Today’s electronic scene is defined by and saturated with punchy house beats, wonky tech-house sounds, and experimental flavors. Most notably, Gorgon City, Claude VonStroke and his DIRTYBIRD label have been the well-known purveyors of these sounds, backed by consistent releases and listener’s growing desire for danceability over mind-exploding drops. Even Diplo has got into the fold with his recent releases and his Higher Ground label. But have you ever wonder where these sounds originate before trickling into the mainstream and who helped shape the scene? One major proponent is West Coast-based label, Desert Hearts back by their incendiary artists and wild, hedonistic events.
Desert Hearts started in 2012 by Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Porkchop, Marbs, and Kristoff McKay. Those of you who have followed the underground house and dance music scene will surely recognize some or all of these names. Through Desert Hearts, they have brought forward ferocious and positive energy that has served as a launchpad for many artists, as well as, influenced the broader sounds of dance music and the live event experience. An artist that has been exploding up the ranks, who also serves as their label manager and needs your attention is Lubelski.
Hailing from Los Angeles, Lubelski is at the forefront of inventive and often psychedelic dance music that defines the underground. Through his label Percomaniacs, his role as label manager at Desert Hearts and Superfreq, he helps shape the cutting-edge of house and underground dance music. This is in addition to his consistent release schedule, which in March saw him release his album, The Universal Groove, and his recent follow up with the two-track EP Wind Pipe, featuring two of the coolest and most creative tracks released in the past few months. Somehow, he even found time to DJ the Desert Hearts Digital Festival. The man is undeniably an artist that deserves your attention and is why we had to sit down and ask him a few questions.
You just released your EP, Wind Pipe, what can you tell us about the creative process? Was there any creative inspiration that led to it?
When Melé asked me for some music, I already had a good idea for the kind of music he was looking for. He had told me which tracks of mine he was into so I wanted to make something with similar tone and arrangement.
The titular track features what sounds like throat singing. Where did the idea to experiment with that come from? Does the throat-singing come from a sample or did you have someone record it specifically for the track?
I was looking to do something with a very bold breakdown, something that’s an instant attention grabber. I had use granular time stretching on the throat singing sample I found to make it a bit trippier sounding.
What was the inspiration behind “Bermuda”?
Bermuda was just an idea I had drummed up to keep with the psychedelic feel of the title track. The vocal samples were from the same world music vocal sample pack. Honestly just had fun with this one and let the ideas run.
When I listen to your music, I always feel that it has a strong cohesion and flow. When you set out to create an EP or Album, how do you work over where to place each track? Do you see it as weaving together a sonic narrative or journey or creating a mix?
I usually just make what I’m feeling in the moment and if a few tracks have sort of the same feel I’ll send them as demos together. I’m pretty all over the place, in terms of what I’m feeling, so usually it ends up that I’m using certain drums or bass tones for a few tracks over the course of a week or month.
You also dropped The Universal Groove not long ago. How did you come to work with quite a few names that are common sites amongst the underground?
Well RYBO, Wyatt, and I run our label together, so working with them was a given for the album. I’ve been making music with Jackson Englund, Musashi, and Durante for a while so it worked out that we had some music that was a fit for the record as well. I was also introduced to MOONZz, who’s a really close friend of my agent. Most of the tracks sort of gravitated towards each other in a way where doing an album made the most sense.
Was there a specific inspiration behind The Universal Groove? Walk us through your creative process behind the album.
Making a full album is something I’ve always wanted to do. Most of the songs are very vocal driven, so being able to make something underground yet accessible was the main drive for the inspiration. I think each artist I worked with really brought their own insight so it was really fun to piece each track together.
How did you get into electronic music and how did it evolve into production and DJing?
My grandma actually introduced me to electronic music with albums from Moby, Fatboy Slim, and Gorillaz when I was just a kid. I started making house when all my friends were making hip hop beats and dubstep in high school. I just wanted to do something a little different.
I had played in bands throughout high school as well but was tired of the constant clashing of creative difference. Having full control over the process was the most natural progression for me.
I dabbled around with spinning vinyl at house parties and moved on to CDJs and throwing parties in college. I was pretty much the only promoter in my city throwing house music shows.
What are your favorite electronic albums or songs? How about your favorite non-electronic music?
Tough question. One of my all time favorite albums is Francis Bebey’s Psychedelic Sanza.
My current favorite non-electronic album would have to be How To: Friend, Love, Freefall by Rainbow Kitten Surprise.
What are your biggest musical inspirations? What about inspirations outside of music?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Audiojack musically. Lately I take inspiration from labels like FUSE, Hot Creations, Trick, Comemé, Sex Tags Mania, and Psicodelica.
Outside of music, I like to read Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, Camus, and Sartre. I love the existentialist movement, philosophy, and history.
Who would be your ultimate collaborator, alive or dead?
I think Faithless would be awesome.
You played the Desert Hearts Digital Festival, what’s it like to stream a mix vs. performing live? Any favorite tracks that you’re dropping?
Honestly, I loved playing the digi fest. It’s really fun to see the real-time feedback of music and be able to engage with the audience on a different level. Playing live is always great though, to be amongst loud music and great people is amazing. Oh do I miss it, but we are making due!
My favorite track to drop right now is Put It Away, Put It Away, Put It Away, Dad by Out Hud. Such an insanely trippy song.
You’re also the label manager of Desert Hearts, as well as, Superfreq and you also have your own label, Percomaniacs. What’s it like being a sort of influencer or decision-maker on the house scene? What do you look for in the tracks you sign? Are there any artists that you think we should have our eye on over the remainder of 2020?
I haven’t really thought of it like that before! I’ve always tried to push the envelope sonically with my own music, so I try to hold other artists to that same standard. For my label management stuff, I’m not at all the final decision for what gets signed, but I’m somewhat of the first person you have to impress haha
With my own label it’s really nice to be able to release music from artists that I believe in.
Some of the artists I’m really excited to hear more music from is Sly Turner, Shuski, Matt Egbert, SOHMI, MEEN, and of course my dudes RYBO and Wyatt Marshall.
What’s next for you?
More live streams on Percomaniacs and Desert Hearts. More music in labels like Elrow, Deeperfect, Gruuv, Desert Hearts, Superfreq, and Percomaniacs. Free edits. And trying to have a good time in all this craziness.
You can support Lubelski by purchasing his EP and album by following the link here for Wind Pipe and here for The Universal Groove. To stream Wind Pipe and The Universal Groove, continue scrolling or follow the link here to choose your preferred service and explore some other Lubelski goodies.