Scott Walker, Arsenal and painful lentil soup with the Lukid
What a beautiful and strange world it is, capable of presenting work like Tilt. Luke Blair is now 15 years into his productions as Lukid, and we still don’t now what to expect from him, ever. Sure, there are some totems – lack of rigidity in beats and various pieces, one foot in the darkened rooms of leftfield venues, another in the serene wilderness of ambient dreams – but variety and breadth are the two operative words when considering his output.
On Tilt we’re invited into a place that has so many reference points it’s hard to know where best to begin. The strange syncopation of ‘Anatolia’, which sounds like harmonies fed through crystal and then strung out over the top of fidget drums. Or maybe the twinkling, plink and plonk of ‘Daisy Cutter’, a subtly uplifting beat-less paradise. Possibly ‘Belly’, with its lo fi take on UK club. Definitely ‘End Loop’, and that scuzzy, emotional refrain.
So when we were offered the chance to put a few questions to the man himself, we couldn’t say no…
Hi Luke, so, first things first – where are you as you type this? How has your day been so far? Been up to anything good/fun/awful so far, or anything planned for later?
I’m sitting in a cafe in the industrial estate that the studio I share is in. I’ve given up on the lentil soup in front of me because I’ve suddenly developed a strange pain in my chest that only appears when I lean forward, making soup consumption very tricky. So I’m sitting back and tucking in to these questions instead. Hopefully the pain is nothing to worry about.
Tilt is your first solo long player for 11 years – what have you been up to in that time and how come it took so long?
For a while I didn’t really see the point in releasing more Lukid stuff. I was a bit disillusioned with the music I’d released under that name, and was enjoying the freedom of working under different aliases. And it wasn’t as if I had people knocking down my door begging to release my work, so if I was going to put something out I was going to have to do it myself, and that takes will and money, so I had to wait for both of those things to accumulate. At some point I decided that I should be less precious about things, and that if I wasnt that pleased with my previous work the best thing to do was to start releasing the music that I was more proud of.
You’ve had other tracks out in that time, just no album. Is there a different creation process, a different approach for making albums that makes it more of a task than a mere collection of songs?
Tilt is a mere collection of songs, compiled from around 8 years of work, so there was no particular unifying approach to the composition of the tracks as I didn’t necessarily make them with an album in mind. They were just things I’d made over the years for the fun of it. But when it came to putting together a tracklist it felt to me like there was a theme or at least a feeling running through it. It’s a snapshot of a certain type of output from a certain time in my life, so hopefully it works as an album.
Tilt is an interesting title – obviously there’s a very famous experimental album called Tilt by Scott Walker, that’s often cited as a representative of a certain type of far leftfield experimentation. Was that in your mind when titling it?
I actually didn’t know about the Scott Walker album, for my sins. A friend made me aware of it a few months before I released my own Tilt, but I decided to persevere with the title, because it’s only a word isn’t it. When I was choosing a title I made a list of words that I felt fit the feel of the album. I can’t remember exactly what they were but things that had to do with flow and drift, that kind of thing. Somehow via a few thesaurus clicks I got to tilt and I liked it. It has different meanings which can suggest both movement and stillness, which I thought was appropriate. Also it makes me think of people ‘tilting’ a pinball machine, and the kid in the photo on the cover looks a bit like he’s living in a pinball machine and someone’s given it a good kicking and made him fall over.
How do you think your work in TV and film has influenced your sound – the press release mentions it being more ‘composerly’… Is it reassuring having a very specific brief to write for – and therefore terrifying having no brief, or vica
I personally don’t think it has influenced my sound really. If it has changed anything it has made me sort my act out a bit, get to know software better and become more professional. You can’t be using a cracked copy of cubase on a laptop that crashes one out of every six times you start it up when there are people there waiting for you to deliver the goods to a tight deadline, so I’ve had to grow up a bit. I enjoy the balance between working on my own music and doing commissioned work. Having a brief can be very freeing after staring for hours into the endless possibility void of a blank ableton project, and vice versa.
So you did some work for Arsenal FC… Tell us more. Who do you support – if anyone? Do you reckon they’re in with a chance of catching Man City this season?
I support Manchester United FC. I went to school in North London and was surrounded by Arsenal fans so I have a historic and deep-rooted dislike of them, but I’ve found that club allegiances feel a bit silly as you get older. I just love the beautiful game. I’ve got no idea if Arsenal are in with a chance, but it would be nice if City didn’t win it again, for the sake of the beautiful game.
You’ve also been working as part of Rezzett, a duo with Jackson Bailey. How has it been going back to solo creation after that? How do the two dynamics differ?
I’d say Rezzett works well because me and Jackson have quite different working methods that complement each other. I think if you’d listened to our solo work before Rezzett you wouldn’t have thought that a collaboration between us would sound like it ended up sounding, and I think that’s great. Our tracks often start with us 2 in a room jamming on various bits of kit, which is fun, and sweet relief from staring at my laptop all day. Then we’ll bounce ideas from these recordings back and forth. When you’re stuck on an idea it’s nice to be able to send it off to someone to see what they can do with it, it feels like some kind of magic trick. The whole process provides momentum that can be lacking when it’s just you. But then there is something nice about the freedom that comes with thrashing things out on your own. It’s horses for courses.
And finally, what’s next for Lukid?
I’m planning to start releasing more regularly because why not? I’m hoping to get a fair bit of music out in 2024 under various guises, but I won’t jinx them by announcing them yet.