FaltyDL (Interview)

Former future garage man on discovering ‘Atlantis’, and his twisted sense of humour…

Those for whom daily existence entails twiddling knobs and shifting rhythms around a computer screen into riveting arrangements of beats and bass are often the most reluctant to define what they do in words. Not through any rebellious inclination or desire to keep the creativity shrouded in a veil of unbranded mystery, but mostly because they don’t know themselves.

New York’s Drew Lustman, peddling his wares under the name FaltyDL, belongs to a constantly expanding group of chameleonic producers for whom genre is an inconvenient concept.

“The moment the discussion starts, and you start trying to decide what music is… I don’t want to say it cheapens it, but it definitely ends the discussion, in a sense,” he explains in diplomatic tones, possibly influenced by the Thanksgiving dinner he shared with a US envoy to Tokyo — where Lustman is currently playing a few shows — just hours before we talked.

First appearing in 2009 with releases for major electronic music player Planet Mu, Lustman was immediately lumped in with ‘future garage’, an ambiguous genre tag referring vaguely to the type of hard-to-pin-down bass music produced by Joy Orbison and others. It’s testament to the speed at which electronic music moves now that by the release of Lustman’s impressive You Stand Uncertain earlier this year, there was already a new generation of kids touching on ‘future garage’ as just another influence on which to call, simultaneously making the term obsolete.

Mild-mannered and insightful, Lustman takes time out from his Tokyo schedule to share with us some thoughts about, among other things, his new EP for Ninja Tune, ‘Atlantis’: four cuts of ominous beats underpinned by Lustman’s irresistible melodic sensibilities. Tracks range from schizophrenic beat workouts (‘Can’t Stop the Prophet’) to the brooding, icy tech house of the title track. Though it would seem ‘Atlantis’ is darker in mood than its predecessor, this is an opinion its creator disputes.

“I think my gauge is just off from other people,” he laughs. “’Atlantis’ actually seems very playful to me. I basically have two moods when I’m writing music: ‘Is my heart broke, or am I happy?’. You Stand Uncertain was me coming out of one relationship into another, and watching that fall apart. It’s a really dark album, but I don’t know if that’s my own warped sense of humour, because I often watch comedies and think they’re these dark comedies, and my friends are like, ‘No, this is hilarious!’”.

A notable feature of Lustman’s production that’s again crops up on ‘Atlantis’ is a prevalent use of vocals, both as hook and as textural layer.

“There are many arguments against this, but I think there’s a ceiling on instrumental music, on its tangibility, you know?” Lustman muses. “So if you can’t write a hook with a synth, you can definitely write a hook with a vocal sample, and that’s something people know and like.”

You Stand Uncertain found Lustman working with live vocalists alongside his usual samples. “Yeah, that was really good,” he says, describing how one of the guest vocals was chopped and rearranged, pitched up and down and everywhere in between. “I ran into Lily McKenzie at Plastic People a few months ago, and she was like, ‘You made me sound like a man!’. I was like, ‘I know — but it sounds good, right?!’”

As well as an inescapable UK influence on his work, more recently a Detroit Techno has crept into his tracks. “I’ve been listening to so much Theo Parrish, Moody Man and Rick Wilhite lately,” Lustman explains, pointing out their influence on his recent mix for The Stool Pigeon. “My newer tracks are these eight or nine-minute house burners with all these samples that stop and start; fall out of place and out of tune.”

Despite the global reach of the Detroit sound, Lustman doesn’t see much of a ‘scene’ around his music in his homeland. “I pretty much know what I’m gonna get when I’m in England or Germany, you know? And then I just played in San Francisco, or Vancouver, and it was like ‘meh, that was alright’” he says, non-committedly. “I have three gigs in New York in the next month, and one is going to be amazing, and two are going to be ‘meh’”.

Nevertheless, his future looks promising: a collaboration with like-minded souls Sepalcure is in the pipeline, as well as remixes for the likes of Bonobo and Roots Manuva. There’s also the small matter of a new long player in the works.

“I feel a little bit up in the air about my next album” he admits. “It’s an interesting feeling, I haven’t felt this way in a few years. Like, ‘Where am I going to land? Where’s my home gonna be?’”

Planet Mu and Ninja Tune have both expressed a desire for it to be in their respective camps. Wherever it may be, the originality and creativity of FaltyDL’s music and that of his close contemporaries signals a strong future for bass music, one that shows no signs of slowing down the constant sonic dialogue between its producers; rapidly pushing it forward into new and exciting territories.

See this interview in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON

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