Evan Souza is Darko the Super, a Philadelphia-based rapper who’s received coverage from the likes of Houdini Mansions, Go Radio, and Dead End Hip Hop. We asked him about his upcoming album with Steel Tipped Dove, his influences, his incredible work ethic, favorite artists, and more. We’re also fortunate to be able to share the latest single from ‘The Devil Defeated’, “Suzy”.
COUNTERZINE: How are you today?
Darko the Super: Wasabi Kemosabe? I’m surfing in some oil spillage.
CZ: Tell us a little about yourself.
Darko: I go by the ridiculous name of Darko the Super. I make outsider music. Some call it art rap, or experimental hip hop. Nice terms to say I don’t fit in. I run an independent record label called U Don’t Deserve This Beautiful Art.
CZ: Who would you consider some of your foremost influences, musical or otherwise?
Darko: Musically, my biggest influences are Frank Zappa, Serengeti, Daniel Johnston, E-40, and Kool Keith. Otherwise, Bill Hicks and Andy Kaufman have had a huge impact on me.
CZ: If you had to list a signature quality or qualities that define the music of Darko the Super, what would it/they be?
Darko: Unexpected. I think that could be used to sum up much of my music.
CZ: Your next album with producer Steel Tipped Dove, The Devil Defeated, is set to release on Already Dead on March 13. What can you tell us about the process of its creation, from working with STD and pulling together features, as well as lyrical themes you were looking to explore?
Darko: This album had a lot of stages and I’m very happy with it’s final form. Steel Tipped Dove and I had met through Twitter. I reached out after I released a Big Baby Gandhi cassette he had produced on. Later through him, I met Harvey Cliff (who did the artwork) and we recorded a few albums over at his studio. Dove had a great deal going on with his Patreon. He would send you 12 beats a month for a whole year if you subscribed $10 monthly. I took him up on that, and we made tons of tracks throughout that year and eventually narrowed it down to our favorites. During the creation of our album, Daniel Johnston passed away and I was devastated. I wanted to name the project after one of his lyrics and The Devil Defeated ended up sticking. I felt it went with much of the material being about moving on from the past. I deal with a lot of depression and self-deprecation. This album is about accepting myself.
CZ: You mention your new song “Suzy” as being inspired by The Spits’ “Suzy’s Face”. Could you elaborate on the connections that tie the two songs together? Do you often pull inspiration from sources as specific as this? If so, what are some other connections between the songs on the album and others?
Darko: My song’s a story about the protagonist in “Suzy’s Face”. I wanted to expand on not only shooting Suzy in the face at the high school dance of 1999, but why. I think that’s the best song on the album. Dove would disagree. I’ve never done anything similar. If I have, someone would have to tell me, cos I don’t remember. Which could be the case.
CZ: While cassettes are a sure thing, you’re also looking to get the album on vinyl. How does that work and how can fans help make that happen?
Darko: I’m working with the company Diggers Factory: they’ll manufacture everything and handle the shipping if we can get 200 pre-orders. It’s not a small feat, but luckily I met someone there and they’re helping me promote it. Hopefully we can make it happen.
CZ: You’re absurdly prolific in your output: I was introduced to your music last year via Year of the Darko, which compiled songs from no less than 10 2018 albums. Charles Bridgers IV is quoted as calling last year’s Card Tricks for Dogs your 257th album, which sounds like obvious hyperbole, but I’m on the verge of believing it. How much have you actually released, and what drives you to be active to such an extent? Are you immune to creative burnout?
Darko: I’ve released a ton of albums but not all have survived. I’ve deleted a bunch from Bandcamp, and a lot of my earlier work can only be found if you subscribe to my Bandcamp. I despise much of my previous albums up until 2017. I think Watered Down Demon Fuzz and everything after that is great. I’ve been recording music since I was 16 years old. It’s all I want to do. I don’t get burnt out from creating music. Honestly, I don’t think I make enough albums. Releasing music is completely different. I can’t stand relying on album sales to make money. It’s why for the first time in my life I’ve been at a job for longer than a couple months. I’m 26 and all I have to show for it is the countless albums I’ve made. If suddenly I didn’t have to worry about money and all I had to do was never release another album, I would do it in a heartbeat. I don’t see that happening as much as I would love it, so I’m gonna keep making albums because it keeps me sane.
CZ: Your last release before The Devil Defeated was a Sanders campaign fundraiser compilation, and you seem unhesitant to tackle politics in general. Do you see it as an imperative to use the artistic platform afforded through music to take a clear stance on social and political topics?
Darko: Of course! Especially when it’s bigger than politics. People’s lives are at stake. Medicare for all would change my life and countless others. I take six different medications each day. I had to stop seeing my therapist when I turned 26 cos I had to find my own insurance and they didn’t cover it. Bernie’s a beautiful genius and the only person I will be voting for.
CZ: Any shows coming up?
Darko: A couple gigs with The Hell Hole Store coming up. We’ll be playing with my Atlanta friends Day Tripper and Dillon when they come through Philly on tour, March 22nd and 23rd. Then in April, we play Winston Salem, NC with the Cold Rhymes boys for a Rap Round Robin show.
CZ: What are some of your favorite acts you’ve played with?
Darko: Goon Planet totally shred. All the Ridgewood Rippers, especially Painted Faces and Video Daughters. The Already Dead family reunion is the best every year. Forget the Times. Height Keech is a brilliant performer, even does a whole light routine, that’s rare in DIY rap. The Difference Machine is my favorite to see and play with live. Day Tripper played the greatest beat set I’ve ever seen then freestyle’d after his laptop fell off the stage. I’ve opened for Homeboy Sandman a couple times, he’s special and everyone knows it. Bob Bucko Jr. leaves it all on the court every night. The Karma Kids are fun cos Lt. Headtrip punches himself in the head, what a wild man. Rest in peace to YJY: they’re not dead but the lead singer moved to Seattle. While we’re on shows, The Spits put on the greatest live show I’ve ever been to.
CZ: Any plans to tour in the near future?
Darko: Maybe if I get a booking agent. Or have a chance to open for a bigger artist. I’ve done the paying your dues tours, I’m over it.
CZ: If there was just one thing you wanted everyone to know about Darko the Super that hasn’t been covered, what would it be?
Darko: Please buy my albums so I don’t feel like a complete failure each time a new record’s released.
Darko the Super & Steel Tipped Dove’s ‘The Devil Defeated’ releases March 13 on cassette via Already Dead Tapes & Records and digitally through Darko’s label U Don’t Deserve This Beautiful Art. A vinyl release is also planned, should 200 pre-orders be secured by April 8 through Diggers Factory. Be sure to follow Darko the Super on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up-to-date with the album and future work.