Sunday, 8 February 2009

Half Stereo Interview With Lukid

A New Wonderkind: Lukid
One of London’s underground and most creative labels, Werk Discs have been releasing the best and promising electronic music for a while and they have a brand new wonderkid, Lukid.

With his second long player “Foma”, he proves his abilities to do electronica lullabies with a big hip hop and abstract beats influence. Lukid’s “Foma” is already one of the best albums of 2009. Also home to Distrupt, Actress and Zomby, Werk Discs continue broadening and transmitting their forward thinking electronic music spectrum, this time with Lukid’s melody and beat tank “Foma”. A twisted electronica journey full of jazz, ambient and funk.

What you will get from Lukid is most easily Prefuse 73 mixed with Hudson Mohawke or Dabyre. He has a real, enormous sound scape, full of creative moments and high end beat construction. Dub, dubstep, trip-hop, hip-hop and any other electronic music inspiring source maybe Lukid’s origin for a real ‘wonky’. He is a multidisciplinary beat constructivist, a high level talent. A true beatmaker. Next, he says will be a folk album. Who knows! What we know is he is doing a great music. Here is the interview we did with Luke Blair aka Lukid regarding his new album “Foma”.

How did you become a part of the Werk Discs community And how about your first LP then?
I sent them a demo a few years ago, and met up with Darren (the label manager) not long after. We stayed in contact, I kept sending him tunes, and he liked them enough to agree to put out an LP. That was "Onandon".

What about the second LP "Foma", how long did it take you to finish up and why is the name "Foma"?
All in all it was probably about a year. The word “Foma” is a reference to the book ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut. It basically means lies.

The album also has a good artwork and a poster inside which we are hungry to have these days. You keep the quality of your work not only on the music side but also on the printing and the packaging side. The Artwork is done by Davin Gormley and Paul Roberts. What is the idea behind it and how was the process?
Davin and Paul are both friends of mine, so I keep them in the loop when it comes to my music. As I was putting “Foma” together, I was sending them tracks, and I think they got a feel for the mood of the album, and started collaborating on the artwork for it. You’d have to ask them about how they went about getting their ideas together, I know that they are very talented designers and I know that whatever they do will look great, so I stay out of their processes.
I think artwork is extra important these days in a way, you need to give people that extra incentive to actually buy the physical product. Make it worth their while.

What about the sound of "Foma"? How do you define your sound in relation with the genres and trends? I would say you are doing a post-abstract-hip hop and beats thing. And you are very good combination of (you are in the middle of) Prefuse 73 and Hudson Mohawke.
I think Foma is a lot more varied than my 1st album, has more of a flow to it. I’d like to think that it explores many areas of electronic music. My favourite albums are ones that have variation in them, that tell a story. That’s what I was trying to achieve with “Foma”. I don’t know if I did or not though. You tell me.

Would you be mad at me If I say you are a strong opponent to what Hudson Mohawke is doing right now? What is your opinions about selling so much, getting known by lots of people. I guess this issue is not so much important for you or the Werk Discs crew. Could you please talk about it a little bit?
I’m not an opponent of Hudson Mohawke at all, I love his music. As for selling records, I think every artist wants to get their work out to as many people as possible, but I wouldn’t say it’s a big concern of mine. I think as long as you’re making good music, you will get a following.

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. " So please tell us something that you would like to talk about...
I’d like to talk about the steak sandwich I just made. It almost made me cry it was so good.

What about your name Lukid? Was it always the same? My prediction would be, your name ‘Luke’ multi exposed with 'Kid'. Is it right?
Yeah, I guess that’s what it is. I just liked the sound of it to be honest, no real meaning behind it. I would’ve used my real name but my last name (Blair) will be forever associated with Tony now.

Do you have a favorite track in the EP? Or a track which has an interesting story behind?
The title track ‘Foma’ is the only one I can really listen to now. It was me trying to be Erik Satie and failing miserably, but I think it’s a nice track. Could work as a bedtime lullaby.

