Confessions of a SuperModule with DJ Lucas!
Reported by Jessica Alici
Submitted 28-08-18 09:10
DJ Lucas has been a staple in the Psy-Trance scene for over two decades! Releasing numerous singles, two killer albums, playing in over 40 countries all over the world and being a key figure at the legendary TIP Record Label. In fact, what Lucas doesn’t know about Psy-Trance probably isn’t worth knowing. With his awesome DJ skills, and ability to take the crowd on an extra-terrestrial magical mystery tour, not to mention his sunny disposition and winning smiling - we decided we were well overdue a grilling with the man himself.
Hi Lucas :-)
Firstly, can you tell us about your childhood? What were you like and how did your upbringing shape who you are today?
Hi everyone! I was lucky, my parents loved music and I grew up with it always around me and they encouraged me to learn piano and guitar. They would play anything from Pink Floyd, Led Zep, The Beatles, Queen to disco and classical music. When I was 10 years old I was madly into early hip hop, electro, funk, soul, synth pop and breakdancing. I was especially fascinated by the DJs at the time using two of the same records to mix and scratch up. This lead to my first experience of DJing as a turntablist which put me in good stead for mixing music of all types.
You began your music career playing Acid House and Techno. How did you discover acid house
I was already mixing up funk, soul, rare groove, hip-house and early house and was into electronic bands like Kraftwerk, Yello, Space, and the early new-beat sounds coming from Belgium. One day (I think it was back in 1987) I was at a friend’s flat and he played me Acid Trax Vol.1 (Trax Records)… I was instantly hooked. It felt like this was what I’d been waiting for, it was immensely exciting. I started mixing these minimal acid beats over my other records and started including tracks like A Guy Called Gerald - Voodoo Ray, Bam Bam - Give It To Me, Todd Terry’s instrumentals and The Phantom - Renegade Soundwave into my sets. The Acid house wasn't always popular with the promoters at first though as it hadn't yet become popular and had a druggy stigma attached; however, people on the dancefloor loved it.
When did you decide you wanted to DJ yourself and what goes through your mind when you’re DJing? Did you ever get nervous, do you still?
It all started in North London in 1987 when some friends and I put on a night at The Boston Arms in Tuffnel Park. Then I started getting DJ work through friends who ran a record shop in Archway called Pure Groove Records. Things just snowballed from there, although DJing was just a hobby really. I was just doing it for the love of it. It wasn’t until I stopped running the record label Flying Rhino Records in 2002 that I decided to give it a go full-time along with producing music. I’d been playing extensively already, but I didn't want to potentially ruin the fun of it by making it my job… but here I am 16 years later still at it and loving it :-)
I do still get nervous and take every gig seriously, however many people I play to and wherever it is, but it’s strange how I can get up on stage and play to 18,000 Brazilians without getting too phased, yet playing on home turf to friends and aficionados the butterflies can go into overdrive.
You’ve released two epic albums. Where do you take inspiration from? Do you have a concept before you begin?
Thank you. I’m very fortunate to have great producers as good friends which helps a great deal when learning production techniques and their music inspires me very much. I listen to a very wide range of music and most of the inspiration comes from that and quality psychedelic music of all types - electronic or not. Jimi Hendrix has and always will be one of my favourite musical influences. Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, The Doors, Gong… there are too many to list here! The concept behind my first album was simply to have all UK psychedelic producers on it, hence the name “God Save The Machine”.
What do you find the hardest about producing? What’s the bit you like the least?
I love making sounds using synthesisers… I can tweak for hours and often do (forgetting to press record!). I have built a few of my own synths, my favourite of which is a Modular Synth. The sounds that come out of it usually trump anything I make using “soft synths”, but a mixture of both can be great too.
For me the hard part is the arranging/decision making. I’m getting better at it but I still find it hard to know when tracks are done and should be left alone. I’m often still tweaking them after they’ve been released!
