Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Luke Wilson AKA Utah Jazz spoke to CULT's Roving Reporter Lee Heneghan before his 2 hour shake down at CULT last week......

Give us a bit background, how did you get involved with drum & bass and what has the last 12 months been like for you?

I’ve been making tunes for a while now. I must have started when I was about 16/17, just gradually getting into production and sending off demos to a few different labels, working my way up like everyone else. The last year or so has been pretty mad with the album coming out on V recordings over the summer.

That was a big achievement for me, A – getting the album out and B – get on a label like V. So I’ve just been touring since then, doing a lot of DJing, done a few remixes for a couple of major labels

So how did you get involved with V Recordings?

Starting out, I did some stuff with Alex Reece. The funny thing is that I mention his name these days and some people don’t really remember him but he was such a massive name in drum & bass. Almost like the Pendulum of his day, a big, major label artist. He was showing me the ropes and the tracks I did with him when were from when I was still at school. I was sending them out, people like Bryan G were playing a couple of them.

I didn’t know Bryan at all and then about 5 or 6 years ago I sent out a demo with a few tunes on, he picked up on them and I started working with him. Some people think that you get in by some kind of back door entrance but it’s not really like that. It was the same with Hospital really, I knew the guys who ran the label, I was just sending out demos like any other bedroom producer and took it from there.

Was there any particular tune that you think helped get your foot in the door?

The one Bryan picked up on and the first track I had out on Liquid V was called Harlem, after that I did Done and Dusted but I suppose the biggest one that really got noticed and that I was 100% happy with was Runaway which loads of people played. I think with the album coming out on CD and download and not just vinyl it’s almost been like a second wind for me, Runaway’s on there - that tune must about four years old now and people are only just hearing it now.

Would you say you’ve got a style or developed a personal sound that you feel you need to maintain?

I’d say it was generally sample based, pretty funky and definitely towards the liquid side of things. I’ve created a niche for myself production wise but still like to try different stuff when I can. There’s a tune on the album called Riddim Track that’s a bit more reggae and I’ll be playing a remix of a Tricky/Kylie tune tonight as well which is a lot harder than my normal stuff. When I’m playing out I love all sorts of different styles. I like the harder stuff and love playing a lot of the older tunes. I look at people like Zinc, Andy C or Marky - they’ll play stuff from 10 years ago alongside the upfront stuff and they’re my idols in terms of DJing because they’ll play so many different styles in one set.

You’ll be playing off 3 decks tonight, does that add a different element to your sets?

Yeah, I sometimes play off three Technics but I’ve been playing a lot of stuff off CD lately. I’d say for the past year or so I’ve been using two Technics and at least one if not two CDJs. I think It gives you the chance to cue something up while you’re in the mix and play a lot wider ranging selection. It adds something a bit different and it’s a bit of a selling point when you’re on three decks.

Do you have any kind of preference when it comes to format? Are you more comfortable with vinyl, CD or Serrato?

I do love the idea of Serrato but the thing is that I’m not that technically minded!. Usually if I’m on the way to play out I’ve had a few drinks and the thought of having to set up a laptop and rewire the setup is a bit too much for me. I generally stick to vinyl but play a lot of stuff off CD too. As long as the tracks are good I’m not too bothered.

That’s my ethos on playing older tracks as well, I don’t want to just stick to the new stuff. I think these days things are turning round so quickly, there’s so many new people coming into drum & bass. They don’t know tunes from three years ago, let alone ten years ago and it’s good to play some classics they might never have heard.

That said, if you’re playing a headline set a lot of time people expect you to have access to dubplates and to be pushing the latest upfront tunes. Probably half the stuff I’ll play tonight will be brand new, the other half will either be really old or just tunes that I feel have stood out from whatever timescale. I don’t feel the need to prove myself by playing two hours of dubs that nobody’s heard yet. I think a DJs job is more than just to picking the latest tracks, it’s about mixing up all the different styles and all the different eras.

You’ll be playing for two hours at Cult tonight, do you feel more comfortable when you’ve got more time on the decks?

Yeah, definitely. Some of the bigger raves I’ve done will only give you about 40 minutes for your set which is mad but I’ve been doing a lot of gigs abroad where you’ll turn up and they’ll just let you play for as long as you like. Last month I did three gigs in Germany and one in Austria and I ended up playing for about three and a half hours which gives you a lot more time to develop a set. I understand that you can sometimes only get and hour when you’ve got four or five headline DJs and you’ve got to fit everyone in but I’m happy when I’ve got a bit longer to do my thing, it’s pretty natural for me.

Do you prefer to pre-plan your sets or do you work better when you’re playing off the cuff and improvising as you go along?

I tend to plan sections but not really the whole set. I’m not quite sure what I’ll start and finish with but I know what tracks I want to play and I’ll know which three or four tunes work well together. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. I never go in and just whack stuff on, I think when you’re playing harder stuff you can just mix it up a bit but with the more soulful, melodic tracks it’s difficult to make things sound good unless you think about what you’re doing.

This is your second time in Nottingham for Cult after a well received set last year, is there anything about Nottingham or playing in the midlands that you particularly like?

Definitely the girls! Not just that though, I think Nottingham’s had a healthy scene for a while now. Obviously there’s nights like Detonate but also you guys bringing through some of the artists who might not play at the bigger events. I think it’s just one of those cities where every time you play up here it’s good. I was up here for Cult last year and it’s one of those gigs that I always remember. I think with the smaller more intimate venues you can get a really good atmosphere and people appreciate that.

What are your plans for the next 12 months? Anything in the pipeline?

I’ll be starting work on the next album soon but I’m not sure if that will even see the light of day next year. I’m doing a remix for an American group called Yo Majesty who are quite a big female rap crew. That should be coming out early next year on Domino Records which is home to the Arctic Monkeys. Other than that there’s still a lot of places I haven’t been yet with the tour – I’m going out to America, Australia, New Zealand which should be enough to keep me busy.

WORDS: Lee Heneghen

PICS: Joe Ryder

1 comment:

Roc said...

Great interview!