While the brand was more of a flippant descriptor to quickly get people to understand the tonal direction of the music, ‘Murderfolk’ is certainly a subcategory that merits some exploration.
Singer/songwriter Danny Kiranos, better known onstage and on record as Amigo The Devil, has spent years refining the style, with a potent offering of ominous context packaged in earnest folk songs. His 2018 debut ‘Everything Is Fine’ resonated with a wild, passionate fanbase that took to his keen musical craftsmanship and his knack for sinister storytelling.
Penning stanzas that touted such dark narrative might seem at odds with the soul nurturing sound of Folk, yet Kiranos’ ability to meld the two proved not only effective, but masterful. Built with a musical DNA that equally embraced plot and power, Kiranos musical evolution into Amigo The Devil is backed by a collection of entries that is even more diverse than anyone could expect given the result.
Stylistically spanning from mathcore to black metal, from folk music pioneers to Fiona Apple, the broad curriculum that ultimately steered Kiranos’ creative foundation all carry the same common denominator. Kiranos gravitated towards the emotive, music that was nuanced, dark, and designed to stir the soul regardless of the style. It’s that fundamental base that equips Amigo the Devil the ability reach such a broad audience – because he is that audience.
Prepping to release his sophomore LP in Born Against next month, Kiranos has evolved his signature to rope in adjacent themes ranging from the emotional, the philosophical, and even a hint of romance. Still managing to showcase his familiar brood, Amigo the Devil expands upon his existing creative footprint in a way that is endearing to his most fervent followers, while reaching a whole new generation of fans.
In an effort to better understand how Kiranos developed his meticulous brand macabre, we asked him to detail the 10 albums that ultimately navigated him creatively. The collection of such a broad stylistic spectrum highlights Kiranos’ diverse pedigree, and better illustrates how he weaves the delicate with the dark.
In his own words, Danny Kiranos’ details the 10 albums that ultimately gave rise to Amigo the Devil.
Converge – Jane Doe
Kiranos – Up until the day I heard this Jane Doe, my tiny little brain had such a compartmentalized and genre specific view of metal. Bands were what they were and it was usually very easy to say…”ok this is thrash, this is death, this is grind…etc.” It really was a beautiful cross-pollination that opened up both doors and windows to a new view on music from then on.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Kiranos – This was a record that I bought because the artwork and the name was cool. I was 16-ish, on tour somewhere random with my band and I had picked up a few different cd’s from a record store. We pulled up to whatever squat house we were staying at that night but I wanted some time alone so I stayed back in the van for a bit. I reclined the seat, popped in the cd and had no idea I was about to go on a journey that would absolutely change my life. When I got back home to Miami, I showed some other buddies and we would skip school, head to our older friends house who had a badass sound set-up, eat mushrooms or a few double stacks and just play it on repeat as loudly as we could. Good times, better tunes. Moral of the story, maybe you should judge an album by its cover…sometimes.
Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
Perfect record. All of hers are but this one specifically is a landmark for my infatuation with her songwriting. I refer to these songs a lot when I’m lost in writing or stuck on a part. It’s the perfect blend of honesty, aggression through vulnerability and the perfect example of sound being a sturdy foundation for a song without becoming the entire structure. “Parting Gift” is still one of the most crushing and brutal songs I’ve ever heard. I credit this record with a lot of the song writing goals I strive for today.
Tom Waits – Mule Variations
Kiranos – I used to rely heavily on BMX magazines for new bands. I’d flip to the music reviews and write down all the bands that sounded interesting to find however I could. Tom Waits didn’t sound “up my alley” but the fact they had reviewed it so highly made me write it down. What I immediately learned is that apparently, I had no idea what my alley was…I didn’t even know what goddamn city I was in apparently because it rattled my bones. I’d never heard song writing like that. Although there are other Tom Waits albums that I would say inspired me more later on, this was the first I had ever heard so it’ll always be the catalyst that guided me to where I am now as a musician.
Anaal Nathrakh – Codex Necro
Kiranos – This changed everything for me. This was the first time I had heard pure terror recorded and immortalized. It led me to a lot of the more extreme projects that no one else around me was really listening to or interested in. I still get the same feeling now as I did then when I listen to it.
The Get Up Kids – Something to Write Home About
Kiranos – Something about this album made me want to be around my friends and sing as loudly as possible. It was catchy, it felt very real and it just felt good. The first time I heard The Get Up Kids was on a BMX VHS I had (Props Road Fools 1) and it would always get stuck in my head. Being the pre-streaming days, I finally tracked down one of their records and it ended up being Something to Write Home About (the only one I could find). To this day, some of my best memories are to these songs.
Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club
Kiranos – Even though I haven’t lived there in a long time, growing up in Miami clearly had an effect on me. Between the completely unique city it is and the multicultural household I grew up in, the music around me had nothing to do with the music I would eventually find and be immersed in later on. This record reminds me of eating media noches at Sarussi after a wild party at the Princess motel…it reminds me of all the latin music I grew up around that I could do a whole separate, equally important list of. It reminds me a lot of my mom and still to this day is a staple at family gatherings. I chose this record to represent an entire part of my life that I wish I had realized was as special as it was while I was dreaming of living anywhere else . The grass is always greener…I miss old Miami.
Thrice – The Illusion of Safety
Kiranos – I can’t pinpoint exactly why Thrice was so important to me but they were. I loved them…still do. Everything they have released and their growth as a band has always been exciting as well as motivating. I had friends give me hell for this because it wasn’t as aggressive or as fast as some of the other music we were all getting into but it was an incredible balance of melody and heaviness that I wasn’t finding in a lot of other bands I listened to. I’m ashamed I ever pretended to not like it for the sake of any appearance. Never doing that again. When it comes to music, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A GUILTY PLEASURE…ONLY PLEASURE. Enjoy what you enjoy and to hell with the rest.
Murder By Death – Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them?
Kiranos – Anyone who has heard not just this record but any Murder By Death knows that it speaks for itself. I heard Killbot 2000 on an Eyeball records compilation and was so thrown off by how different it was to everything else on there. It’s another one of those times where my “I know what I like” attitude was thrown off the ship and forced to float in the open ocean circled by toothy beasts, hoping to survive. I remember figuring out how to get my ass up to New York to watch them play some showcase since they wouldn’t be anywhere near me. Still one of my top 5 live bands and again, I don’t like picking favorites from their catalog but this was my gateway to a whole new world. A new fantastic point of view…yea, I went there.
John Prine – John Prine
Kiranos – As the popular and usually incorrect saying goes, I was dumb enough to say “I listen to everything but country.” Holy hell was I wrong. Granted, at the time I didn’t even know there was a difference between country, folk, western… I didn’t have any of it around me growing up so that statement was flawed from the start. I must have been 18 or 19 and was at a bar (fake I.D.’s were a lot easier back then) when whoever was playing in the corner covered “Sam Stone.” I caught the first chorus on my way back to my friends with some drinks and it felt like every legendary boxer there’s ever been punched me in the gut all at the same time. I wish I knew his name to thank him for genuinely introducing me to my future. From then on I devoured everything I could find that was related which brought me to an entire world I didn’t know about. I’m still catching up and feel like I always will be but I swore that day to never write off a genre based on my or anyone else’s assumptions of it. This record is the epitome of story telling through song. This record is a major reason that I started writing the songs I do. Thank you Mr. Prine, I hope you’re finally smoking that nine mile long cigarette.
‘Born Against’ from Amigo the Devil arrives April 16th via Liars Club/Regime Music Group – Pre-order the album – HERE