You’re a big part of the TIP family and work a lot with the legendary Raja Ram, who’s also your father-in-law! Did you meet Sastra (your wife) through Raja Ram or the other way round and what’s it like working so closely with family?
I’d been going to TIP parties for a few years before I first met Raja Ram properly, when I was asked to play at one of his outdoor TIP parties back in the 1990s. Mutual friends thought that my style of music would work well played to his crowd and it turned out they were right. It was around then that I first laid eyes on Sastra. Our mutual friends introduced us, one thing led to another, and now we’re married and have a lovely 12-year-old daughter called Bella.
I’ve been touring extensively worldwide with Raja Ram for over 16 years now. In the beginning much more together than we do now since he’s in his late 70’s (although somehow not slowing down that much!). I consider myself incredibly lucky as he is so entertaining, humorous, generous and fun to be around as well as a terrific DJ and musician. He has an amazing ability not to dwell in the past but to focus on the now and look to the future.
Being a father yourself, how do you balance work and family life? Do you incorporate them or try to keep them separate?
Well Sastra often deals with Raj’s and my bookings so I guess she decides the balance! Seriously though, it’s important to find time for both. Generally they are kept separate, although the family do come to some of the more exotic locations sometimes, like Goa, Japan, Turkey and US for instance.
Do you feel you’ve changed as an artist and as a person, over the years?
Hopefully I’m constantly evolving, growing and learning all the time. It’s a wonderful thing to be in a creative industry, but I think there’s never going to be a chance to rest on my laurels… which is what keeps it all fresh and exciting.
What advice do you wish you’d heeded when you were starting out as an artist?
I didn’t really get much advice starting out that I didn’t take into consideration. If I was to give advice to anyone starting out I’d say that the most important thing is to develop your own sound and personality in your music in order to stand out.
You once DJ’d for a star-studded dancefloor opposite the Diplodocus at the Natural History museum for the Harry Potter 3 premiere after-party. How did this awesome opportunity come about and how was it?
I’ve been DJing many styles of music over the years and one-time, years back, I played at a friend’s party where a top event organiser asked me to join their agency. It was a nice way to fill in gaps in my calendar before I became too busy playing psytrance and techno. It wasn't easy at that particular event as the age gap was from about 10-80 years old and trying to keep the dancefloor rocking meant finding tunes that appealed to all those age groups. I was playing on vinyl and I’ll never forget turning around to find “Herimone” and “Ron” going through my record bag saying “haven't you got something a bit more modern?”
Do you have any ‘guilty pleasures’ in life?
Yes, I suppose so, but I don’t feel guilty about them.
You’re playing the awesome Goa Cream Festival, this September 2018. Will you prepare for your set? If so; how? What are you looking forward to the most about this gig?
Sometimes I’ll amass all the tunes I’m likely to play and make a list so I don’t forget about any of them. I’ve never played them in a prepared order on the list and usually play others not on there. DJing is the art of reading the crowd and adapting to the situation. Apart from the fact that Goa Cream is very close to where I live, I’ve heard great things about this psychedelic gathering.
You’re currently working on a new album - tell us about this and any other exciting upcoming plans you have…
My third studio album is nearly done and is coming out on TIP Records later this year. It’s called “Confessions of a SuperModule” and, as well as my own tracks (under the name “Supermodule”), it has collaborations so far with the artists Ajja, Earthling, Dickster, Laughing Buddha, Martian Arts, Sonic Species, Tristan, and an Outsiders & Sybarite track. Another very exciting new project is that I’ve started working with sonic wizard Celli Earthling. The project is called MandelBros and we’re really enjoying working together and already nearly have a great new live set to unleash.
Lucas - a big big thank you for doing this interview! Looking forward to hearing you at the Goa Cream Festival 14th September 2018 :-) x
See you all on the dancefloor soon!
Catch DJ Lucas at this year’s Goa Cream Festival:
Follow Lucas on Facebook here:
Listen to Lucas's music on Soundcloud here:
Images courtesy of Lucas O'Brien. Not to be reproduced without permission
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