Lukan aka Nakul is an Indian DJ and producer, now residing in Lucknow – a small city in the north of India.After 8 years producing, he now unveils his Lo-Fi Bootleg of Bonobo’s ‘Break Apart’. Made solely using analog gear, Lukan weaves a tapestry of raw, electronic elements around the body of the original release. Transforming the skeleton of the once soft record, into a late night anthem, Lukan showcases his ability to tap into the darker side of electronic music. We thought it about time that we caught up with the musical genius…
Hey Lukan, welcome to DMCWORLD! Where in the world are you right now?
Hey DMC World! At the moment I’m in a town called Lucknow in the North of India. It’s pretty close to New Delhi and is the hub of many things but music. It’s pretty famous for it’s Mughal roots; we have some amazing kebabs here. On the contrary, it’s quite infamous for being heavily political which sometimes end up being dirty.
You’ve just released your Lo-Fi bootleg of Bonobo’s ‘Break Apart’. It’s decent! Talk to us about how you transformed the track..
In all honesty, it’s been the most challenging track I have written so far. The main reason being that the original was already so perfect that I was always worried about destroying it’s charm and soul. Whenever I’ve written my own originals there have been no constraints. They’ve been like empty canvases on which I could do anything. However, with the ‘Break Apart’ original almost each element seemed important and beautiful. I decided to keep three elements from it – vocals, guitars & a section of the pianos. I surgically EQ’d and re-recorded them into three instances trying to filter out everything else. I kept the guitar riff as the base of the track and started weaving a bassline over it using my Novation BS after throwing in a rough kick from my TR606. This was the starting point and I actually wrote every other element over this 16 bar loop. This included everything – the drums, percussion, bass layers, strings, pianos and even a few variations of them but all in audio as it was from hardware.
Once I had all my elements ready I tried to forget about the original track and started arranging my elements and writing the track. In fact, the first 1:20 minutes of the track have no samples from the original. I had chopped bits from the recorded baseline and slowly introduced it as a whole as the track progressed. Also did a similar thing with other elements. I then played this WIP a few times to come across a point where I started getting bored of it. That was the point where I thought something from the Bonobo Original had to be brought in. I tried the guitars as I thought it was too early for the amazing vocals by Rhye and it sounded quite good and that’s how I proceeded. I added some filters to them, wrote another panned bassy lead sort of synth to match it and brought it in when the guitars went out then brought it out when the guitars went in and so forth. I then basically did this with the pianos and the vocals and slowly took them to a place where they all could be played together for the build-up. Of course all through I kept adding variations to my recorded instruments and every now and then ended up recorded more elements.
So that was pretty much it in terms of the structure. To get the desired Lo-Fi sound I used the UAD emulation of the Moog Multimode Filter, a lot of the Studer A800, the Warm Audio Pultec Clone and some distortion through my RAT pedal. I reprocessed the vocals through the Waves Aphex Aural Exciter plugin and I think I also used the Roland Dimension D on another layer of it. The final mixdown was summed through my Neve 5059 summing mixer and then sent off for analog mastering to Italy. I’m sure there was a lot more involved in writing the record but penning all of it down would equal to a 600-page novel, maybe 700, I don’t know.
You studied over in the UK and that’s when you first got a taste of the electronic scene here. What is it about the genre that made you want to pursue a career in electronic music?
Freedom. I saw freedom in the genre (a lot of artists made their own stuff without caring about genre norms), freedom in the country and freedom in the parties. Not that I’m from a dictatorship ruled by Adolf Hitler but in India partying is not supported by the government, clubs don’t stay open very late, underground electronic music is not that big a scene for a country (although it’s growing rapidly) of it’s size and you wouldn’t find people going as mental as you would in Berghain well because there has never been a Berghain or a Fabric or a Sankey’s or a Womb in India.
I had always been interested in electronic music and the UK scene was a colossal push to it. I had never imagined or seen anything like that before. There were some parties happening in India, especially psychedelic trance in Goa but there wasn’t much of House and Techno. Those parties in warehouses, parking lots, bunkers and non-sanitized clubs with raw sounds rumbling through my body sparked the motivation in me to experiment with my production skills and finally make a career in this industry and even try to bring it back to India.
