t need all of them. What you create, that comes from inside of you. End of the day what matters is the art and the song. Embrace the limitations and obstacles.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I haven’t to be honest, but that's changed now. I’ve been searching for cans that will allow me to mix regardless of where I find myself. Especially while touring.

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

I remember using a pair of headphones as a vocal mic back in the day... I definitely will NOT be doing that with the AUDEZE joints hahahaha!!!

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

Having recently moved my mix room, I am in the process of learning the room. Having the LCD-X allows me to take the room out of the equation and lets me clearly hear where the mixes are sitting. Having that extra “safety blanket” has been dope. The clarity, separation, and full frequency that I’m use to on my Barefoot 01s monitors is there in headphone form. Really nothing quite like it as far as headphones I’ve tried. Truly impressed.

Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

I worked on a remix for King Garbage, a vocal feature for Mars Kumari’s new album ‘I Thought I Lost You’ on Danny Brown’s imprint Bruiser Brigade Records, got pre-production for the next full length release as Dälek coming up. And have been scoring a podcast called “Being Black- The 80’s with Toure” for TheGrio Network.

Audeze LCD-X headphones on mixing table