18th October 12
“I’m Saying “Mood” A Lot, Aren’t I?”: An Interview With Lukid
Posted in Interviews - by Philip Tortoroli
I can’t really preamble an interview with Luke Blair (aka Lukid) without addressing the one aspect of his creative output that I have always admired: his sarcastic, honest, self-deprecating, hilarious, unbridled, and personable personality. Lukid has never presented himself as an overconfident, self-promoting hack chasing the heels of the next big blog post, nor succumbed to the banalities of the electronic hype circuit. From his Facebook page to his latest album, Luke allows his personality to imbue every aspect of his output, all the while carefully maintaining how much output is shared with the wider public. Considering the nature of the internet and the sub-mainstream domain of electronic music, that’s pretty damn admirable.
It’s this strong sense of character that cements Lonely At The Top, his fourth full-length (and first under the new Werkdiscs/Ninja Tune partnership), as his most realised work to date. The record’s narrative and cover art convey the many moods of Lukid the artist: the pseudo-confidence of ‘Bless My Heart’, the insatiable freneticism of ‘Riquelme’, the drunk stubbornness of ‘This Dog Can Swim’, or the why-am-I-still-awake complacency within ‘The Life Of The Mind’. The songs do not amount to a concept grander than Lukid himself – a producer of timeless music that will devastatingly go unheard by the world’s majority until reissued by some DIY label in 2033 where a Pitchfork-like entity will hail it as an “instrumental predecessor to modern day dance music” – yet they follow a narrative of his many moods, harnessed, crushed, and squeezed onto tape.
Ahead of the album’s October 22nd release, Phil Tortoroli spoke with Lukid about his work’s narrative and focal points, the warped visual accompaniments and his preference for sampling himself.
Sonic Router: During a recent interview, you mentioned the narrative of Lonely At The Top was framed around a few key tracks. Could you elaborate on which tracks specifically, and what made them so integral?
Lukid: The title track was one of the first that I finished, and inspired me to make the album. There was something about it that was new for me. I made/stole the video soon after, just to have some visuals with it, and i think both set the tone of the album for me. Along with the opening track, ‘Bless My Heart’, which I made out of a sample from a tape I found outside of my house. Both those tracks I made for fun, with no real release in mind, but then it occurred to me that I should try and make an album that was ‘fun’ to make, rather than stressing about this particular work (which backfired massively). Then there was ‘This Dog Can Swim’, which set the tone for the more aggressive side of the album. All three acted as placeholders.
Why did you place these three tracks in the first half of the album?
‘Bless My Heart’ sets the mood well, as an introduction to and summation of the album as a whole. It’s fulfilling, yet unsettling at the same time. ‘Lonely At The Top’ worked to get the album going a bit with a little more energy, but also as the end of the first act. ‘This Dog Can Swim’ was the real energy burst that ushered in the second act. God, I sound like twat. But yeah, that was my thinking…
What kind of narrative did you have in mind when arranging the records? That might be hard to put in to words, actually…
I guess I was thinking about films – not any one in particular, but just the way my favorite films (and favorite albums, actually) are put together: the arcs, the up’s and down’s, slow’s and fast’s that a story needs to be told effectively.
How do you go about naming these songs, or any of your back catalogue? Too many producers these days just pick words at random with the hope that something sticks.
Ha, I’ve definitely done that in the past. I just try and pick something that fits the mood of the track. (I’m saying “mood” a lot, aren’t I?) It might be something from a book or a film, or just a phrase I have going around my head at the moment. But I think it’s important to pick something that fits.
So then what in turn made you pick “Lonely At The Top” for the album’s title?
It was a phrase I liked because I made me laugh – especially when paired with the music video of a badly CGI’d overweight lady rolling around the beach with a whale.
How does ‘Lonely…’ stand in relation to your past albums? Does it advance some earlier ideas, or succeeded where another failed?
It’s much more focussed. I’ve grown up, got some life experience. My first album was a long time ago now, and Forma feels like a long time ago… Chords wasn’t even an album, really. I’m the most proud of this work. In a way, I wish this was my first, but then I wouldn’t be here without the others. It’s all a part of the process.
What kind of a role does your environment play on the music you make?
That’s a hard thing to say. It’s not something I think about consciously, in terms of the music I make anyway. Although, I did want this album to sound more icy; like ‘Snow Theme’ was made with snow in London in mind… so it does have more of an impact than I may realise.
What are your thoughts on sampling? Would you ever share where you got a sample from, would it matter, or do you obscure them so well it’s not worth it to reveal the source?
L: I’ve used sampling less and less over the years. Not that I have anything against it, I’ve just changed the way I work. On the new album, only the first track is really based around a sample.
So the elements of the other songs, they sound like they would have been plucked from an old dub record or something, were they all constructed from the ground up?
Yeah, in most cases. I try to work with stuff to the point that it sounds like its been recorded to VHS and kicked around a car park. Intentionally or not, I’m going between machines and programmes so it kind of ends with me sampling myself.
And lastly…what’s up the cover art for ‘Lonely…’? How did you select that one, and what is its connection to the music?
I sent over a load of images to my friend Luke, the cover’s designer, along with the videos I made to give him a “mood board,” so to speak. He sent over ideas, and the that’s the one that jumped out. It’s actually an image of a dog that he’s monged up. An angry dog hidden behind some bright colours. It seemed right.
Lukid’s Lonely At The Top is out on the 22nd October through Werk Discs/Ninja Tune.
You can stream the album in full on RA.
Photo: Sam Blair