Photo: Press (Lurka)
The Bristol label Black Box was not long-lived but influential. Shortly after dubstep had peaked, it provided the stomping ground for a generation of new producers who would push the envelope stylistically and aesthetically. Lurka quickly became one the central figures on the label and its sibiling Box Clever, releasing a slew of records that are still sought after. Soon, releases on Black Acre and Hotline Recordings followed, further establishing the Bristolian as a versatile producer with an ear for cutting-edge sound. It is then when he started building a relationship with Batu and his Timedance imprint, releasing on both the label and together with its founder on his own Fringe White. Having just put out the third Lurka and Batu release and Rhythm Hi-Tek on Timedance, Lurka’s contribution to our Groove podcast is “trippy, bumpy and computery.”
It goes without saying that you are affected by the current global situation both personally and professionally. How are you holding up? Are you already able to assess how the club closures will affect you economically?
Going slightly stir crazy, the same as everyone else! I caught coronavirus from attending a wedding a fortnight or so before the lockdown, so I spent quite a bit of time recovering from that. Totally over it now, thankfully! Enjoying making music as best I can whilst trying not to upset my neighbours who would normally be out of the house during the day. (laughs) Thankfully I don’t rely entirely on gigs, but it’s a big chunk out of the wedge. I’m more stuck pining for having a dance to some tunes on massive speakers!
When Bandcamp waived its fees on March 20th, you also pointed your audience to your personal site there. What can fans do to support their favourite musicians these days?
Bandcamp, Bandcamp, Bandcamp! I can’t emphasise it enough the difference this site has made in helping musicians afford to keep making music. It has made more for me than every other download and streaming website combined. Of course every purchase or stream is greatly appreciated through whatever means you prefer to, but if you really want to help an artist that you want to hear more from in the future and with immediate impact, then purchasing through Bandcamp is an excellent way to do so.
For Christmas last year, you’ve released a surprise edit of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback” on a name-your-price basis through Wisdom Teeth’s Bandcamp. What drew you to this particular track?
I can’t take credit for that, it was all Oscar Facta’s idea and work! He did such a great job with it! The instrumental came about when I was trying to recreate the drum groove from “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. (laughs) anyone familiar with that track will know how intoxicating and deceptively simple that groove is, and whilst I didn’t come anywhere close to nailing that drum groove, the track ended up as some Timberland/Neptunes flavour – a huge influence on a lot of us – and since they did the original beat for “Hollaback Girl,” good old Oskie made the connection and made this sick mash up. Big thanks to everyone who supported that on Bandcamp, by the way.
Your new EP Rhythm Hi-Tek comes out on Batu’s label Timedance. When premiering the track “ssppeedd” on Saoirse’s BBC1 radio show, he called you “one of the most technical producers” he knows. Do you know what exactly he meant by that? And how did Rhythm Hi-Tek come together?
I think that might be his polite way of calling me a massive nerd? (laughs) It might be because I tend to put a lot of time and energy into shaping the timbre and detail of individual sounds to how I have intuited them in my mind’s eye – ear? – and maybe this side of things appeals less so to some producers. I get as much pleasure out of this timbral shaping and detail-oriented work as I do from arranging or generating new musical ideas as to me they are so closely interlinked that I can’t have one without the other. So much of the feel of a track and its emotional impact and atmosphere comes from the instrumentation as much as the actual musical idea, and it nags at me to leave a sound in that I don’t feel is pulling its weight or I can picture as being better realised. After the Heat Mover single at the end of 2018, Omar (McCutcheon, aka Batu) wanted me to do something longer for Timedance and since I had never put out an EP before – despite releasing music for a decade or so, yikes! – I was well up for it. The title track was the first one that I had made for this and I kept refining/expounding on the techniques I had come up with for each successive track, so hopefully there is some cohesion to the sound of the EP. I think the overarching theme of the EP was meant to be weird and rude.
McCutechon is a close friend and regular studio partner of yours: so far, you have released three EPs together, including this year’s Curved. What makes your collaboration special and how would you characterise your working process?
I really enjoy making music with Omar as we have a lot of fun and I think our styles complement each other really effectively to become a synthesis rather than our musical ideas on top of the other. We collaborate well because we trust each other’s taste and input and also respect each other enough to give our honest opinion, as we know we are both trying to reach a common goal which is the best piece of music we can! Plus there is a lot of room for experimentation as he’s game to try anything no matter how tapped, goofy or absurd an idea it might initially seem. I’m really happy with how our music has come out over the years and I have learnt a lot of about arrangement from working with him, he is particularly good at this!
Curved was released on Fringe White, your own label that seems strictly reserved for your collaborations with Batu. Why did you start a whole label only for this purpose?
Back when we put out the first record, I think it was a much harder sell to potential labels for our weirdo collabs at the time, and since I have great friends Alex and Dan aka Ossia over at Rwd-Fwd – which is a distro as well as a shop – all of the systems were in place to put out a record quickly and in exactly the manner that we wanted! Whilst it has only been our collabs so far, I definitely have a lot of other cool stuff in the pipeline I can’t wait to put out.
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
I wanted to do a mix that was equal parts trippy, bumpy and computery.
Last but not least: what are your plans as a producer?
To put out a record better than the last one and have fun and learn something whilst doing it!
Stream: Lurka – Groove Podcast 251
01. Valentino Mora – Yant Suea
02. Louderbach – One Hundred Reasons
03. JPLS – Convolution
04. JPLS – Reset
05. Dettinger – Infarkt
06. Heartthrob – Compu
07. Hecq – Steeltongued (Fakesch Remix)
08. Splash Pattern – Savved
09. BFTT – YDON”T
10. Datassette – Polyhedron Navigator
11. Lurka – Point Noise Behaviours
12. The Fear Ratio – Ax
13. L.B Dub Corp – Take A Ride feat. Benjamin Zephaniah
14. Portable – Le Morne
15. Ploy – Iron Lungs
16. Niederflur – Evtl
17. Submania – Dirty Talk
18. Bodycode – Local Traffic / Audion – T.B. (Tease)
19. Marco Shuttle – Ende