How did you started on doing productions? What were your inspirations at the beginning? Which labels and producers do you admire these days?
I started at school. I didn’t know what I was doing really. There was no particular scene I was following or anything, I just enjoyed making music. These days? I dunno, I love a lot of stuff. Loving that new Mount Kimble record on Hotflush, a few tracks on the new Animal Collective record are absolutely killing me, Pharell, Bullion, Zomby, Dabrye of course. Loads of good stuff around. As for labels, I may be biased but Werk have some serious heat at the moment.

What about playing live in Turkey/İstanbul at a Werk Discs party? Does it excite you? What do you know about Istanbul and Turkey?
Man, I would love to come to Turkey. I’ve heard a lot of great things about İstanbul, and apart from anything else I’m totally addicted to Turkish food. So many good, cheap Turkish food joints in London, but I’m sure it doesn’t compare to what you have over there. Bring on the Werk İstanbul invasion.

What about your future plans regarding your musical carrer?
I want to keep getting better, I want to make a folk record, I want to make a hip hop record, I want to make an ambient record, I want to have a number 1 song, I want to score a film, I want to produce a band, I want to produce another band, I want to learn the oboe. All that good stuff.

Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes. I have to say that I thought ‘Slumodog Millionaire’ was crap. Who’s with me?

Check out Half StereoHere

Simon Reynolds

All of a sudden, it seems, Animal Collective have become a "mirror group". I don't just mean that their music is a reflection of the desires and dreams of their fans. Any old cult does that to some extent. No, with their new album Merriweather Post Pavilion, they have been promoted to a bigger league, where they're a talking point for a whole new set of people who, until recently, had no interest in their existence. Just like when you pass by a mirror and can't resist taking a glance, people are looking for the flattering angle, for a stance on the band and their music that makes the opinionator look good. Look, I'm doing it right now: the pose struck is "someone who rises above the fray and takes the meta-view".

Through the obscure process that's partly chosen by a band and partly out of their hands completely, Animal Collective have reached the threshold of being a group that matters. Suddenly, a lot more people have a stake in taking a position. Some can get mileage from finding them horribly overrated or just plain horrid-sounding, by being mystified by their appeal. Others â€' the long-term fans â€' can choose between complaining that they've traded in their edge (no one says "sold out" these days, that's like talking about the Man, it's too Citizen Smith), or they can guardedly approve of the group's shift towards accessibility, the ambition and generosity of reaching out to a larger audience. Then there are those who never had much interest when Animal Collective dwelled in the "experimental ghetto", but are coming on board now that they might actually become popular and therefore "significant", maybe even zeitgeist-y.

There are lots of records that receive critical and blogospheric plaudits galore but never become polarising bones of contention (there's no voluble army of opposition to Deerhunter, for instance, just the besotted and the indifferent). But every year there are a handful of records that make everyone stake out a stance. They're not consensus records in the sense that everyone thinks they're great; the consensus here is simply that this is worth getting worked up about. We literally agree to disagree. Merriweather is this year's first discursive flashpoint album. Last year we had Vampire Weekend, Portishead, Lil Wayne, Kanye West; if you look at the past five years, MIA defeats all-comers in this category. At a deeper level, beneath the particulars of aesthetics and resonance, what's really at issue is, I think, the status and function in our culture of "middlebrow". With Merriweather, almost everyone is either castigating or applauding Animal Collective for their tentative steps into the middling regions of pop culture: that Kid A zone where mild experimentalism meets not-too-obvious melodicism.

Recently I've been thinking about the importance of a strong middlebrow culture. A middlebrow that could include a record like Merriweather or Saint Dymphna â€' by AC's Brooklyn allies Gang Gang Dance, who ply a similar experimental/ecstastic sound and were rewarded in last year's critics polls for their shift towards clarity and tunefulness â€' strikes me as valuable. Whereas abandoning middlebrow to the Coldplays and Elbows of this world seems cowardly. The trouble is there's little cultural capital to be had from sticking up for middlebrow, for the kind of music that America's don of rock criticism Robert Christgau long ago tagged "semi-popular music". There's two obvious and immediately satisfying ways of responding to the existence of semi-popular/middlebrow. One is the elitist path, which involves making an invidious comparision between the middlebrow group in question and some obscure artist, pointing out how Middlebrow Record X isn't really experimental or innovative, how it has compromised itself with song structures or concessions to pleasantness. The other angle, equally rewarding, is the populist stance, where what you hold against the middlebrow artist is the fact it's not really pop, because it's not selling that much. If you're really sharp, you'll then point to some mega-successful artist who's doing genuinely radical mischief right at the money-pumping heart of the mainstream (Timbaland/Missy Elliott always used to be a good stick to beat the hapless middlebrow with, but I'm not sure who could be used now).

