A motley tribe of misfit artsy-types and countercultural youth crowds the minimalist living room of an East Atlanta home, shaking the hardwood floor under their feet and bobbing long hair up and down to a personal rhythmic interpretation of the chaos around them. Small groups on the outskirts lean against walls and each other, shouting philosophical musings and creative endeavors directly into each other’s ears over the heavy sounds of drums and bass. In the room’s epicenter — where the television might sit — stands a large drumkit, worn and battered from loving abuse, beside a mess of wires, cords and electronic amps. Drum and bass duo Delphinium steers the sweaty nest of Millennial debauchery into an extrospective trance.
Like many young artists in Metro Atlanta’s growing underground music scene, drummer Dariush Mirsajedin, 22, and bassist Noah Estrella, 19, met during their formative high school years. They went to different schools, but often ran into each other at local house shows and small venues like The Warehouse in Kennesaw and Swayze’s in Marietta.
At these shows, they immersed themselves in a growing culture of genre-subversive music, defined complex instrumentals and aggressive time changes. Despite efforts by many in the community to avoid categorization, fans and artists would later come to reluctantly label the music “hardcore” or “math rock.” Inspired by their mutual love for bands in the genre, Mirsajedin and Estrella started plans to release music under an independent project called Delphinium.
“Our sound is definitely one that has been influenced by a lot of other bands,” Mirsajadin says. “Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Mars Volta were big for us. I think Chris Tsagakis from Rx Bandits is my favorite drummer.”
Estrella says that many of his musical influences were introduced to him by his older bandmate.
“There’s this cool band from Japan called Mainliner that are kind of like Jimi Hendrix except like, super amplified,” Estrella says. “Twelve-year-old me was blown away, they changed everything. So, I started listening to this kind of noisy, progressive-type music.”
Delphinium’s first official EP, “Demo,” was released on Bandcamp in 2015. The eight-song EP introduced the band’s heavy and hectic improvisational patterns, as much as their sense of humor. Songs like “Carl Sagan Saved Phil Collin’s Life at Cookout” and “Cheerwine, Light Ice,” are inspired by the band’s relatable love for after-hours fast food and soda. “Cheerwine, Light Ice” includes a full-length music video, in which the band and several friends purchase and drink Cheerwine soda while performing the song.
“The Cookout by Kennesaw State University was the first place I tried Cheerwine,” Mirsajedin says. “It’s life-changing. I started badgering them online, asking them to send us Cheerwine, but so far they haven’t sent us anything… maybe someday!”
Delphinium started playing small gigs at the same local venues where they had first met. Through social media and word-of-mouth support, the band became well-known among the local young artist community in the Cobb County and Atlanta area.
“A lot of people heard of us from their younger siblings, because I went to high school with them,” Estrella says. “I’d have friends’ older brothers be like, ‘Dude, you’re in that band… I dropped my brother off to see your show!’”
Delphinium just completed an East Coast tour, partly financed by donations and merchandise sales, with Alabama band Mount Vesuvius Death March. The tour supported “Zinoberrot,” the band’s first full-length LP. Though the album largely references familiar themes including Cookout, Cheerwine and Carl Sagan, the production value of the mix has vastly improved from Demo through collaborative recording with Drew Kirby, guitarist of the Athens band Mothers. The band has even expanded their sound with the inclusion of saxophone on “Syrup” and “Marmalade”, reminiscent of The Mars Volta.
Delphinium says they hope to continue playing music professionally, and both musicians regularly collaborate with local Atlanta bands on recorded and live material. The house show that kicked off their 2017 tour also included Atlanta bands Fuiste and Kucoshka, who each enthusiastically promoted the two touring bands on their own social media and encouraged their fans to come to the show with donations.
All four bands are actively working to support the collaborative spirit of independent artists, expressing worry that they may not be able to continue making music professionally their whole lives, but they nevertheless feel the artistic compulsion to create music now.
“The other bands that played tonight are some of the best in this scene,” Mirsajedin says. “We hope that we can all continue to grow and play together in the future, and I’m excited to see how the scene evolves along with us. Also, shout-out to Cheerwine, please send us free stuff!”
[Watch “Cheerwine, Light Ice” below]