Go Dark are out there on the fringes, two lone figures working in the twilight to illuminate the world. 21st century cyber punk that touches on the sickness of modern life, Ashley ‘Crash’ Gallegos and Adam ‘Doseone’ Drucker are bound by an incommunicable sense of purpose, the two merging completely on scorched debut album Neon Young.
“Go Dark is music for women of my kind, the striving maniac animal,” says Crash, “bitches that wear skirts and knives who can go into the woods and track things.” Dose adds: “A lot of music is meant to take you to a place you’d rather be, but this is meant to be a score for the way it is.”
Go Dark emerge from digital ghettos, torn up synths and blunt, punk-edged Brutalism that conjures John Carpenter style visions of futuristic dystopia – except it’s happening right here, right now.
People like to ask Crash about the source of her ferocious energy. The short answer is Chicago, the city she ran away to at 14, leaving a broken home for friends’ couches and artist squats. In time, she’d become an underage bartender, cross-country hitchhiker, and international busker. Settling in Oakland as a painter, poet and resident of the LoBot gallery/warehouse, she quickly met Dose, long after he’d bounced around his own fractured family, weathered the gauntlet of macho battle MCs, and met a cadre of similar rap misfits.
In emigrating from the Midwest to found the Anticon collective, he discovered a legendary breadth of expression via projects whose names ring out to this day: Deep Puddle Dynamics, Themselves, cLOUDDEAD, Subtle. Dose was earning new acclaim for his wild video game scores (Gang Beats, Enter The Gungeon) when Crash played him a demo.
“I’m an on-off switch, and I was immediately in,” he says. “I just want to hear her voice over a nastier beat at all times.” Meanwhile, says Crash, “I’m waitressing by night and basically going to Doseone school during the day, learning my voice and Ableton on his rig while he’s at work.”
2014’s ‘Bitchsword’ and 2015’s ‘Brightwild’ EPs paved the way, with debut album NEON YOUNG taking the pair’s music to the fullest extremes of their creativity. Fidgeting, sleep-deprived creativity, absolutely driven in its sonic obsession, Go Dark presents a DIY scene multi-disciplinarian and an art-rap survivor, the two forging pathways dominated by a maximal soundtrack of glitch hyper-reality, eerie soul, distorted 808s, and manic synth-punk.
“We’re not really minimalists,” Dose says. Crash elaborates: “Our show is like punk-rock cardio for an hour but without a single guitar. You won’t remember us because I was cute or some shit. You’ll remember us because I grabbed you and screamed in your face or threw something.”
Recorded in Dose’s ground-floor apartment in the heart of Oakland, sessions took place as protests over police and presidents roiled outside. There are real sirens on the LP, as well as references to addiction (‘Big Rot’), misogyny (‘Beautiful Bitch’), poverty (‘El Barrio’), and the solidarity one can find among it all (‘The Brand’). The Ghost Ship disaster also deeply affected their community and looms over ‘Get Out’, a song about Oakland’s rapid gentrification.
Ultimately, Neon Young is a record about repression and identity, about the pathways forged when life begins to suffocate, and the lengths that people go to just to survive. “To be from nowhere, which we both were,” says Dose, “and have nothing but your dreams and a desire to manifest them with like minds? That day is done.” Crash concurs, “We have to stay connected when everything’s crumbling. This album is a flag for people struggling with this shit.”