It's a risky business for a band to move from relative unpopularity towards the edge of the mainstream. Their original following, seeing their stock about to get devalued by new fans, may be tempted to dump it and latch on to some new buzz band. Semi-popularity in some ways is a weak place to be situated: you're not going to be the Beatles, you're probably not even going to be Radiohead, and since the difference between having 100,000 fans and 10,000 isn't really that significant (in the grand scheme of things), why not keep your music "pure"? But from another angle, you might say that middlebrow calls into question both the mainstream and the margins: pop, for its lack of risk and reach, and the unpop peripheries, for their pointless extremism, concealed macho, impotent inconsequentiality. At its best, middlebrow really does offer the best of both worlds. There's a sense too in which anything really good is going to end up in the middle zone, if not by intent then by acclamation: The Beatles and the Smiths, obviously, but also the Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine (all of whose achievement lay not in their noise â€' plenty of other people were dealing in that â€' but in the merger of melody and riff-structure with swarming textural chaos).

Mess and melody, space and song ... making them coexist is Animal Collective's forte, too. Which reminds me: I haven't said a peep about the new record. A long-time fan, I didn't really get on with the last one, Strawberry Jam, but I adore Merriweather, despite the crap title and initial feeling that it was all a bit too much of monster sugar-rush (Warren Ellis felt the same way). There's long been an electronic element within Animal Collective's folkadelic sound, but in the past the group have tended to namedrop ultra-hip German minimal techno artists like Gas. This new record is less hypnotic, though, and closer to ... banging. Dance pundit Ronan Fitzgerald points out that its pounding euphoria occasionally resembles Underworld. It seems revealing that the word "ecstasy" features in the first song, In the Flowers. Now that might refer to a rising high that's purely spiritual ... but then again, it might not. Sharp-eared blogger Carl Neville of The Impostume reckons that Merriweather and the stampede of positive energy that is Dan Deacon's Bromst could prove to be America's counterpart to nu rave. Indeed, Animal Collective have been quite vocal in their admiration for Zomby's Where Were U in 92?, a loving pastiche of early UK rave by a renegade from the dubstep scene.

One of the odd things about rave in its original form was the scene's child-like chasteness, which happens to be one of the striking aspects of the Animal Collective songbook â€' the dearth of songs of lust. (Big fans of the Grateful Dead, they often get snarkily dismissed as a hipster version of the dreaded jam-band scene, another style of music that's utterly devoid of sex.) All boyish buoyancy and pure-hearted wonder, the Animal Collective sound is about Agape not Eros. The music can be best understood as a manifestation of their extraordinarily tight friendship, which goes back to school days; more than that, the band itself is an attempt to preserve that fraternal bond in the face of all the entropic forces of adulthood and "the real world". The most popular tune on Panda Bear's solo album was called Bros, while Merriweather features songs with titles like Guys Eyes and Brothersport.

I think this Bromanticism explains why they're so drawn to the Beach Boys, an influence audible in their choral voices, which sometimes also remind me of the Missa Luba music (Africanised Catholic masses you may remember from the soundtrack of If ... a film about a boys-only private school, like the one Animal Collective went to in Maryland). The ideal is eternal youth, endless summer. That's perhaps the hidden meaning of their 2004 anthem College (the only lyric of which is "you don't have to go to college"). Not so much "drop out/escape the career track" as "never grow up" (university being the ante-room to adulthood). Yet the group has become its own career track and responsibility, while on this album they're also grappling with parenthood (My Girls sees Panda Bear fretting about his desire to buy a house: it's not materialism, honest, I just want to shelter my daughters). Watching them try to reconcile growing up but staying young at heart over ensuing albums will be fascinating.

See full transcript Here