The alias of Wolverhampton, England-based producer Darren Cunningham, Actress was credited with some of the least predictable, categorization-defying electronic dance music of the 2000s. Since debuting in 2004 with the No Tricks 12" on his own Werk Discs label, Cunningham juggled a diverse array of inspirations -- including early-'80s funk and electro, art rock, raw and classicist house, and noise -- while putting a fresh, challenging spin on them. As a result, his productions confounded some DJs while also being devoured by others within the realms of house, techno, and dubstep. Cunningham released a pair of albums, the promising Hazyville (Werk, 2008) and the exceptional Splazsh (Honest Jon's, 2010), and remixed tracks by a select list of fellow producers including Kassem Mosse, Joy Orbison, Alex Smoke, and Panda Bear. At the same time, Werk Discs was one of the most revered dance labels -- a trusted outlet for the likes of Lone, Zomby, and Lukid.
In 2012, Cunningham released his third Actress album, R.I.P. -- his most abstract and singular work to that point. The same year, he collaborated with artist Yayoi Kasuma for a performance at London's Tate Modern gallery and remixed tracks for John Cale and Kasabian. The producer's fourth album, 2014's Ghettoville, was released on Ninja Tune. Cunningham ominously proclaimed the set to be "the bleached out and black tinted conclusion of the Actress image." An installment in the !K7 label's long-running DJ-Kicks mix series followed in 2015. ~ Andy Kellman