The best thing about music is…
It’s art you can’t see. I think there’s no art form apart from music that is invisible. When we talk about art it usually strikes our heads in a visual manner – paintings, sketches, sculptures, graphics, architecture etc. Music is not – it’s a feeling; an art form which is only perceived by the ears which induces other feelings. You can see it being performed but you can’t see the sound waves coming out of a guitar reaching your ears, vibrating your ear-drums, converting energy into multiple forms and finally making your brain perceive it as a sound. And it all happens so fucking quickly. It’s art and science from the moment a producer thinks about a riff in his head till the moment a listener perceives it as a sound with so many conversions of energy in between.
Over the years you’ve shared stages with the likes of Disclosure, Skream & Shadow Child. Who would your dream collaboration or B2B set be with?
B2B with Move D would be a dream come true. I love his music. He’s a legend. DJ Koze for the collaboration wish. His production skills and creativity are something to die for. I can’t resist but name the third one as Kink even though I was asked for two names, maybe one because I just read the ‘or’ in your question but….
What can we expect from your Jackin’ By Nature mix series?
Jackin’ by Nature is basically an erratic mix series. It’s erratic in every sense. There’s no monthly, weekly or time-constraint release schedule. I record the mixes when I feel I’ve dug some good records over a few days, weeks or months. Basically whenever I feel I have discovered a good new 15-20 records I end up recording a JBN set. The vibe of the sets are also different every time. I don’t try to stick to only unreleased material or only techno or only house or only this or only that. I just try to make it jack while keeping it natural. Hence the name – Jackin’ by Nature.
Your music has had the likes of Sidney Charles, Riva Starr & James Zabiela showing their support. What label heads would you like to work with?
There are so so so many but to name a few – Pampa (Dj Koze), R&S (Renaat), AUS (Will Saul), Mosaic (Steve O’Sullivan), Crosstown Rebels (Damian Lazarus), Lower East (Cozzy D), Diynamic (Solomun).
Where would be your dream venue/country to play?
Fabric, London. I owe a lot to Fabric for introducing me to a new world of electronic music. I had never seen anything like it in India. It’s a major factor for me pursuing this as a career.
We hear you like to play vinyl only sets. Tell us about your record collection…
To be very honest, I have a very humble record collection of about 400 records. In India there is almost zero wax culture at the moment. We have no shops, no online stores, nothing to procure records for electronic music. There are a few very small shops which sell old Bollywood and western music but they could be counted on my fingertips. It’s not like walking through markets or lanes in New York or Berlin or London and walking into record stores finding electronic music gems. Each and every record that I have in my collection has been flown thousands of miles to be procured – either through a courier service or by a friend or by myself. I feel this limitation does have an advantage though – it makes me extremely selective of what I buy and maintain a certain level of quality. I feel if I had a real ease of purchasing wax, I would also be buying a lot of stuff I really don’t need. A lot of my record collection has also been passed on by Raghav, a cousin who had gone to London about 20 years back to learn DJ’ing and had gotten back some from back then. I keep getting a couple of them every week through Juno or Deejay.de. I have been more of a producer than a DJ due to always shifting countries and professionally pursuing something completely different. It was only last year that I decided to commit to this full time and now hope to see my record collection grow- ☺ .
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us! Finally, what else is in store for the rest of 2017?
It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you!
2017 is my year to unleash whatever I have learnt and musically experimented with in the last 8 years. I had dedicated that time to just experimenting with production techniques, learning the music business, building relationships and for me this is the year where I am attempting to bring everything into action. I had planned a string of three ‘free download’ releases which I am done with now. I have built a new studio where I am writing an EP, maybe an album. I am in talks with a few labels, you will hear that news soon, lets hope. Once I am done with 2-3 good label releases I plan to shift to Europe to start touring more. Alongside this, what happens in India in terms of shows will also be welcomed although my attention for India is currently more focused on starting my own company which starts with my own club nights/parties and then leading on to being an artist mgmt agency as there are no mgmt agencies here.